Leavenworth, Washington

Snowshoe to Colchuck Lake

16 Miles Total - 3000 ft gain - Out-and-Back Trail

Originally added by Katie

Enjoy a unique sense of solitude and see stunning Colchuck Lake and the imposing peaks around it under a heavy blanket of snow.

From Leavenworth, head south on Icicle Creek rd for 8.2 miles until you reach USFS rd 7601. This road isn't plowed and is blocked by a locked gate about one quarter mile from where it intersects with Icicle Creek Road (usually from November to May), so parking at the intersection is probably your best option. Hike up USFS road 7601 for 3.7 miles until you reach the Stuart Lake trailhead #1599 (there are bathrooms here complete with trashcans and TP). If there are no tracks to follow and you aren't comfortable with the area, navigation tools such as a GPS or map/compass might be helpful from this point on.

Meander through the woods and climb gradually for about a mile and a half, roughly following Mountaineer creek off to your right. At this point, cross a snow-covered bridge to the opposite side of the creek. Keep following the creek for about a mile until you reach another, more precarious log bridge that takes you back across. The trail climbs steeply up and away from the creek after crossing the first bridge before turning upriver again, and then drops back down towards the second bridge. Just before crossing the second bridge, you will reach a signed fork in the trail - going to the right will take you to Stuart lake, so take a left here. There was a pretty large number of friendly birds (Bank Swallows?) who started following us closely in this area, but we quickly figured out their intentions when we stopped for some granola bars. They weren't too aggressive, and it was pretty cool to watch them maneuver between the trees around us.

After crossing the second bridge, continue along the river for a bit before turning up and away towards Colchuck Lake - you should be able to catch glimpses of Dragontail peak from this area. There is a smaller creek which drains the lake and eventually flows into Mountaineer creek that can be roughly followed up to your destination - this also presents a great opportunity for some up-close viewing of frozen waterfalls. This half of the hike has some very steep and sometimes icy sections, and a mountaineering axe or trekking poles would be very helpful, if not necessary. Watch out for hollows in the snow under the many large boulders in this area. Decent routefinding skills would be helpful here if there aren't any tracks to follow.

After climbing straight up several steep hillsides (we found that switchbacks are usually skipped in the snow), you'll find yourself at snow-covered Colchuck lake, surrounded by the steep, rocky, and similarly snow and ice-covered faces of Dragontail and Colchuck peaks. Dig out a campsite, make something hot to eat or drink, and enjoy some truly majestic views!

This trip is definitely do-able in a weekend! We drove out to the trail and started hiking late Friday night and camped at the Stuart Lake trailhead. On Saturday we hiked to the lake and spent the night there. We got an early start Sunday morning and were back at the car by noon. Aasgard pass looked a bit more imposing than it did when we last saw it in the summertime, but a winter trek through the Enchantments is definitely a new goal at this point! (avalanche conditions and weather permitting)

Read More

Tags

Camping
Snowshoeing
Backpacking
Hiking
Bathrooms
Forest
Lake
River
Scenic
Wildlife

Reviews

Leave a Review

Overall rating: 

Great Hike

I came a little late this Spring for a real snowshoe, but since there isn't a post for a hiking version: It is a beautiful hike. Increasingly popular so you will never find yourself alone on the trail, even in the winter, and once the trail is snow free, you might find yourself tripping over roots and rocks and getting sidetracked by meandering boot paths on what is a less than perfectly maintained trail. But it wouldn't the as fun otherwise! If you are lucky enough to be up on a calm day, the reflection in the lake is to die for. Alas, I had no such luck.

Sweet!

I've only been here in summer, but it looks awesome for a winter snowshoe too....next season!

We want to acknowledge and thank the past, present, and future generations of all Native Nations and Indigenous Peoples whose ancestral lands we travel, explore, and play on.

Stay Nearby

Leavenworth, Washington

Eightmile Group Site

Overview Nestled in a forest canopy of pine and fir on the banks of Icicle Creek, Eightmile Group Campground in Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest offers a peaceful setting for groups and large g...

Leavenworth, Washington

Bridge Creek Group Site

Overview Bridge Creek Group Campground sits in Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest in northwest Washington. Nestled in a mountainous forest near the confluence of Bridge Creek and Icicle Creek, the ...

Leavenworth, Washington

Icicle Group Campground

Overview Nestled in a forest canopy of pine and fir on the banks of Icicle Creek, Icicle Group Campground in Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest offers a peaceful setting for groups and large gathe...

Leavenworth, Washington

LOGE Leavenworth

Hostels starts at $55, hotel rooms start at $150 Your own private cabin with a river view, or bunk with all your friends (and meet new friends) in our co-ed community style hostel! Grassy lawn, fir...

From $55/night

Nearby Adventures

  • Night Photography at Colchuck Lake

    This is an incredible backpacking trip that leads to amazing locations for night time photography. Most people focus on Colchuck Lake, but Asgard Pass and Dragontail Peak make for great photographs as well.Start at the bottom of the access road to...

  • Hike to Aasgard Pass

    “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 momen...

    12.2 miles 4400 ft gain

  • Climb to the Summit of Colchuck Peak

    Getting There: From US2 in Leavenworth, Washington, turn onto Icicle Creek Rd. Drive 8.2 miles and turn left on Forest Service Road 7601—you might be able to spot it more easily as the turnoff for the Bridge Creek Campground. In 3.7 miles, you'll ...

    12.5 miles 5300 ft gain

  • The Enchantments: Hike to Colchuck Lake

    To reach the trailhead, turn onto Icicle Creek Road from US2. Drive 8.4 miles and turn left onto Forest Service Road 7601. Follow the potholed dirt road 3.7 miles to the Stuart Lake trailhead. Parking for about 20-30 cars and a toilet are availabl...

    8 miles 2280 ft gain