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The Enchantments Trail is a 23.6 mile heavily trafficked point-to-point trail located near Leavenworth, Washington that features a lake and is only recommended for very experienced adventurers. The trail is primarily used for hiking, rock climbing, camping, and backpacking and is best used from July until October.

Length 23.6 mi Elevation gain 5,003 ft Route type Point to Point
Backpacking Camping Hiking Rock climbing Forest Lake River Views Waterfall Wild flowers Wildlife Blowdown Rocky Scramble Snow No dogs
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Getting There

New parking rules that no overflow parking is allowed beyond the parking lot. Park on Right side of the road because there is no “No Parking” sign clearly posted near the parking lot but there is one on the Left side. A “No parking” sign is posted further down on the Right side. Ticket is $50 plus a $30 processing fee! 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.

Federal Northwest Forest Pass required to park, backcountry camping permits required to camp, awarded by lottery by the Leavenworth Ranger Staion

Wenatchee National Forest Leavenworth Ranger Station 600 Sherbourne Leavenworth, WA 98826 Tel: 509.458.6977

I recommend an overnight trip that's at least two nights, hopefully three. For this, you'll need a permit, which is not easy to get. Applications for permits are accepted starting in February each year. There is an art to applying because you can be as flexible as you want with dates and locations. It's always a balancing act between trying to get the right time of year and making sure you actually get a permit. You usually know by March/April if you "scored" and are permitted camp up there. Permits are broken out by Zones: Core Enchantments, Snow Lake, and Colchuck Lake. Even if you don't get the Core Enchantments, you can still really enjoy the area by keeping camp at Snow or Colchuck Lakes. If you don't get one, show up at the Leavenworth Ranger Station at 7:45 AM Mon-Sat to see if you can get lucky and grab from the small daily lottery. If you still fail, it's probably worth waiting until after 9 AM, when they start handing out unclaimed reserved permits. Watch out for mice at your campsite. Get all your food bagged up and airtight. Hang it up in a tree if you want. They probably won't get into unopened Mountain House meals and I've seen heavy-duty Ziploc bags (fully airtight) cloak the smell of food so they didn't take interest. But they can and will chew through the material of your backpack to get to food that they can smell from the outside.

From Leavenworth, S on Icicle Creek Rd (FSR 7600) 8.5 miles. Left on FSR 7601 for 4 miles to Stuart Lake trailhead at end of road

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Reviews (983)
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Recordings (752)
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Meghan Saramak
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarOctober 20, 2020
HikingGreat!IcyRockySnow

10/19 430 am start from Stuart Lake TH. Finished at 550 pm via Snowy Lake TH. Couldn’t seem to land overnight camping permits so decided to hike it in a day. Blue skies despite forecasted cloudy. Strong winds and freezing temperatures up Aasgard Pass. No snow on the pass but sections of ice from spray off the waterfalls. Snow in the upper enchantment lakes, hard pack in some areas with post holes already made. Easy to follow the cairns but download the all trails map!!! Despite previous reviews from the week the lakes were not frozen over. Plenty of areas to fill up on water. Trail section above upper snowy lake was muddy in areas. Could get pretty dangerous in wet/ icy conditions with the slick rock/cliffs in this area. Saw plenty of mountain goats. Did not need to use our microspikes or gaiters. This ones a knee burner! Trekking poles helped! Plan your layers!

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Kimberly Perkins
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarGray StarGray StarOctober 20, 2020
RunningGreat!IcyOff trailScrambleSnow

Planned to trail run from Stuart Lake TH to Snow Lake TH in 6hours but it took 10 hours. Miles 5-11 are un-runnable. Asgard with 40 mph gusts was extremely challenging. But the real struggle was how many time we lost the trail after the pass. It’s really not a “trail” but an obstacle course made up of boulder hopping and snow sliding. Thank goodness for some piles of rocks to lead the way (and download the AllTrails map!). We made it through the snow with just trail running shoes. Recommend bringing layers, hat and poles for technical downhill. It’s beautiful up there! 10-19-2020

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nicole solana
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarOctober 18, 2020
HikingIcyMuddyOff trailRockyScrambleSnow

Overall: 10/17/2020- beautiful like usual. Easy to Colchuck from Stuart. Asgard was very tough with cold winds up to 35-40 mph. At the top it was amazing, but hard to enjoy bc the winds. Lots of snow/ice for most of the route until about mile 12. Then was pretty simple. Recommend poles for some of the downhill stuff. Ran/trotted about 40-50% of it. Time (with a few stops for pics): 11:35 Our goal was to run as much of it as we could. We expected 8-10 hours but had heard the winter came early. We took the loop connector from snow lakes to Stuart so you do not have to worry about two cars. The guy had warned us that a lot of people were canceling due to weather. It ended up being a beautiful day overall. The hike to Colchuck from Stewart was quick and pretty simple. But once we got to Asgard that was a whole different story. We kept getting lost and the winds were insane. It also got very cold. We both forgot our crampons (stupid) so slowed us down significant until about mile 12. Then the snow/ice disappeared. Easy hiking from there until the end with some steep downhills. Recommend: poles, spikes, lots of layers, gloves for the rocks, headlamp.

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Don Avery
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarGray StarGray StarGray StarGray StarOctober 18, 2020
Hiking
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Alan Johnson
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarOctober 18, 2020
HikingGreat!IcyRockyScrambleSnow

What an amazingly beautiful and adventurous trail! Trail report from 10/17/2020. First off, if you're through-hiking it, i can't think of any good reason to start from the Snow Lakes side. You'll have a predominantly uphill hike and be progressively more tired for the more amazing scenery. The peak season is dying down, but an early start got us a parking space. Our group met at 4 am at Snow Lakes TH to coordinate shuttle and the TH was already packed from people already on the trail or sleeping in the parking lot. We hit Stuart Lake TH at 4:30 am and got a parking spot just fine. (However, at the end, when we went to pick cars back up, cars were still parked up and down the street. The ranger said that you can park on the right side of the road only between 8-mile TH and Stuart Lake TH and everyone else gets ticketed.) With a 4:30 am start we made it to Colchuck Lake around 6:30/45, dawn-ish but before nice light was spilling onto the lake. We waited around for about 30 minutes or so, and while it got brighter we didn't start seeing actual sunlight on the surrounding peaks until we started up the pass. For us, the forecasted "blustery winds" were accurate heading up the pass. We all head to throw most of our layers on about half way up and then onto the pass. Up in the pass we saw decent amounts of snow. We had a group of 5 and i was the only one who used micro-spikes, but i thought they came in handy. Just be prepared to take them off and put them back on quite a few times. I didn't see anyone with an ice axe or any need for one. Although there was quite a bit of snow, the only think you had to really watch out for was occasionally post-holing and potentially tweaking something in the process. Route-finding in the snow was also interesting, as you were more likely to follow existing tracks in the snow which, we would later find out, weren't always the actual trail. Quite a few larches were still holding onto their needles, but judging by all the golden needles on the ground, plenty have already been shed and will continue to be shed. Our total trail distance was 23.12 miles, with a moving time of 12 hours and 10 minutes (hey, we stopped for LOTS of pictures!) and a total elapsed time of 13 hours and 40 minutes. We used NOAA for our weather checks beforehand. Search for Colchuck Lake and then use the map to also click in the core section to get the forecast at the higher elevation. Our forecast called for the HIGH to be 31. While the pass was indeed blustery and cold, once we got a bit off the pass it was actually very pleasant. I wore insulted pants and thermal bottoms and was way too warm (two crazy people in our group wore shorts and never complained). On the pass i had a thermal top, soft shell pullover, and micro puff. Once off the pass i ditched the micro puff. A bit later i ditched the pullover as well. Definitely still enough liquid water en route that you don't have to plan on carrying it all (although we all did). Again, super awesome trip! Absolutely loved it. Beautiful scenery and, in many places, just a fun, adventurous hike with challenging sections around every few turns. Great experience! (Also, don't forget you need Northwest Forest Pass, or America the Beautiful Parks pass, any of the Federal passes, NOT the WA Discovery Pass - you can pick up passes at Dan's Market at the start of town or the gas station at the end of town.)

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Christina Warden
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarGray StarGray StarOctober 17, 2020
BackpackingRockySnow

IF CAMPING IN THE CORE- beware of the winds! With 60-65mph winds our tents were thrashed around and pretty much laid flat on our faces throughout the night. Had to go out and secure the top with rope to the trees which thank god we set camp between. Talking to other backpackers their tents were rendered unusable after their night. We scraped by with one snapped poll. Very scary on some parts of aasgard with an overnight pack, dangerous trying to get over some of the bridges crossing rushing water through the core, and terrifying between leprechaun and viviane at the “rebar” part. That was hard with the snow and ice over the steep rocks. Grueling on the descent down from snow lake. Knees are sure to need ice after that. Overall, I’m happy to have survived. I can’t say I will be doing this ever again so late in the season. I will be happy to try this again in the summer with more time to space out the trip and take in all of the beauty. Details: Started at 6:15am 10/15/20 Ended at 6:45pm 10/16/20 Camped between perfection and leprechaun

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Don Avery
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarGray StarGray StarGray StarGray StarOctober 17, 2020
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Hannah Yerxa
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarOctober 17, 2020
Hiking

Beautiful trail! Some snow in the core enchantments, spikes, poles, and a map with GPS were all very helpful.

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Gaurav Jindal
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarOctober 17, 2020
HikingIcyOff trailRockyScrambleSnow

Caution : As of 10/17, There is a lot of ice / snow up there , and strong winds so if you are not prepared mentally and physically, and also with gears, you are putting yourself at risk. Also some of the lakes are frozen by now. Stay with your hiking buddy. My friend slipped into a creek / boulder, and i had to pull him out. My hike : 1. Me and other two friends parked at Snow TH and drove to Stuart TH in 1 car at 3 am on Sat morning. Finding parking was not difficult at this hour. 2. Started from Stuart TH at 4 am and reached Snow TH at 11 pm. A total of 19 hours. 3. Our speed was average. Kind of fast walking and no running. We took 10 ish 5-10 mins break overall. We used these to stretch, rest, eat and photograph. Route / Gear : It lives up to its name. The lakes were stunning and a few of them were frozen. It was very windy and icy at times. Items we actually used - crampons, wind jacket, extra layer for cold, gloves, face gaiters, good waterproof boots, snow gaiters, headlamp, hiking poles. You definitely want to carry the 10 essentials and also things like blister patches since 23 miles of the day hike will surely give you some hardship. In addition me and my buddies carried walkie talkie so we were always in touch since there is no phone network. We also carried Sat phones. Bear spray, knife also provided extra safety in the wilderness. Preparation: I am no trail runner and i never hiked before this summer in my entire life. I knew what i am putting myself through. From last three months , every Saturday, I picked a hard hike to gain stamina. Hikes like mailbox, sahale arm, blanca, mt. baldy etc. That really helped me build confidence. You should also know how to use your gear if you are new to hiking world. Eg, test your rain jacket in your neighborhood, try to use that water filter on an easy hike, read the fine instructions on emergency gear like snake bite kit etc.. Overall, a memorable experience. Thanks to everyone else who posted their experiences and helped shape mine.

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