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Halvor Tweto | 09.16.2016

You were on the ball early this year and submitted your application to backpack through the Enchantments by the March deadline. Somehow, your luck panned out (which is odd, because you never win anything). You've recruited a conspirator or two (not difficult), considered your route into your camping zone, packed for some changeable weather, and debated about the extra ounces. Now you're all set to enjoy one of the Northwest's most beautiful backpacking trails.

Or: Your luck didn't pan out (which is more likely, because you never win anything), or you didn't hit the application deadline, and instead you're hoping to grab one of the limited number of day-of permits in Leavenworth. On the other hand, maybe you're one of the fit folks who move fast and light and don't need a permit because you'll thru-hike the whole shebang.

Regardless, if you want to get an early start on the trail, grabbing a night at a nearby campground en route to your dream trek will be essential. Thankfully you have plenty of good options that are very close to the Snow Lakes Trailhead and the Stuart Lake Trailhead, which is popular for the Colchuck Lake route. Here's a short list of nearby campgrounds sorted by proximity to the Snow Lakes Trailhead, and you'll find several more that are farther afield featured in below. Of course, while seasonal campground closures can be in-line with the Enchantment hiking season, campgrounds may be closed for other reasons, so be sure to check before you leave. And don't forget to share your comments and photos when you return!

  • Eightmile Campground: Just 8 miles from Leavenworth, this 45-site campground is the closest to the Snow Lakes Trailhead. Reservations available.
  • Bridge Creek Campground: Nine miles from Leavenworth at the confluence of Bridge and Icicle creeks, this small campground is first-come, first-served apart from one reservable group site.
  • Upper + Lower Johnny Creek Campground: This area has 65 first-come, first-served sites that are split into two campgrounds; more trees in the upper section, easier creek access in the lower section.
  • Ida Creek Campground: Still close to the Snow Lakes Trailhead, this 10-site first-come, first-served campground also provides terrific access to the swimming holes on Icicle Creek.
  • Chatter Creek Campground: These 12 first-come, first-served sites receive a little less pressure than neighboring sights due to a slightly greater distance from Leavenworth. One group site is reservable. You'll still enjoy easy access to the Enchantments, not to mention the creeks and Chatter Creek Trail.
  • Rock Island Campground: Like Chatter Creek, Rock Island is a great choice for lighter crowds in exchange for a longer distance from Leavenworth. Twenty-two first-come, first-served sites enjoy excellent creek access.
  • Black Pine Horse Camp + Campground: While obviously geared for horse packers, this 10-site campground is open for anyone. Sites are first-come, first-served and relatively open, but this is a good option if other campgrounds are not available.
  • Tumwater Campground: The Forest Service is currently evaluating the future of this 85-site campground. The campground sits in an area that is prone to flooding. The campground was closed for the 2016 season and slated to be reassessed prior to the 2017 season. If it remains open, this is a great option just 20 minutes from the Snow Lakes Trailhead.
  • Mineral Springs Campground: At 45 minutes from the Snow Lakes Trailhead, this isn't the closest option for your Enchantment Lakes access, but it is still very much on the way if you are approaching from the south on Highway 97. Seven first-come, first-served sites and one reservable group site.


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