The Enchantments Trail

HARD 116 reviews
#1 of 139 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
4835 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.

One of the most beautiful hike.

2 months 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.

2 months ago

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

hiking
3 months ago

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.

3 months ago

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.

backpacking
3 months ago

Check out our video at TrailPerspective on YouTube: https://youtu.be/aX2oTF55Rzs

We started hiking the enchantments at the Snow Lakes TH due to the Jack Creek Fire closing down the Stuart Lake TH, making the thru hike impossible. We decided to do an out and back hike from Snow Lakes TH since we had a Core Enchantment Permit.

When we started the trail from Snow Lakes TH at 7:30AM we saw people very infrequently, and only the smell of smoke was evident. After completing the switchback marathon shortly after leaving the trailhead, we stopped once just before the Snow Creek crossing and again at the day use area on Nada Lake (Nada is way more beautiful than i expected,better than snow in my opinion). After lunch at Nada, we pushed to the snow lakes and encountered our first real boulder scrambling/decent elevation push. Cairns are easy to follow, just remember to keep looking for them. We often stopped looking out for them and just followed what we thought was the trail. Never got too far off course, but the cairns are there for a reason and following them is most likely the easiest path.

We arrived at the Snow Lakes exhausted, and saw plenty of open campsites around 1pm. However, many people seem to start from the TH late (9:00 or later) and expect to get a site at snow lake when they roll in around 6pm. I would highly recommend starting early or if starting late, settling for a site at Nada or earlier. We saw many hikers desperately seeking sites at snow lake around 4-6pm on our way back out.

So we continued to push toward the end of upper snow lake where we found a very nice campsite at the base of the push to Lake Viviane and the start of the core enchantment zone. It was 2pm and we were exhausted. Even though we took it very slow the entire day, other factors such as my buddy recovering from a respritory infection, etc prevented us from making better time.

Against our better judgement, we decided to push to Viviane on our first day. We were in that sort of numb exhaustion where you're tired but your body is just on autopilot. Anyway, this push from snow to viviane was definitely the hardest portion of the trip for us. However, this might've been due to our already depleted energy levels.

Alot of boulder scrambling and pretty much nothing but elevation gain, we arrived at lake viviane and set up camp. There was a commanding view from this site with boulders all around to lay out on (in attached video). Upper snow lake can be seen and its probably the best camp spot for watching the sunrise due to dropoff to snow lake being right next to it. There was a toilet with the best view, and was by far the best trail dump i've ever taken. Being able to sit down to go to the bathroom outdoors is a crazy luxury.

We were then stalked by a goat the entire night. We never peed at the site, but the goat was intelligent and knew that hikers mean pee so he didn't leave us alone. It was like having a dog just chilling at the foot of your bed. The goat was there when we went to sleep, and when we woke up at night. Not aggressive but we still kept our distance, even though he pretty much followed us on all of our camp chores.

The following day, we deeper into the core and were stunned by the beauty of the lakes (leprechaun,sprite,perfection,inspiration,gnome tarn). They were all sooo stunning and the smoke was non-existent. Its hard to choose but I would say my favorites were (Viviane,Gnome tarn,Leprechaun,& perfection).

We set up camp at Perfection, and lighten our packs to day hike out to Gnome tarn for some tea. By the time we made it up to Prusik pass, looking back at perfection lake and little annapurna was begining to look very smoky (pic attached). The route to gnome tarn beyond Prusik Pass is difficult to navigate. Theres cairns but some must have been knocked over, and so we had to basically just blind scramble until we got to the base of Prusik and found the trail down to Gnome Tarn. This side trip is an ABSOLUTE MUST, gnome tarn is so stunningly beautiful with prusik in the background. Prusik looks so different from every angle and this angle from gnome tarn is the MOST stunning. Lake viviane is also visible from the gnome tarn area, far below.

On our way back to camp at perfection, the smoke make little Annapurna disapear. We couldn't see it from perfection anymore. Worried about my hiking partner's respritory infection, we decided to pack up and get back down to Snow lake to make the hike out easier for the next day (~8mi instead of ~11mi). By the time we got back down to the snow lakes around 4pm, many sites were taken. However, we found a good site on lower snow putting us right near the decent to Nada for the next day.

This is were we started seeing hikers rolling in from their first day and expecting to find a spot at Snow at like 6PM! Not much available to say the least.

Our last day was a ton of descent and passing alot of sleeping

4 months ago

Wow, what an amazing adventure! My group had the Enchantment trail at times to ourselves. Simply gorgeous

hiking
4 months ago

Just amazing view after amazing view.
Start early if you're through hiking. The terrain makes it take longer than you might anticipate and will require a pretty high level of fitness.
-Download your map. I got slightly off trail a couple times and it was invaluable in helping guide me (and others who had also strayed) back on trail.
-Pack a portable phone charger. You'll be taking lots of pictures.
-Bring a filter. Water's everywhere. No need to carry a lot of water weight in your pack.
-Leave a beverage on ice in your car at the bottom. It'll give you something to look forward to slogging through those last miles. And DAMN it tastes fine as you sit down, scroll through your photos reliving the experience and congratulate yourself on your achievement.

hiking
4 months ago

The best hike I've been on in the PNW. Awesome alpine lakes! The fires kinda messed up the view but eventually blew over to get a quick picture.

Aasgard Pass is a beast don't go here half stepping because it will destroy you. I didn't go through to snow lake but perfection lake was a good place to stop to be back by 730pm of you depart at 730am.

I honestly didn't want to leave. Words and pictures don't do the Enchantments any justice. You have to see it to believe it.

You can hike through or camp over night. I'll camp overnight next time for sure.

Last bit of advice, have good gps or a well drawn, dependable map. There are a lot or carnes but getting around can throw you off path quickly. There a lot of ppl so you won't get lost.

4 months ago

Very challenging but possible in a day. Majestic views.

trail running
5 months ago

Amazing amazing amazing! Did a hike / run though and cannot believe how visually satisfying this place is. Good fitness and experience on the trails a must.

hiking
5 months ago

The most incredibly beautiful and challenging trek I have ever taken.

backpacking
5 months ago

Breathtaking views all around. Here's some details from our 5 day trip from July 14-18.

We hiked in from Colchuck and spent the night there. Water was great swimming temperature and bugs/goats were plenty. The following day we headed up Asgard
pass. There was 1 tiny section of snow (about 15-20 feet across) but otherwise all was dry. Try and follow the carins and don't forget to hydrate the day before and on the way up. There's a few areas that go close to the waterfall so you can get water in the way up.

Upper Core was snowy and windy. Gaiters helped but were not necessary. Snow was soft so beware of post holes over the next few days. We camped in the Upper core and bugs were a non-issue due to the breeze, however, it got extremely windy at night (gusts up to 50 mph). When heading to the lower core, you will be walking downhill through snow. Take your time and watch for crevices close to rocks. Lots of bugs in the lower core. Also lots of goats...be sure to pee on/between rocks if you can't find a toiled because they will destroy the vegetation trying to drink your urine.

The rest of the hike out was mostly downhill with minor snow (if any). We camped at Snow Lake our last night and hiked out to the parking lot in the AM.

Overall, beware of bugs and goats. Snow was a non-issue...gaiters and micros helped but were definitely not necessary. We also did some fishing in Inspiration Lake and caught a few nice trout. Enjoy the views and respect the land! Here's a short video I made if you would like to check out the conditions: https://youtu.be/GgWtGk0SgfM

backpacking
5 months ago

Beautiful scenery, stunning.
Love how access is limited.

Wish they wouldn't allow people to thru hike on day permits. Worst manners I have ever seen.

Day hikers would have pushed me off the trail to make time. Not a one said a word and several cut switchbacks or left trail after or while passing me.

backpacking
6 months ago

My best friend and I did this trail as a thru-hike on 6/10, from Stuart Lake Trailhead to Snow Lakes. Trail conditions were excellent, plenty of water sources, absolutely gorgeous views. Worth it completely!!

However, I would definitely reinforce that only VERY experienced hikers should consider the 18 miles as a day hike. We are very experienced backpackers and set a good steady pace, with few breaks, but needed 13 hours. Aasgard Pass is killer. Worth the sore muscles, but know what you are capable of.

Set up a shuttle if you only have one vehicle. We used Loop Connector and loved supporting a local small business! Also recommend an Airbnb or hotel after you're done... with a hot tub. Ours was heavenly at the end of this loong day.

Overall a beautiful hike and I can't wait to try again in the fall next year.

hiking
6 months ago

Love seeing the flowers and trees everywhere, ran into one rattler. Took a gazillion breaks, so many cool swimming holes along the way. Once we got to the top I felt incredible, it was bliss, it was beyond beautiful! I would recommend getting in shape before striving for the lakes, I was a bit sore the day after, HOLY TEMALES!

hiking
8 months ago

www.loopconnectorshuttle.com $15 per person | Being a local of Leavenworth, I have done The Enchantments over 10 times, each time a different experience! A beautiful hike that goes through gorgeous turquoise alpine lakes, 11 in total. When doing the hike thru know what you are getting yourself into, its 18 miles of various terrain that will put you through the test; although the scenery makes it all worth it hands down. The most grueling part of the hike is the parking and driving situation. Yo-yoing the cars at the end is my least favorite part and it was in the midst of doing this I came up with the solution of starting up a a shuttle service. Loop Connector will be running through the 2017 hiking season, at $15 a head and by reservation I meet hikers at the lower Snow Lakes parking lot and transport them and their gear to the Colchuck parking lot. This makes for more parking space as well as not having to retrieve the other car at the upper parking lot. No more bringing two cars. HAPPY HIKING!

trail running
10 months ago

I was told this was going to be a long hike, it was a long hike. Someone in our group had a GPS tracker device and it said we went longer than the advertised distance by several miles. We left Seattle around 5 am got back to Seattle around 10:30 pm. Lots of running and trying not to fall. Anyhow, very pretty, I would love to spend a 3 day weekend doing it again slower. Worth it!

backpacking
Wednesday, November 30, 2016

I did this hike about 4 years ago in the late spring early summer. A difficult hike with breathtaking scenery and lots of mountain goats. We took our time and completed this hike in a few days, enough time to bask in the overwhelming beauty-it's for good reason that this area is called "The Enchantments". While we did encounter several other groups of hikers along the way, the peace and pristine tranquility was in abundance. This is still one of my favorite and most memorable hikes.

Monday, September 19, 2016

Great job on this Guide. Very well done. I got to explore a little of the Enchantments last year backpacking into Stuart Lake. Such a beautiful place.

Load More