The Enchantments Trail

HARD 114 reviews
#1 of 137 trails in

The Enchantments Trail is a 17.9 mile moderately trafficked point-to-point trail located near Leavenworth, Washington that features a lake and is only recommended for very experienced adventurers. The trail offers a number of activity options and is best used from July until October.

DISTANCE
17.9 miles
ELEVATION GAIN
5383 feet
ROUTE TYPE
Point to Point

backpacking

birding

camping

hiking

nature trips

rock climbing

trail running

walking

forest

lake

river

views

waterfall

wild flowers

wildlife

blowdown

old growth

rocky

scramble

snow

no dogs

This is THE backpacking destination in the state of Washington. Wander through soft tundra meadows, glacial-cirque lakes, crystal clear trickling streams, and impossible granite rock formations in the heart of the Alpine Lakes Wilderness. It will make you feel like you're in a completely different part of the world. Note that you MUST have a permit to camp in this area and they are distributed months in advance, so plan ahead and see below for more info. This area is thought to be discovered by A.H. Sylvester, who was originally a topographer for the USGS but went on to supervise Wenatchee National Forest starting in 1908. Climbers didn't start enjoying this area for recreation until the late 1940's. [100 Hikes in Washington's Alpine Lakes (1st ed.), Spring, Ira; Manning, Harvey, 1993] And the permit system, designed to protect the area from destructive humans, was not put in place until 1981. The big question is: which side to enter from? The Snow Lake entrance is longer, more gradual, and less scenic. The Colchuck Lake entrance is shorter and steeper (maybe even slippery and dangerous), but Colchuck Lake is beautiful. The traditional entrance would be Snow Lake because this side brings you through the Enchantments "in order," meaning you start in the Lower Enchantments and work your way up to the Upper Enchantments. It's your choice, but this guide is written assuming you're hiking in from Snow Lake, all the way through the Enchantments, and out the Colchuck Lake side. The permit lottery system might actually decide this for you based on what zones you're allowed to camp in! Some individuals more on the "hard" end of the spectrum that will do this entire through-hike in one day. If you have a light pack, it's possible, but bring a headlamp and enough food and gear to spend the night if you have to. No fires or dogs up here. But there will be enough scenery to keep you company.

2 days ago

The enchantments basin is incredible and worth the trip. One of the best hikes in Washington

There are mountain goats in the region that will follow you.

18 days ago

One of the best views I have had in Washington. Love the enchantments.

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This hike was definitely more fulfilling than my previous hike to Lake Vicente (which was also gorgeous)
It took us about 13 hours to complete while taking several long breaks. It definitely isn’t just 17.9 miles, especially considering you’ll wander around some parts for pictures. Ended up being 22.4 miles total. We started at the Stuart Lake trailhead, so the first 8 miles were very strenuous but also extremely beautiful. After completing the hike, I was glad I didn’t start at the Snow Lakes trailhead, as it is very tedious, long, and not too exciting until you reach the upper enchantments. There were also so many switchbacks and boulder fields on the snow lakes side, it was pretty annoying for me. If I were to do it again, I wouldn’t do it in one day, as it is very strenuous, no matter how fit you think you are. I would also turn around after reaching the upper enchantments after submitting asgaard pass. Asgaard pass has a reputation for a reason by the way. It is a killer! Very steep! Took us about 2 hours to climb it. The views at the top are indescribable though. I truly have no words for how beautiful it is. Lots of beautiful larches at the top as well. There are many helpful cairns throughout the hike, and in some places, you will need to refer to them.

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This is a late review. Myself and 5 other guys won a core zone permit in July of 2015 and hiked this one in three days, spending two nights. We camped at edge of Colchuck Lake on night one and camped at Snow Lake on night two. So we walked about 6 miles a day.

This hike / camping trip was a total adventure. Just an amazing life experience. Such a beautiful wonderland in this area. Absolutely recommended for anyone who wants a transformative hiking experience. If you can get the permit and spend a couple of nights- that's the way to go.

What I liked about starting on the Colchuck side: going up Asgard Pass. It was hard and mildly harrowing with a 25+ pound pack on, but it made for a fine feeling of accomplishment when we got to the top. We had to make it to Snow Lake to camp by night fall so that was a big day in terms of exercise, but short of adding another night to the trip- that was the way to do it.

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