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Pets allowed
No
Elevation Gain
?
Trail type
There-and-back
Distance
8.20 mi (13.20 km)
Please respect the outdoors by practicing Leave No Trace. Learn more about how to apply the principles of Leave No Trace on your next outdoor adventure here.

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.

Logistics + Planning

Preferable season(s)

Summer
Fall

Congestion

High

Parking Pass

NW Forest Pass

Pros

Alpine lake wonderland. Abundant wildlife. Big vistas.

Cons

Overnight permit difficult to obtain. Very heavily used.

Trailhead Elevation

3,520.00 ft (1,072.90 m)

Net Elevation Gain

2,050.00 ft (624.84 m)

Address

NF-7601
Leavenworth, WA 98826
United States

Features

Backcountry camping
Mountaineering
Big Game Watching
Wildlife
Big vistas
Old-growth forest
Big Game Watching

Location

Field Guide + Map

Nearby Lodging + Camping

Comments

10/03/2015
An incredible place, particularly in the fall with golden Larches.
08/04/2017
Fun hike with views of a beautiful alpine lake surrounded by towering granite peaks! Interesting trail on the way up with valley vistas, crystal clear streams, and lots of wildlife (we saw deer, grouse, mountain goats, trout...). It's about 8 miles if you stop at the first large lake viewpoint, but we enjoyed exploring the trail along the west side of the lake.
08/11/2016
Beautiful day for a trek up to Colchuck Lake! This place is amazing and worth the effort for sure. We headed up in the afternoon and did a little jumping off the rocks to cool off. That water is "refreshing" for sure!
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