Hike to Aasgard Pass

12.2 miles 4400 ft gain  - Out-and-Back Trail

Added by Rose Freeman

Take in breathtaking views of Colchuck Lake as you hike, scramble, and conquer the infamous Aasgard Pass. This trek is for well-seasoned hikers prepared to gain 2,200’ in 3/4 of a mile on a grueling trail marked by cairns.

“These fleetingly rare sights offer a recipe for what I call ‘the Quest.’ The Quest is the force that motivates us to travel. It’s putting oneself in the perfect place at the perfect time. It’s the insatiable urge to find that quintessential moment.” - Washington AAA Journal

The arrival of “golden week” at Colchuck Lake and Aasgard Pass trail inspired my husband and me to set out on a “larch march” day hike on October 5, 2014. Nestled among the alpine wilderness, you would think the larch trees are just another pine tree. But, in the fall, their needled branches transform from green to a rich golden color making them the crown jewel of the fall landscape. Often times the delicate needles are only golden for about a week, depending on the first frost.

For a day hike, a Northwest Forest Pass is required at the trailhead. Pick one for $5 at your local REI before you hit the trail! If you forget, the 76 gas station on the corner of Icicle Creek Road and Highway 2 sells them. To stay overnight at any of the Enchantment Lakes a permit is required (to apply for a lottery application in February or the morning of your trip at the ranger station, click: here for details. Also, I recommend a high clearance vehicle for the 4 miles up Forest Road 7601 to get to the trailhead!

The first 2 miles of dirt trail wind through a pine forest along Mountaineer Creek. Cross the bridge and peak through the trees to see Colchuck & Dragontail Peaks! At the junction of Colchuck Lake and Lake Stuart, turn left and follow the sign to Colchuck Lake. Continue another 1.6 miles up the rugged switchbacks until you reach the pristine alpine water of Colchuck Lake. When you arrive at the lake, I recommend filtering 1-2 liters of water per hiker for the ascent up Aasgard.

Hop across boulders and follow the rock cairns around Colchuck Lake to reach the base of Aasgard Pass. The next 3/4 mile of trail is “difficult, hard to follow” according to Green Trails maps. It’s also completely worth the effort! The “trail” consists of loose rock, boulders, gnarly larch trees and snow fields that don’t melt until late summer.

When you reach the first grove of larch trees stay clear to the left of the rock, no matter what season you’re hiking. Don’t follow any side trails near the waterfall - several folks have died there. We witnessed a decent size rockfall one trip up Aasgard Pass - stay alert. The top section of the trail requires some big steps and scrambling. Continue “onward and upward!” When you reach the top at 7,800’, take in views of Dragontail Peak above you, Colchuck Lake behind you, and the gateway to the Core Enchantments ahead of you.

Most day hikers continue through the Enchantments on a through hike (~18 miles RT) to finish at the Snow Lake TH (See “Day Hike the Enchantments” adventure). Or, you can turn around and descend Aasgard Pass (~13 miles RT) like we did on our larch march in October. Happy hiking!

To see the full trip report and more pictures, visit my blog!

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Tags

Photography
Hiking
Forest
Lake
Scenic
Waterfall
Wildflowers
Wildlife

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🥈 Contributor

over 4 years ago

Larches

I went in June of last year and want to go back to see the larches like they are in your photos! Such a rad hike and area up there.

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