Enchantment Lakes Thru-Hike

Alpine Lakes Wilderness, Washington

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Enchantment Lakes Thru-Hike
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  • Fall foliage along the Snow Lakes trail. Nada Lake seen below.- Enchantment Lakes Thru-Hike
  • The area is dressed in its fall best.- Enchantment Lakes Thru-Hike
  • Lower Enchantments area.- Enchantment Lakes Thru-Hike
  • A stare down with the local mountain goats (Oreamnos americanus).- Enchantment Lakes Thru-Hike
  • Lake Viviane in The Enchantments.- Enchantment Lakes Thru-Hike
  • Leprechaun Lake in the Lower Enchantments.- Enchantment Lakes Thru-Hike
  • Leprechaun Lake with McClellan Peak overhead.- Enchantment Lakes Thru-Hike
  • Prusik Peak and the Temple emerging from the cloud cover.- Enchantment Lakes Thru-Hike
  • Looking down the Lower Enchantment area with Prusik Peak and the Temple in the background- Enchantment Lakes Thru-Hike
  • Lake Perfection (properly named) with Little Annapurna in the distance.- Enchantment Lakes Thru-Hike
  • Walking through the golden larches next to Lake Perfection.- Enchantment Lakes Thru-Hike
  • Staring at Little Annapurna from the Upper Enchantments.- Enchantment Lakes Thru-Hike
  • The "lower" Upper Enchantment area. Looking at Little Annapurna on the left and Dragontail Peak to the right.- Enchantment Lakes Thru-Hike
  • A moment to take it all in above Lake Viviane.- Enchantment Lakes Thru-Hike
  • The view of Inspiration Lake and Prusik Peak  while decending down into the Lower Enchantments.- Enchantment Lakes Thru-Hike
  • Small pool of water in the Upper Enchantment area.- Enchantment Lakes Thru-Hike
  • Little Annapurna.- Enchantment Lakes Thru-Hike
  • Prusik Peak and the Temple seen from the Upper Enchantment Lakes- Enchantment Lakes Thru-Hike
  • Upper Enchantment Lakes area. - Enchantment Lakes Thru-Hike
  • Isolation Lake with McClellan Peak in distance.- Enchantment Lakes Thru-Hike
  • Atop Aasgard Pass, with a peek of Isolation Lake.- Enchantment Lakes Thru-Hike
  • Isolation Lake with Dragontail Peak overhead.- Enchantment Lakes Thru-Hike
  • Staring up the daunting Aasgard Pass (Colchuck Pass).- Enchantment Lakes Thru-Hike
  • Lake Colchuck in The Enchantments.- Enchantment Lakes Thru-Hike
  • Leprechaun Lake.- Enchantment Lakes Thru-Hike
  • The trail along Perfection Lake with vibrant fall colors.- Enchantment Lakes Thru-Hike
  • A very colorful sunrise over Perfection Lake and Prusik Peak on the left.- Enchantment Lakes Thru-Hike
  • The shore of Crystal Lake.- Enchantment Lakes Thru-Hike
  • Prusik Peak above Gnome Tarn.- Enchantment Lakes Thru-Hike
  • Vibrant sunrise over Perfection and Inspiration Lakes.- Enchantment Lakes Thru-Hike
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Overview + Weather
Pros: 
Great views. Goat spotting. Alpine lakes. Wildflowers.
Cons: 
Crowds.
Region:
Alpine Lakes Wilderness, WA
Congestion: 
High
Preferable Season(s):
Spring, Summer, Fall
Day-Use/Parking Pass Required:
NW Forest Pass
Total Distance: 
17.60 mi (28.32 km)
Trailhead Elev.: 
1,300 ft (396 m)
Net Elev. Gain: 
6,500 ft (1,981 m)
Trail Uses:
Hiking
Trail type: 
One-way/Shuttle
Dogs allowed: 
No

Current Local Weather

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Today

Snow (6–9 in.) throughout the day.
30°F
23°

Wed

Snow (5–8 in.) throughout the day.
34°F
29°

Thu

Snow (1–3 in.) throughout the day.
34°F
28°

Fri

Light snow (under 1 in.) until afternoon, starting again in the evening.
37°F
26°

Sat

Light snow (under 1 in.) throughout the day.
37°F
15°

Sun

Snow (1–3 in.) until evening, starting again overnight.
36°F
24°

Mon

Light snow (under 1 in.) until afternoon, starting again in the evening.
35°F
26°
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Hike Description

Hike Description

Contributor

Hiking through the stunning basins, lakes, and peaks known collectively as the Enchantments is to experience the Alpine Lakes Wilderness at its best. Because it is one of the most scenic areas in the Washington Cascades, many decide to take their time hiking this demanding route; thru-hiking is also an option, however, for those who wish to push their limits. A thru-hike covers a course of terrain that could easily be done in three or four days in one difficult day. Both the schedule and pace are strenuous, but the thru-hike option carries the significant advantage of not requiring a permit, which can be difficult to obtain.

There are two points of entry to start this day hike, and if you plan on doing it in one go, you'll need to set a shuttle in the morning or the night before, or you can arrange a shuttle with Leavenworth Shuttle + Taxi. Call 509.548.7433 for details.

If you begin the crescent-shaped trek at the 1,300-foot Snow Lakes Trailhead you will gain approximately 6,500 feet of elevation over the 10+ miles to 7,840-foot Aasgard Pass, the highest point on the route. If you decide to start at the 3,450-foot Stuart Lake/Colchuck Lake Trailhead instead, you climb less overall, but the steep ascent up to Aasgard Pass will test you physically.

Expect to see a lot on this trail. With over eight gigantic alpine lakes, it is difficult not to linger as you make your way through the core section. Along the trail, watch for wildflowers and mountains goats. With enough scenic views to fill up your camera's memory card, be sure you are ready for this day-long adventure.

Permits + Camping

Should you want to spend the night, note that you will need a special overnight permit. 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 in February and March. However, the Wenatchee River Ranger Station in Leavenworth reserves a limited quantity for day-of application, and these are given out on a first-come, first-served basis. For this backpacking trip a permit for either the Snow or Core Enchanment Zone will be necessary, with the latter being most desirable.

To mitigate detrimental human impact to the area there are further Rules and Regulations that have been established and should be well understood, including no campfires above 5,000 feet.

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.

Updates, Tips + Comments

Updates, Tips + Comments

Field Guide + Trail Map

Field Guide + Trail Map

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Location + Directions

Location + Directions

Nearby Camping + Lodging

(22 within a 30 mile radius)

Nearby Adventures

(58 within a 30 mile radius)

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