Enchantment Lakes Hike via Colchuck Lake

Alpine Lakes Wilderness

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Enchantment Lakes Hike via Colchuck Lake

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  • Colchuck Lake/Lake Stuart Trail.- Enchantment Lakes Hike via Colchuck Lake
  • Black-tailed deer bucks (Odocoileus hemionus columbianus).- Enchantment Lakes Hike via Colchuck Lake
  • Black-tailed deer (Odocoileus hemionus columbianus).- Enchantment Lakes Hike via Colchuck Lake
  • Making the hike up to Colchuck Lake.- Enchantment Lakes Hike via Colchuck Lake
  • Crossing over Mountaineer Creek before making the steep ascent up to Colchuck Lake.- Enchantment Lakes Hike via Colchuck Lake
  • Making the steep climb up to Colchuck Lake.- Enchantment Lakes Hike via Colchuck Lake
  • Colchuck Lake Basin.- Enchantment Lakes Hike via Colchuck Lake
  • Colchuck Lake.- Enchantment Lakes Hike via Colchuck Lake
  • Colchuck Lake's side lake and autumn colors.- Enchantment Lakes Hike via Colchuck Lake
  • Colchuck Lake.- Enchantment Lakes Hike via Colchuck Lake
  • Colchuck Lake with Aasgard Pass (7,840') in the saddle.- Enchantment Lakes Hike via Colchuck Lake
  • Western larch (Larix occidentalis).- Enchantment Lakes Hike via Colchuck Lake
  • The boulder scramble on Colchuck Lake's southern shore.- Enchantment Lakes Hike via Colchuck Lake
  • Looking up at the pass between Dragontail and Colchuck Peak.- Enchantment Lakes Hike via Colchuck Lake
  • Looking up at Colchuck Peak (8,705').- Enchantment Lakes Hike via Colchuck Lake
  • Looking up at Colchuck Peak (8,705').- Enchantment Lakes Hike via Colchuck Lake
  • Thick Sitka alder (Alnus viridis) on Colchuck Lake's southern shore.- Enchantment Lakes Hike via Colchuck Lake
  • Making the steep climb up Aasgard Pass.- Enchantment Lakes Hike via Colchuck Lake
  • Salmonberry (Rubus spectabilis) on the trail up to Aasgard Pass.- Enchantment Lakes Hike via Colchuck Lake
  • Looking up at Aasgard Pass and Dragontail Peak.- Enchantment Lakes Hike via Colchuck Lake
  • Looking back down on Colchuck Lake.- Enchantment Lakes Hike via Colchuck Lake
  • Snow and ice on the climb up Aasgard Pass.- Enchantment Lakes Hike via Colchuck Lake
  • Making the final ascent up 7,840' Aasgard Pass.- Enchantment Lakes Hike via Colchuck Lake
  • View of Dragontail Peak from the top of Aasgard Pass.- Enchantment Lakes Hike via Colchuck Lake
  • Isolation Lake in the Enchantment Lakes Basin.- Enchantment Lakes Hike via Colchuck Lake
  • Isolation Lake in the Enchantment Lakes Basin.- Enchantment Lakes Hike via Colchuck Lake
  • Small pool between Isolation Lake and Inspiration Lake with McClellan Peak (8,364') in the distance.- Enchantment Lakes Hike via Colchuck Lake
  • Western larch (Larix occidentalis) in the Enchantment Lakes Basin.- Enchantment Lakes Hike via Colchuck Lake
  • White-tailed ptarmigans (Lagopus leucurus) in the upper Enchantment Lakes.- Enchantment Lakes Hike via Colchuck Lake
  • Rock ptarmigan (Lagopus muta) in the upper Enchantment Lakes.- Enchantment Lakes Hike via Colchuck Lake
  • View looking down on Crystal Lake.- Enchantment Lakes Hike via Colchuck Lake
  • View south of Mount Adams (12,281') from the Enchantment Lakes.- Enchantment Lakes Hike via Colchuck Lake
  • View west of Little Annapurna (left) and Dragontail Peak (right).- Enchantment Lakes Hike via Colchuck Lake
  • Panoramic view of the Enchantment Lakes Basin.- Enchantment Lakes Hike via Colchuck Lake
  • View east from above Perfection Lake with Prusik Peak and The Temple (8,292').- Enchantment Lakes Hike via Colchuck Lake
  • Looking down on Perfection Lake/Sprite Lake in the Enchantment Lakes Basin.- Enchantment Lakes Hike via Colchuck Lake
  • Leprechaun Lake in the Enchantment Lakes Basin.- Enchantment Lakes Hike via Colchuck Lake
  • Contributor Shane Kucera in the Enchantment Lakes Basin.- Enchantment Lakes Hike via Colchuck Lake
  • Panoramic view of Colchuck Lake from its southern shore with Cashmere Mountain (8,501') in the distance.- Enchantment Lakes Hike via Colchuck Lake
  • Base camp on Colchuck Lake's western shore.- Enchantment Lakes Hike via Colchuck Lake
  • Base camp on Colchuck Lake's western shore.- Enchantment Lakes Hike via Colchuck Lake
  • Early morning color at Colchuck Lake.- Enchantment Lakes Hike via Colchuck Lake
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Overview + Weather
Pros: 
Alpine lake wonderland. Abundant wildlife. Big vistas.
Cons: 
Overnight permit difficult to obtain. Very heavily used. Steep elevation gain.
Region:
Alpine Lakes Wilderness, WA
Congestion: 
High
Preferable Season(s):
Summer, Fall
Day-Use/Parking Pass Required:
NW Forest Pass
Total Distance: 
14.80 mi (23.82 km)
Trailhead Elev.: 
3,520 ft (1,073 m)
Net Elev. Gain: 
4,320 ft (1,317 m)
Trail Uses:
Hiking
Trail type: 
There-and-back
Dogs allowed: 
No

Current Local Weather

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Snow (under 1 in.) starting in the evening.
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12°

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Snow (2–4 in.) throughout the day.
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Snow (1–4 in.) throughout the day.
30°F
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Snow (1–3 in.) in the morning and afternoon and breezy overnight.
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Wed

Mixed precipitation (1–3 in. of snow) throughout the day.
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Thu

Mixed precipitation (1–3 in. of snow) throughout the day.
39°F
33°

Fri

Snow (7–10 in.) throughout the day.
37°F
30°
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Hike Description

Hike Description

Team

Alternately known as the Enchantments or Enchantment Lakes, this eastern-slope high-elevation basin in Washington's Alpine Lakes Wilderness is home to some of the best hiking in the Pacific Northwest. The area's reputation is well deserved, and it is also well broadcast, so if you want to hike in this granite and alpine lake paradise, you'll either need to be organized enough to apply for an overnight permit, or you'll have to be fit enough to make a day trip of it.

To get into the Enchantment Lakes Core Zone, you can either depart via the Snow Lakes Trail, which is roughly 10 miles in one-way and 5,830 feet of elevation gain, or you can make this more direct trek via Colchuck Lake, which is roughly 3 miles shorter one-way with a trailhead located 1,500 feet higher. Regardless, to climb up the entire trail all the way to the top of Aasgard Pass in one day you'll have to complete a 4,320-foot climb, which will test your strength and endurance on the way up and your knees on the way down.

The rocky landscape at the top under the shadow of Dragontail Peak is free for open exploration. A defined route is well marked by cairns every 20 yards or so, and subtle side trails lead to most of the lakes. Be sure to mind your step, as the high-elevation area of the Enchanment's is a sparsely-vegetated, fragile, tundra-like landscape. From here you can also traverse the talus slopes of Little Annapurna (8,364'), where some of the best views can be found with relatively moderate effort.

Overall, you'll certainly be impressed with this alpine/subalpine wilderness, and find few other landscapes are so densely packed with incredible vistas and stunning wildlife.

Permits and Camping

Because of its popularity, the Enchantments are on everyone's to-do list, and access into this alpine wonderland is strictly controlled. Protected by the Alpine Lakes Wilderness, the Forest Service has instituted a permit lottery for all overnight camping from May 15 through October 31 for the following five distinct camping zones (from east to west):

  • Snow Zone
  • Core Enchantment Zone (also permits camping in any other zone)
  • Colchuck Zone
  • Stuart Zone
  • Eightmile/Caroline Zone

Application for the lottery takes place February 15 through March 2, and the Wenatchee River Ranger Station in Leavenworth reserves a limited quantity for day-of applications that are given out on a first-come, first-served basis. For this backpacking trip, a permit for either the Colchuck or Core Enchanment Zone will be necessary.

To mitigate detrimental human impact to the area there are Rules and Regulations that have been established and should be well understood, including no campfires above 5,000 feet. Do note that permits are not required for day use, and if you have the stamina, the Enchanments Thru Hike is a 17.6-mile day-long trek that is popular among aggressive hikers.

Whether you are hiking the Enchantments over several days or on a thru hike, be sure to come prepared. For more information you can contact the Wenatchee River Ranger Station at 509.548.2550.

Field Guide + Trail Map

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Location + Directions

Location + Directions

Nearby Camping + Lodging

(28 within a 30 mile radius)

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(91 within a 30 mile radius)

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