Added by Lucas Boland
So you missed out on the Enchantments camping lottery this summer, not to worry. During the winter you can camp without a special permit, and Nada Lake is a beautiful place to get outside and brave the cold. 2.5 hours on US-2 and you are there.
Being one of the lucky recipients of an Enchantments overnight permit can't happen for everybody. So, for the rest of us, taking to the mountains in the winter is an awesome way to bypass this system and experience the central Cascades in a completely different, colder way. The suffering is almost always worth it.
From Seattle, you simply head north out of the city on I-5, hang a right on WA-522 East, and connect to the US-2. This will take you all the way to Icicle Creek Road, right off of which is the Snow Lakes Trailhead. That is where the adventure begins. Although a special permit isn't required, a standard overnight permit still is. This will be self-regulated at the trailhead. Once you get all that situated, hop on the path and start trekking up. It's pretty straightforward - there shouldn't be any digressions from the trail. The lower elevations likely won't have as much snow, but the higher up you get the deeper the snow will be also. In the beginning the trail gains a lot of elevation (~800 feet) over the first 1.5 miles or so, but it isn't so bad the whole trip. After these switchbacks it opens up into a big valley with the Snow Creek at the bottom and the trail flattens out a little bit more. The whole way up you'll be hiking towards a big granite face, the Snow Creek Wall. You'll go up the entirety of the valley and come over a ridge, which Nada Lake sits beyond.
When you arrive at the lake there are a couple campsites where you can set up for the night. You have a good chance of having the lake to yourself, so enjoy! The stars and moon (if it's out) will likely be bright enough to light up the lake and peak beyond, not a bad sight to see. The next day, make sure to get up in time to see the sunrise hitting the big granite peak at the other end of the lake. Also, Snow Lake is only about 1.5 miles further up the trail, and is a worthy excursion for the next day. Cheers!
- Permit info: http://www.fs.usda.gov/recarea/okawen/recarea/?recid=79432
- 4 season tent
- Snow shovel
- 15 degree sleeping bag (or better)
- Sleeping pad
- Water boiler or stove
- Freeze dried meals
- Eating utensils
- Hot chocolate
- Snow pants
- Snow jacket
- Insulating layers
- Extra socks
- Liners and gloves
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