00
Shares

5 Amazing Hikes in the Alpine Lakes Wilderness

06.14.17

Start Exploring
5 Amazing Hikes in the Alpine Lakes Wilderness
00

Shares

Advertisement
  • Snow Lake from a high point on the north side of Gem Lake.- 5 Amazing Hikes in the Alpine Lakes Wilderness
  • Gem Lake.- 5 Amazing Hikes in the Alpine Lakes Wilderness
  • Views from Wright Mountain are awesome!- 5 Amazing Hikes in the Alpine Lakes Wilderness
  • Bear Lake.- 5 Amazing Hikes in the Alpine Lakes Wilderness
  • Deer Lake.- 5 Amazing Hikes in the Alpine Lakes Wilderness
  • Entering the Alpine Lakes Wilderness on the Commonwealth Basin Trail.- 5 Amazing Hikes in the Alpine Lakes Wilderness
  • Views of Red Mountain and Lundin Peak from a ridge above the Commonwealth Basin.- 5 Amazing Hikes in the Alpine Lakes Wilderness
  • Granite Mountain Lookout.- 5 Amazing Hikes in the Alpine Lakes Wilderness
  • Looking northeast from the Granite Mountain Lookout.- 5 Amazing Hikes in the Alpine Lakes Wilderness
  • Mason Lake on the trail to Mount Defiance.- 5 Amazing Hikes in the Alpine Lakes Wilderness
  • Indian paintbrush and other wildflowers in bloom on Mount Defiance.- 5 Amazing Hikes in the Alpine Lakes Wilderness
  • The view northeast toward Glacier Peak from atop Mount Defiance.- 5 Amazing Hikes in the Alpine Lakes Wilderness
  • Looking down on Mason Lake, Little Mason Lake, Lake Kulla Kulla from Mount Defiance.- 5 Amazing Hikes in the Alpine Lakes Wilderness
  • A stare down with the local mountain goats (Oreamnos americanus) in the Enchantments.- 5 Amazing Hikes in the Alpine Lakes Wilderness
  • A moment to take it all in above Lake Viviane.- 5 Amazing Hikes in the Alpine Lakes Wilderness
  • Fall foliage along the Snow Lakes Trail. Nada Lake seen below.- 5 Amazing Hikes in the Alpine Lakes Wilderness
Article
Team

When anyone mentions the Alpine Lakes Wilderness, the Enchantments area immediately comes to mind and usually works its way into the next sentence of the conversation. And you can't deny its preeminence as one of the most beautiful gems of the Pacific Northwest. But say you've already been, or what is more likely, you didn't win the lottery to get a permit to stay overnight and the thru-hike sounds too brutal. Luckily there are so many other wonderful places to explore in the Alpine Lakes Wilderness. The area comprises over 400,000 acres along the crest of the Cascade Range in Central Washington. Hike through old-growth forest with a mix of Douglas fir, western redcedar, noble fir, silver fir and mountain hemlock. Summit some of the other amazing peaks in the Stuart Range. The area is just as rich in wildlife, deer, elk, mountain goats, black bears, songbirds and raptor such as osprey, hawks and eagles.

Given its proximity to Seattle and other cities in Central Washington, the trails in the Alpine Lakes Wilderness can become crowded on summer weekends or holidays. Plan your trip around these peak times if you want to avoid sharing the views with a lot of other people, and make sure you pack out all that you bring in with you.

Gem Lake + Wright Mountain Hike

Yes, this is one busy place, but as you gain ground above the Snow Lake Basin on the way to Gem Lake and Wright Mountain, the crowds begin to dissipate. At the same time, the views only get better the higher you go. There are a number of secluded (and less private) campsites to choose from around Gem Lake, and from here you can drop your packs, scramble up the ridge to the top of Wright Mountain, and gain some amazing, well-earned views of Washington's Central Cascades.

Bear + Deer Lakes

Nothing beats a long, rough road to the trailhead to keep the crowds to a minimum. Bear and Deer lakes are within a half mile of each other to the southwest of larger Lake Dorothy. You'll have your pick of campsites along these lakes, especially if you are able to make it in here mid-week. Wild blueberries growing on the trail are another perk that'll make for a wonderful day hike or overnight backpacking trip. 

Commonwealth Basin Trail to Red Pass

The Pacific Crest Trail runs through the Alpine Lakes Wilderness, including a portion of the hike to Red Pass. From here you'll gain impressive views of Lundin Peak and Red Mountain. But first, the trail starts from Snoqualmie Pass and into the Commonwealth Basin, with old-growth forests and more great vistas of the Alpine Lakes Wilderness.

Granite Mountain Lookout

The hike up to Granite Mountain Lookout is a very popular day hike, but for good reason. There are few other places where you can gain so much ground so quickly, and the views from atop Granite Mountain are amazing, to say the least. The fire lookout is often open in the summer, where a ranger can help orient you to the surrounding mountains.

Mount Defiance

Views are a given, but a hike through wildflowers, old-growth forest, alongside and overlooking isolated mountain lakes, and wonderful places to setup a backcountry camp is what the Alpine Lakes Wilderness is all about. The Ira Spring Trail to Mason Lake and onto Mount Defiance requires a creek crossing that can be prohibitively high in early spring, but it is a great hike in this incredible alpine area once the creek passable.

Enchantment Lakes Thru-Hike

Ok, so you checked out the five hikes above and still feel like you want to get into the Enchantments when you're up in the Alpine Lakes Wilderness, but you don't have a permit to stay overnight. Organize a shuttle and consider the thru-hike, a grueling day crossing the entire area, or pick out sections that you can day hike into and then camp outside of the restricted camping area. Regardless of what you choose to do, this area is beautiful, and if you are able to plan around late summer to early fall, you might also get to see the changing colors of the larch that make this highly photographed area even more visually striking.

Advertisement
Published By

Published by

Team
216 Adventures Explored
74 Adventures Published

Newsletter Signup

Join the Outdoor Project Community

Get access to essential planning materials and information for your next adventure. Take a few seconds to join the community. It’s FREE!

Free Field Guides + Maps

Post Updates, Tips + Comments

Organize + Track Your Adventures

Insider Detailed Info, News + Benefits

Custom Driving Directions

Recommended Campsites, Photos + Reservation Info