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Aasgard Pass via Stuart Lake Trail

Leavenworth, Washington

3.5/5
based on 2 reviews

Details

Distance

11.15 miles

Elevation Gain

4560 ft

Route Type

Out-and-Back

Description

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!

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Features

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Reviews

I saw this hike and thought this would be better than through hiking the enchantments because it was less in length and because it didn’t require a shuttle/2 cars. After completing it I realized that it might’ve been easier to through hike the enchantments or see the view at the top of Asgard by coming from the Snow Lakes Trail head. Climbing up the Asgard rock scramble (that ended up being close to 3000’ of elevation gain for us) was very difficult. It was so difficult going up that we seriously contemplated through hiking the enchantments and trying to befriend through hikers at the top to give us a ride back to our car so that we would not have to climb down the rock scramble. We did do the climb down the Asgard pass rock scramble. The climb down was full of many falls as we slipped on the small rocks and dust that provided no traction. Based on the original posting we figured the whole hike could be accomplished in 5 hours, 13 mi, and 4400’ elev gain. It actually took us 12 hours, 14 miles, and 5000’ in elev gain. I personally do not see how it could’ve been done in 5 hours. My friend who was with me had climbed Half Dome in Yosemite (relatively equivalent in elevation gain and mileage) and thought this hike beat that in difficulty. Overall the views were absolutely stunning but I’d definitely find a different way to do this that would not require doing Asgard twice.

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.

Leave No Trace

Always practice Leave No Trace ethics on your adventures and follow local regulations. Please explore responsibly!

Nearby

Colchuck Lake via Stuart Lake Trail

Snowshoe to Colchuck Lake

Climb to the Summit of Colchuck Peak

Hike to the Enchantments' Horseshoe Lake

Scramble to the Summit of Dragontail Peak

Day Hike the Enchantments