Colchuck Lake Trail

HARD 346 reviews
#2 of 24 trails in

Colchuck Lake Trail is a 7.7 mile heavily trafficked out and back trail located near Leavenworth, Washington that features a lake and is rated as difficult. The trail offers a number of activity options and is best used from April until October.

DISTANCE
7.7 miles
ELEVATION GAIN
2319 feet
ROUTE TYPE
Out & Back

birding

hiking

nature trips

trail running

walking

forest

lake

river

views

waterfall

wild flowers

wildlife

rocky

no dogs

This is a challenging hike with beautiful scenery in the Alpine Lakes Wilderness Area of Washington State. This alpine lake is accompanied by the twin spires of Dragontail Peak and Colchuck Peak at the far end of the lake. Colchuck Lake Trail starts at Stuart Lake trailhead off of Forest Service Road 7601, which can be accessed from Icicle Creek Road. The parking area can be busy, as visitors access the Enchantments and Stuart Lake from this trailhead. A northwest forest pass is required. The hike starts out with an easy mile and a half, creek side walk through the forest. At some points along this portion of the hike you will catch a glimpse of Mountaineer Creek. After the walk through the woods, you will cross the creek on a bridge before beginning the first real incline of the hike. After a series of rocky switch backs you will reach the trail junction for Stuart, and Colchuck lakes. Stay to the left and you will happen upon another log bridge, stunning vistas that act as the gateway to the wilderness. You will stay to the right after crossing the bridge, and walk along the creek before your next big push uphill. The climb remains pretty consistent rocky, and with tree roots but manageable. You will have a few areas with views perfect for photo opportunities on your way to the lake. Once you reach Colchuck lake, you will be rewarded with beautiful views of the blue/green lake with the peaks towering behind it. The trail continues past Colchuck Luck up Aasgard Pass to the Enchantment Lakes if you choose to extend your hike. If not, return the way you came.

hiking
4 minutes ago

Awesome trail with a great payoff at the end. Easy going until that last mile or so when the trail steepens but well worth it. Wife and I did the way up in just over two hours with plenty of stops for pictures and water. Would definitely recommend getting an early start on the hike! It was a perfect temperature when we started off around 7 am.

my most favorite hike thus far! this is a MUST!

5 days ago

It was so awesome!!! The trail is a very good condition. Get there early to find parking since it’s a very popular destination.

hiking
1 month ago

Jump in the water

1 month ago

It was definitely difficult for us but so worth it!

backpacking
5 months ago

love it here so much

hiking
6 months ago

We went slow and took breaks as needed - it wasn’t as difficult as I expected! The beauty is incredible, both at the top and on the way up. Definitely recommend!

hiking
6 months ago

This place is absolutely beautiful, the hike up is great. I ventured out on the trail at 4 am to get to the lake by first light. this was more than enough time. Hiking times personally were 2 hrs and 45 minutes up and 2 hrs down. Highly recommend this one!

6 months ago

Amazing hike. The Alpine Lake is something to see. I would say this hike is difficult but worth it

hiking
6 months ago

We went last September and still talk about this hike!! We took it slow and had lunch at the lake. The weather started to turn on the way back down, so we were glad we had layers.

hiking
6 months ago

Perfect fall day, still some larches hanging on, no micro spikes needed.

hiking
6 months ago

This trail is my favorite out of all the trails I've hiked. I hiked it at 3AM so we could be up at the lake for sunrise and the way up was easy for me. The sunrise reflecting off of the water and lighting up the mountain behind it was beautiful. The way down was an asskicker but that may have been because I was running off of a 30 minute power nap :) I would recommend for any semi-experienced hiker. I saw some kids going up and I knew they would be exhausted by the end. About 3 hours total of hiking for my group but we were moving pretty quick.

hiking
7 months ago

Started at 10AM, Finished at 3PM. Shed layers on the way up and put them back on at Colchuck Lake. Pretty cold up at the top, not a ton of snow on the ground, trails weren't too bad. May get worst with the precipitation coming in soon. Larches looked really cool! Definitely a good hike though.

7 months ago

Winter conditions are moving in. While micros are not necessary, things are freezing up and I would recommend them.

Beautiful time of year, the larches are practically glowing!

hiking
7 months ago

This was so beyond beautiful but way too many people. I left at 6am on Sunday morning and started with atleast 20 others and on the way down we say hundreds of people.

Bring gloves and hiking poles as it's a winter wonderland up top. You wont need snow boots or anything as it's not deep but it's cold so bring warm waterproof hiking shoes too.

Also make sure your car can go up without getting stuck the road is pretty gnarly on the way up. I saw a lot of small compact cars do it tho but I wouldn't do it without a truck or 4wd.

hiking
7 months ago

This was my first ‘harder’ level hike (just got into hiking this year) - it was a good hike - weather was great (early October) - drove over from eastern Washington - got to the trail by 8 am. There were a few cars there already (on a Wednesday) - most I believe were campers. The three mile dirt road was good, took a family car with no issues, just normal bumpy road. You’ll need a parking pass - The trail is well maintained - went early and didn’t see anyone on the way up the trail but saw a lot when I was heading back down. Typically I don’t stay at the end of the trail too long, usually just eat a snack real quick, take some photos and leave, but this one i stayed a lot longer — amazing amazing view - one of the many reasons why Washington state is one of the prettiest states. I might have to do this hike every year now

7 months ago

Did this one yesterday. Got a late start getting there at 2PM from Seattle; 2.5 hour drive. It don't have an SUV but my car was fine on the gravel road, just watch for potholes. As others have said, this try is at least 9 miles, not 8. It took me about 2.5 hours to complete but I ran parts of it. FYI the top is much colder and windier than the bottom; I was freezing. Bring a decent coat to enjoy the lake. Note that the sun goes behind the mountain at like 4PM so if you want to see the sun on the lake start early. Agree that you need to bring water (not an easy hike) and you should wear hiking shoes because their grip is really good on rocks. Hiking poles help too since elevation gain is 2564 feet. Finally be careful if you are heading back to Seattle at night because the Stephens Pass weather can be tricky. Highly recommend checking the Stephens Pass weather if there is rain nearby and you plan on driving through the pass.

hiking
7 months ago

Wow - just wow! This was an incredible hike! I started from the parking lot around 8am and it was way more enjoyable. I hardly saw any people until I was coming back. The parking lot/road wasn't full yet either which was nice!

A few things to note:
- You have to drive 3.6 miles on a gravel road before you reach the trailhead. I did it in my car just fine but there were definitely some big potholes.
- I clocked it at around 4.7 miles by time I got to Colchuck Lake from the trailhead which meant this hike is really closer to 9.4 miles round trip.
- Don't attempt this hike without proper gear such as hiking boots, water, and food. I was surprised by how many people I saw in Nikes with no water or food at all.... that's dangerous!!!
- Don't feed wild animals. I sat down to eat my sandwich on my way down from the lake and at least 10 birds flew over to me which means they are well-trained.

hiking
7 months ago

If you want a phenomenally beautiful lake hike this is for you. If you want to stand on the peak of a mountain top then this is day one of your adventure. I saw a negative review below that talked about the signage. That is why that person is an irresponsible hiker. She didn't do her homework... not even the basic shhhhh.... stuff. She did not stop at the ranger station in Leavenworth (a 10 minute detour that is well worth the time and might save your life). Before I ever hit the trail I check in at a Forest Ranger Station. and check on trail conditions and seek out warnings. An uninformed and irresponsible hiker gave a negative rating to one of the best trails in the state. I wonder why....

hiking
7 months ago

Perfectly balanced hike as far as challenging and flat areas. The water was a shade of blue I have never seen before!

hiking
7 months ago

Awesome experience !
I will do it again

hiking
7 months ago

I waited a year for a friend to do this with me and finally went alone - it was worth it! It's a lovely lake. I went in early summer and it wasn't warm enough out to swim yet. I'd love to go back.

7 months ago

closed because of wild fire

8 months ago

It was a long hike but lake view wasnt that great than i expectes.

backpacking
8 months ago

A million stars for this trail. Absolutely serene

hiking
8 months ago

This is a beautiful hike but I wouldn't personally rate it as hard. I think moderate fits it better. The real reward is the lake and surrounding mountains. The lake is a beautiful blue. Watch out for the chipmunks. They'll get ya! lol

hiking
8 months ago

pretty hard but worth it!

hiking
8 months ago

Somehow the USFS has time to put up "no drone" signs and other silly rules, but doesn't have time to fix the obnoxiously bad road to the trail head, or the lack of parking on weekends. There is also NO mention of Colchuck Lake on the signs at the trail head. Why? This hike starts from the Stuart Lake trail head, but you have to hike in for several miles just to see a sign mentioning Colchuck Lake. Is it really so hard for USFS to at least put a sign at the trail head telling you that you're at the right starting point for Colchuck Lake? Seriously. The lake itself is absolutely amazing, but the management is bad.

hiking
8 months ago

It was a bit smokey from the nearby fires but still beautiful

backpacking
8 months ago

Amazing hike. Super easy to start and then crazy incline. 100% worth it

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