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Enchantment Lakes Hike via Snow Lakes

Alpine Lakes Wilderness, Washington

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Enchantment Lakes Hike via Snow Lakes
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  • Early morning gathering near Snow Lakes.- Enchantment Lakes Hike via Snow Lakes
  • Hiking in the Enchanments.- Enchantment Lakes Hike via Snow Lakes
  • Morning frosted flower in the Enchanments.- Enchantment Lakes Hike via Snow Lakes
  • Morning frosted flower in the Enchanments.- Enchantment Lakes Hike via Snow Lakes
  • Mountain goat (Oreamnos americanus) in the Enchantments with McClellan Peak (8,364') at left and Little Annapurna (8,460') at center.- Enchantment Lakes Hike via Snow Lakes
  • A short break below the shadows of McClellan Peak (8,364').- Enchantment Lakes Hike via Snow Lakes
  • Western larch (Larix occidentalis) at Lake Viviane in the Enchantments.- Enchantment Lakes Hike via Snow Lakes
  • Mountain goat (Oreamnos americanus) in the Enchantments.- Enchantment Lakes Hike via Snow Lakes
  • Western larch (Larix occidentalis) in the Enchantments.- Enchantment Lakes Hike via Snow Lakes
  • Western larch (Larix occidentalis) in the Enchantments.- Enchantment Lakes Hike via Snow Lakes
  • Mountain goats (Oreamnos americanus) and Prusik Peak (8,000') in the Enchantments.- Enchantment Lakes Hike via Snow Lakes
  • CleverHiker's Dave Collins leaps to a perch below Little Annapurna with Mount Rainier (14,411') in the distance.- Enchantment Lakes Hike via Snow Lakes
  • View southeast from the summit of Little Annapurna (8,460').- Enchantment Lakes Hike via Snow Lakes
  • CleverHiker's Dave Collins below Little Annapurna (8,460').- Enchantment Lakes Hike via Snow Lakes
  • View south with Mount Rainier at right from the summit of Little Annapurna (8,460').- Enchantment Lakes Hike via Snow Lakes
  • Sunset view west from Little Annapurna (8,460').- Enchantment Lakes Hike via Snow Lakes
  • Descending Little Annapurna (8,460') with The Temple (left, 8,292') and Mclellan Peak (right, 8,364').- Enchantment Lakes Hike via Snow Lakes
  • Camp in the Enchantments with Prusik Peak and The Temple in the background.- Enchantment Lakes Hike via Snow Lakes
  • Outdoor Project Contributor and CleverHiker founder Dave Collins on the return hike.- Enchantment Lakes Hike via Snow Lakes
  • Western larch (Larix occidentalis) and Prusik Peak (8,000') in the Enchantments.- Enchantment Lakes Hike via Snow Lakes
  • Ice layer in the enchantments.- Enchantment Lakes Hike via Snow Lakes
  • Perfection Lake in the Enchantments.- Enchantment Lakes Hike via Snow Lakes
  • American dipper (Cinclus mexicanus).- Enchantment Lakes Hike via Snow Lakes
  • A lone western larch (Larix occidentalis) at Perfection Lake in the Enchantments.- Enchantment Lakes Hike via Snow Lakes
  • Perfection Lake in the Enchantments.- Enchantment Lakes Hike via Snow Lakes
  • Enchanments by night with Prusik Peak (8,000') in the distance.- Enchantment Lakes Hike via Snow Lakes
  • CleverHiker founder Dave Collins reviewing camping options.- Enchantment Lakes Hike via Snow Lakes
  • Hike along the Enchantment Lakes Trail between Isolation and Inspiration Lake.- Enchantment Lakes Hike via Snow Lakes
  • Frost in the Enchantments.- Enchantment Lakes Hike via Snow Lakes
  • Ice layer in the enchantments.- Enchantment Lakes Hike via Snow Lakes
  • View of Prusik Peak (8,000)' from the Gnome Tarn.- Enchantment Lakes Hike via Snow Lakes
  • Enchantments by night.- Enchantment Lakes Hike via Snow Lakes
Overview + Weather
Pros: 
Scenic alpine lakes. Larch trees in early autumn. Abundant wildlife.
Cons: 
Overnight permits by lottery system are difficult to obtain.
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Region:
Alpine Lakes Wilderness, WA
Congestion: 
High
Preferable Season(s):
Summer, Fall
Day-Use/Parking Pass Required:
NW Forest Pass
Total Distance: 
23.80 mi (38.30 km)
Trailhead Elev.: 
1,300 ft (396 m)
Net Elev. Gain: 
6,540 ft (1,993 m)
Trail Uses:
Hiking
Trail type: 
There-and-back
Dogs allowed: 
No
Current Local Weather:
Powered by Dark Sky

Today

Partly cloudy throughout the day.
64°F
44°

Sun

Partly cloudy throughout the day.
70°F
44°

Mon

Mostly cloudy throughout the day.
67°F
49°

Tue

Mostly cloudy throughout the day.
77°F
50°

Wed

Partly cloudy in the morning.
78°F
49°

Thu

Clear throughout the day.
79°F
49°

Fri

Mostly cloudy starting in the afternoon.
78°F
47°
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Hike Description

Hike Description

Team

The Enchantment Lakes in Washington's Alpine Lakes Wilderness are considered by many to be the premiere hiking destination in the entire Pacific Northwest. As a part of the crescent shaped Stuart sub-Range, the Enchantment Lakes, referred to by most simply as the "Enchantments," are a series of high-alpine opal pools strung together like pearls amidst glacier-polished granite. Hiking in the Enchantments is an adventure you won't soon forget.

Beyond the series of pristine lakes, cascading water, smooth granite formations, craggy peaks, and golden larch trees from late September to early October, the Enchantments are also well known for an abundance of resident wildlife, including mountain goats, black-tailed deer, picas, hoary marmots, pine martens, and ptarmigans.

There are two trailheads that provide direct access into the Enchantment Lakes Core Area: the Colchuck Lake Trailhead is situated at 3,450 feet on the western end, and the Snow Lakes Trailhead that sits much lower on the Stuart Range's eastern end at 1,300 feet. From the Snow Lakes Trailhead off of Icicle Road you'll cross over Icicle Creek and start the roughly 6,500-foot total climb immediately. Here the trail starts in an area that was burned in the 1994 wildfire that swept through the Icicle Creek Valley. The trail then enters  a lush forest dominated by a wide variety of fir and pine trees. After 5.2 miles you'll finally reach Nada Lake, the first lake, and from here the trek only gets better and better.

For many, 7,840-foot Aasgard Pass or the 8,364-foot summit of Little Annapurna make for the ideal turnaround point. Climbers may enjoy the extended challenge of summiting the 8,000-foot Prusik Peak, 8,040-foot Dragontail Peak, and even extending a traverse to 8,705-foot Colchuck Peak.

Permits + 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 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 applications that 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.

Further, to mitigate detrimental human impact to the area, there are rules and regulations that should be well understood, including no campfires above 5,000 feet. Do note that permits are not required for day use only, and if you have the stamina, the Enchanments Thru-Hike is a popular 17.6-mile day-long trek 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.

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

(24 within a 30 mile radius)

Nearby Adventures

(59 within a 30 mile radius)

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