Snow Lakes Trail is a 16.2 mile out and back trail located near Leavenworth, WA that features a lake and is rated as difficult. The trail offers a number of activity options and is accessible from May until November.
Directions from Leavenworth: Take Icicle Road west for approximately 5 miles to a winter recreation area on the left. Watch for the Snow Lakes Trailhead immediately beyond.
hard trip and the long way to the core zone...we will go through colchuck next time....but a great trip!
Difficult yet beautiful
amazing view and trail
The largest lakes in The Enchantments zone and well worth the long haul. First let me clarify, starting at Snow Lakes trail head off Icicle Road hiking to Lower & Upper Snow Lakes is somewhere between 6-7 miles, if returning the same way that's 12-14 miles. The 24.9 miles shown in the hikes description is referring to hiking The Enchantment Traverse which is a totally different beast. With recent reviews ranging from "we lost the trail", "couldn't make it to snow lakes" to "the lakes are very accessible" we decided to take a day trip before backpacking next week.
Personally I think the hardest part of the hike is the first mile which leaves you climbing steep switchbacks with little cover due to past forest fires until you reach more wooded terrain in the Alpine Lakes Wilderness about 2200ft. Next switchbacks start around 2.5 miles across slides into the valley. Just over 4 miles in at about 4000ft cross a sturdy bridge and continue trekking for another mile and a half to Nada Lake. Nice spot for a quick rest but don't get to comfy the much more rewarding snow lakes lie just another mile.
Left at 10am 5/21 after a few hours of pouring morning rain. We were testing our backpacking gear with 40lbs so took us about 3-1/2 to 4hrs to reach Snow Lakes with only a few short stops, could be done quicker in summer months with less/lighter gear. Coming down takes a little less time but would not suggest leaving the lakes much later than 3-4pm unless you want to be hiking back to the car in the dark. Used our rain coats and rain flys for packs but DID NOT need snow shoes, crampons or micro spikes to reach the lakes.
There were some tree's down and large rocks in places but after the winter we had what else would one expect? No bugs when we went. Most of the snow is gone, some patches in shady spots and above Nada Lake but nothing that has not already been walked on or easily walked around. Snow Lakes were completely thawed. There were several groups of hikers who reported small amounts of fresh snow from Friday night 5/20 but it was all melted by the time we arrived the lakes by 2pm. Through hikers heading to Upper Enchantment Lakes & Asgard Pass seemed to all have crampons and those who had snow shoes reported not needing them. In terms of people recently reporting losing the trail keep an eye out for easy to spot stacks of rocks left by other hikers, foot prints, pole marks. Unless you had never done this hike before or were very unfamiliar with Leavenworth area I can't imagine ever feeling lost.
In addition to beautiful alpine lakes this hike also includes frequent mountain goat sightings and is sure to leave you feeling WORKED if done in one day. Happy Hiking!
This trail is for serious hikers. The unfavorable switchbacks and rocky (loose) terrain, not to mention you lose sight of the trail (snow) roughy 5 miles up. We found ourselves making up a trail as we went. Never made it to the Lakes, because of the uncertainty. Lots of bugs also.
Steep for the 1st hour or so, then a bit more gradual until you near the top where the incline becomes steep once agin. This is one of my favorites as you hike up along side the Snow Creek past several waterfalls.
Long hike to get to the edge of the Enchantments, but upper Snow Lake is gorgeous. Lake Nada looks more impressive from high above while on the way back. The first mile can get hot if you get a late start on a sunny day, and then much cooler around the Snow Lakes. 99% snow free all the way to the lakes as of May 16.
Ignore the people who clearly didn't make it to even Lake Nada. This is a strenuous hike simply due to the elevation gain over a long distance. Climbing and switchbacks are just part of hiking so if you don't like to work, don't hike. There are water sources all the way up with the exception of maybe the first mile where you climb up from Icicle Creek. My biggest complaint is that there isn't any chance for solitude. The Enchantments are popular and you meet people in both directions frequently along the trail.
This trail is a smoker though. If you carry excessive weight or if you are not in shape get ready for a miserable couple days of exercise.
A tough hike, but reap your reward in the campsites on the south side of upper Snow Lake. Most have ready access to the lake for clear water. Plenty of water & good rest stops along the way. We caught thimbleberries in season--yum!
If you can drop about 10 lb from your pack weight and wear light hiking shoes (as we did), you will find this trail much easier. I didn't see much call for heavy ankle supporting boots--just watch your step and go one step at a time. Unlike the approach from the Stuart Lake trailhead, the risk of injury hiking this approach to the Enchantments is almost zero. We found Nada Lake very peaceful and a nice level break before the final push up to the Snow Lakes. If it's sunny, I suggest an umbrella with a reflective emergency blanket tied to the spokes to temper the blazing hot rays. I also suggest that hikers walk hills, with weight in a pack, while at home to prepare for this trip and any others--training pays dividends.
If you don't go to the Lower Enchantments on the first day, you'll appreciate the rest at Snow Lakes.
We foolishly attempted this trail without prior research. We didn't make it past the fairly intense switchbacks, as it was mid-day and in direct sunlight. The scenery wasn't incredible or anything, but there were a few okay views (though again, we didn't really make it all the way to the top). Mainly a leg workout.
Overall disappointed.. mainly out in the open rocky terrain. Too many switchbacks all the way up. Scenery wasn't as impressive as other places (the hike would probably be better in the colder seasons). A trail if you intend to just hike up and down for a leg workout.
I made this hike in August 2010 and again in July 2012. The first two miles are the worst with steep switchbacks and little or no shade. Time your hike to cover this section either early or late in the day to avoid getting baked by the sun. Nada Lake and the Snow Lakes are beautiful with excellent camp sites. I saw goats each time I went. In 2010 I was able to cross the Snow Lakes dam easily without getting wet. This year there was about 3 inches of water cascading over the dam and I had to wade across barefoot. It is pretty spooky wading across this narrow dam carrying a load.
I did a day trip up to the Enchantments but was only able to get to Lake Vivian because of ice. The hike from the Snow Lakes up to the Enchantments is much rougher that the trail from Icicle Creek up to the Snow Lakes and requires scrambling on all fours across several hard rock areas but it is worth it once you get there.
This is a nice trail however, it is VERY long, hot, many switchbacks, and not a very close source for water most of the time. Towards the top it gets nice and shady, and there is a beautiful place to stop near a river/waterfall and have lunch. But overall, i must agree with previous reviews that approaching it from the otherside is better. Beautiful area though and recommended everyone should experience!
Having visited this trail three times, I would suggest an alternate approach, mainly because I think this trail is LONG and BORING. Other than the Snow Creek Wall, Nada Lake and an occasional mountain goat located near the Lake (Snow) itself, I don't think there's that much to see. The alternate I would suggest would be coming in from the Stuart Lake TH and taking a few days to do the loop, spending most of your time in the Enchantment Basin/s. For the more ambitious crowd, Wedge Mountain might be an option...BUT from the Wedge Mtn summit ridge down into the Snow Creek Valley, it is very steep and hazardous. An experienced mountain climber might feel comfortable here, but I sure wouldn't. Hiking out Snow Creek is the same...BORING and LONG. You can see the Icicle Road from above, but it seems to take hours to reach it!
Lots of switchbacks! Great trail though.. some of it through an old forest fire. Passes Nada Lake and is part of the Enchantments Loop. Incredible! Very beautiful country. Nice camp sites.
I thought this hike was absolutely amazing. The initial hike out is really tough, but gets better after a mile or two. I did a one-day trip, but I think this trail would be better as a 2-3 day hike. There are some great places to camp when you get to Snow Lake. The scenery is astounding. I also had some really close contact with 5 mountain goats. Definitely check it out.
the rugged mtns along the way are very impressive and the sheep were worth the hike alone