Backpack the Enchantments
Washington › Stuart Lake Trailhead
Added by Sam Patterson
Hiking through the Enchantments, you'll pass stunning mountains, lakes, and panoramic views to ridiculously scenic campsites. Core Permit required for overnight access to all areas during permit season. Permit season extended to May 15, 2016 - Oct 31, 2016.
There are a couple different ways to tackle this hike through the stunning Central Cascade region. I recommend checking out this handy resource for more detailed info.
Bottom line: this is an absolutely amazing hike for people willing to take a little bit of an ass kicking. Aasgard Pass rises 1,900 feet in less than a mile, but aside from that, it's a fairly manageable hike. Either way, power through because it's one of the most gorgeous hikes out there, and it's totally worth it.
Note that permits are required for overnight camping from June 15 - October 15 due to the popularity of the area. Permits are awarded by the Forest Service through a lottery that opens in February. I visited in late May, and besides about 4 feet of snow on Aasgard Pass, it was smooth sailing.
Also, be careful where you pee! The goats that live in the Enchantments have become accustomed to finding salt in the urine of hikers. This causes them to follow their human guests a little too closely, which is not nearly as funny in person as it sounds…
Getting there: To reach the trailhead, turn onto Icicle Creek Road from US2 on the very western edge of Leavenworth. Drive 8.4 miles and turn left onto Forest Service Road 7601. Follow the bumpy, sometimes potholed dirt road 3.7 miles to the Stuart Lake trailhead. Parking for about 20-30 cars and a toilet are available in the lot. Northwest Forest Pass required.
Day 1: Start at the Stuart Lake Trailhead and follow for 2.3 miles. Then pick up the Colchuck Lake Trail for 2.7 miles. This will put you at Colchuck Lake and the base of Aasgard Pass, which is less than a mile in distance, but comes with an elevation gain of about 1,900 feet. Once you reach the top, you will follow the trail for about a mile until you are surrounded by the Enchantment Lakes. Pick a spot that looks nice and set up camp for the night. Total Distance: 7 miles
Day 2: Following the same trail, you will wind through the Enchantment Lakes and head toward Snow Lake. This day is all down hill and much easier than the day before. You will end at Snow Lake and pick from one of the many campsites located along the lake. Total Distance: 5 miles
Day 3: Continue along the trail (Snow Lake Trail) headed toward the Snow Lake Trailhead. This day is also mostly downhill as you work your way out of the Enchantments zone and toward your exit. You will come out at the Snow Lakes Trailhead and most likely need to hitch a ride back to your car (located back at Stuart Lake parking lot about 5 miles away). Total distance: 6 miles
- Sleeping bag
- Snowproof/waterproof boots
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Enchantments Trail Run
Epic one day trail run. Some of the finest trails I have seen in the West Coast. Start at Stuart Lake Trailhead and get an early start. The lakes on this route are absolutely spectacular. Drop a car at the finish, hitch a ride back or do a key swap with someone mid-hike.
Possibly The Best Backpacking Trip
It can be difficult to acquire permits, but in the shoulder seasons the walk in permits aren't to hard to get. It's quite the trek in starting from the Snow Lakes side but so worth it. We went in late May and there was still quite a bit of snow about 200 above Snow Lakes. It's not awfully crowded and it's some of the most beautiful terrain I've ever hiked
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