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Colchuck Lake Trail

Alpine Lakes Wilderness, Washington

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Colchuck Lake Trail

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  • Colchuck Lake/Lake Stuart Trail.- Colchuck Lake Trail
  • Crossing over Mountaineers Creek.- Colchuck Lake Trail
  • Crossing over Mountaineers Creek.- Colchuck Lake Trail
  • Colchuck Lake/Lake Stuart Trail.- Colchuck Lake Trail
  • Colchuck Lake/Lake Stuart Trail.- Colchuck Lake Trail
  • Crossing over Mountaineers Creek.- Colchuck Lake Trail
  • Colchuck Lake with Dragontail Peak (8,840', center) and Colchuck Peak (8,705', right).- Colchuck Lake Trail
  • Looking up at the pass between Dragontail and Colchuck Peak.- Colchuck Lake Trail
  • Western larch (Larix occidentalis) at Colchuck Lake.- Colchuck Lake Trail
  • Colchuck Lake.- Colchuck Lake Trail
  • Colchuck Lake.- Colchuck Lake Trail
  • Colchuck Lake reflection.- Colchuck Lake Trail
  • Signage at Colchuck Lake.- Colchuck Lake Trail
  • Gray jay (Perisoreus canadensis) at Colchuck Lake.- Colchuck Lake Trail
  • Dusk at Colchuck Lake.- Colchuck Lake Trail
  • Departing Colchuck Lake.- Colchuck Lake Trail
  • Looking into the Lake Stuart Valley from the Colchuck Lake Trail.- Colchuck Lake Trail
  • A glimpse of Mount Stuart (9,415') from the Colchuck Lake Trail.- Colchuck Lake Trail
  • A glimpse of Mount Stuart (9,415') from the Colchuck Lake Trail.- Colchuck Lake Trail
Overview + Weather
Pros: 
Alpine lake wonderland. Abundant wildlife. Big vistas.
Cons: 
Overnight permit difficult to obtain. Very heavily used.
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Region:
Alpine Lakes Wilderness, WA
Congestion: 
High
Pets allowed: 
No
Net Elevation Gain: 
2,050.00 ft (624.84 m)
Parking Pass: 
NW Forest Pass
Preferable Season(s):
Summer, Fall
Total Distance: 
8.20 mi (13.20 km)
Trail type: 
There-and-back
Trailhead Elevation: 
3,520.00 ft (1,072.90 m)
Current Local Weather:
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Hike Description

Hike Description

Contributor

Colchuck Lake is one of the lakes that make up the Enchantments area of the Alpine Lakes Wilderness, which was established in 1976 and consists of 391,988 acres. The lakes are situated within the Cascade Mountains in Washington State, where visitors are privy to endlessly beautiful views of lakes, larch trees, snow-topped peaks, glaciers, and occasional goat sightings. At 7,840 feet, Aasgard Pass is the highest elevation point accessible by trail in the Enchantments; Colchuck Lake sits nearby at 5,570 feet with stellar views of Dragontrail and Colchuck peaks jutting up from the skyline.

The hike to Colchuck Lake may be an uphill battle, but the reward at the end is more than worth it. The pictures do not do justice to what is 360 degrees of alpine wilderness wonder. As the trail ascends through the forest, snowy peaks begin to sneak through the treetops. After crossing several log bridges and winding up switchbacks, a sign nailed to a tree marks 5,000 feet of elevation, and you know you are in the home stretch with 500 feet left of the 2,050 feet of total gain. After a hard day’s work, Colchuck Lake finally comes into sight with those magnificent icy peaks towering overhead, and all the effort is rewarded

Permits and Camping

Because of its notoriety, 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 June 15 through October 15 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 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.

Further, to mitigate detrimental human impact to the area there are Rules + 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 in the area, and if you have the stamina, the Enchanments Thru-Hike is a 17.6-mile day-long trek that is popular among aggressive hikers.

For more information you can contact the Wenatchee River Ranger Station at 509.548.2550.

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Updates, Tips + Comments

Field Guide + Trail Map

Field Guide + Trail Map

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Location + Directions

Location + Directions

Nearby Camping + Lodging

(30 within a 30 mile radius)

Nearby Adventures

(91 within a 30 mile radius)

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