Day Hike the Enchantments

18 Miles Round Trip - 6000 ft gain - Point-to-Point Trail

Lake Stuart Trailhead - Search Nearby - Added by Mitch Pittman

The Enchantments is a classic Washington hike. More than a dozen high alpine lakes carved in granite. A hard-to-acquire permit is required to camp in any of the area's five zones, with the Enchantment Core permit being the most desirable. Ambitious day hikers will be richly rewarded for tackling all 20 miles in a day.

Start at the Stuart Lake trailhead, which at 3400' is a full 2000' higher than the Snow Lake trailhead you'll finish at. Put 2.5 easy miles under your feet along Mountaineer Creek before turning left on the trail up to Colchuck Lake. The trail steepens for the next 1.5 miles before popping you out at the rim of the spectacular blue-green lake.

Rest your legs while you take in the views of your next task across the lake: Aasgard Pass. Some more easy trail and about 15 minutes of careful boulder-hopping following the cairns will lead you to the bottom of Aasgard Pass.

Gaining more than 2000' in only a mile, Aasgard will test your mettle. Fill up on water in the stream at the base and get to it. Stay left of the island of trees in the middle and hug the cliff walls before crossing back to the right as you near the top. The trail can be very difficult to follow and watch out for rockfall from others hiking above you.

All your hard work will be rewarded when cross into another world at the top of the pass and are greeted with 13 miles of downhill ahead of you. Wander through a magical flowing landscape for the next four miles as you go down a staircase plateau of turquoise lakes, larches, and families of goats.

Photo ops abound in every direction as you discover new waterfalls and cliffs around every corner. Don't be surprised to feel overwhelmed by so much beauty coming at you at once as you walk past aptly-named lakes such as Tranquil, Perfection, Inspiration, and Leprechaun.

Take a look back as you drop down from Lake Vivian, the last of the 'Core' lakes, and start the long slog out past Snow and Nada lakes. Don't underestimate how long this will take, as many groups finish by headlamp.

Reach your car with throbbing feet, aching legs, and skeptical memory - wondering if what you just experienced was real.

Planning:

At around 20 miles point-to-point, some logistics are involved in hiking through. If you and a friend drive two cars, you can park one at each trail head. Though I've always found luck parking my car at the end and catching a ride to the start with friendly hikers.

Tags

Photography
Running
Hiking
Lake
Scenic
Wildlife

Details

18 Miles
6000 ft elevation gain
Point-to-Point Trail

Stay Nearby

Leavenworth, Washington

LOGE Leavenworth

From $55/night

Leavenworth, Washington

Leavenworth / Pine Village KOA

Ellensburg, Washington

Ellensburg KOA

Stehekin, Washington

North Cascades Lodge at Stehekin

From $109/night

Nearby Adventures

Hike to Lake Stuart

9 Miles Round Trip - 1665 ft gain

Scramble to the Summit of Dragontail Peak

16 Miles Round Trip - 7000 ft gain

Hike to the Enchantments' Horseshoe Lake

16 Miles Round Trip - 6000 ft gain

Snowshoe to Colchuck Lake

16 Miles Round Trip - 3000 ft gain

More Nearby Adventures

Tours

More Tours

Reviews

Leave a Review

Overall rating: 

Enchantments in mid September

If you can dodge rain forecasts, I highly recommend this hike. It was a challenge to do in one day, but if you’re a regular hiker, it’s a great one to do at the end of the season when you’re in your best shape. Even though it was overcast, the views were some of the most incredible I’ve seen. I recommend starting at Stuart and getting the worst of the hike over with early. However, be prepared for the ~15 miles you have left after Aasgard. Even though it’s not uphill, it will mess with your head to keep pushing yourself for that long after the “hard” part is over. Final stats: 13 hours, 23 miles, 4400 feet gain, 6700 feet loss.

REALLY long by completely worth it!

Seriously one of the best hikes in the whole world! The name is fitting, this hike is enchanting. Inspiration Lake was my personal favorite. Day hiking it isn't that hard, the only bummer is that you don't have much time to stop and take it in. The descent is the hardest part, it was painful and felt like it would never end! Still, 100% worth it!

Enchantments Traverse trail run

The Enchantments are one of my favorite wilderness areas in the entire country, and I can't wait to go back to do this challenge - only running instead of hiking. The Enchantments Traverse (same trail + route as described here) is one of Washington's most famous and popular trail runs, and sounds like an awesome way to pack in all of the beauty of this area into one challenging day. The Trail Run Project has a ton of great info on this run, too: https://www.trailrunproject.com/trail/7005246