The Enchantments Trail

HARD 621 reviews

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.

Distance: 23.6 miles Elevation Gain: 5,003 feet Route Type: Point to Point

backpacking

camping

hiking

rock climbing

forest

lake

river

views

waterfall

wild flowers

wildlife

blowdown

rocky

scramble

snow

no dogs

NOTE: As of September 2019, there is a new no overflow parking. Be careful not to park in "NO PARKING" areas - there areas are subject to ticketing. 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.

hiking
blowdown
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rocky
scramble
snow
2 months ago

Went Stuart like trailhead to snow lake trailhead overnight nov 15-16. Extremely icy boulders and bridge At the upper crossing of mountaineer creek, almost made us turn back. I thought the rest of the trail would be icy but it wasn’t. Big relief. No ice on boulder field below Asgard! then no real ice until the top 1/3 of Asgard. Windy at the top, very cold. Camped at inspiration lake. Put crampons on at descent to inspiration lake, maybe could have used them up Asgard. Descent to inspiration was very icy, made worse by being windy. Crampons, not micro spikes. Black diamond’s contact strap crampons. The top of Asgard to just above snow lakes has about 6 inches of snow, with plenty of ice on the exposed granite. Took us about 12 hours to get from trailhead to inspiration. Broke camp at 9AM, put crampons on until 1 PM just above snow lake. Didn’t see any wildlife, did see cat tracks and goat tracks. Some down climbing was a challenge but crampons came through in a big way. Weather was nice in the lakes, snowed/rained a bit when we got to snow lakes. We were the only people we saw in the upper lakes. There were two day hikers to Colchuck lake, and one runner to snow lakes. The enchantment lakes are all frozen, so not the visual spectacle typical of late summer. Frozen but the edges are available for water filtering. Colchuck and snow lakes are partially frozen. The Stuart lake trailhead is not closed yet. No parking fees. There is a large section of trees down about two miles from snow lake trailhead. I have completed the enchantments day hike four times before, so route finding was ok. I would not attempt this trip without experience in the summer, as route finding in the winter was challenging. There was no boot pack, we followed cairns. I do appreciate that many cairns have a large stick protruding out of the top. This is sure to save a life or two.

hiking
2 months ago

I went backpacking with my partner for one night from Nov 1-2. We used the loop connector shuttle to shuttle us to the Stuart Trailhead at 6:00. Amazing service and they are so helpful - highly recommend! We started on the trail at 6:30 while it was still dark and it was easy to navigate with a headlamp since the beginning is fairly flat. We arrived at Colchuck lake a few hours later and were blown away by its beauty. We continued on to the rock scramble to get to the base of Aasgard Pass. This is where the rock piles began to help you navigate the trail. There is a gorgeous campsite on the beach by the base of Aasgard Pass. Now for the worst part of the trail - hiking up the Pass when it’s snow and ice covered and you’re a novice hiker. We were beyond grateful that we brought microspikes and that a runner suggested we put our poles away and scramble using all fours. The ice was SCARY and there was an accident on the ice that same day which didn’t help our fears. It took us nearly the whole day to get up the pass. Finally, we ended up camping at a pretty spot around Perfection and Inspiration lakes and heading to bed at 6:30. It wasn’t too cold or windy that night and we got up and back on the trail at 6:00 the next morning. We had to navigate around some super icy spots in the dark by rerouting from the trails a good bit for safety but it was doable. Getting from there to Snow lakes was also scary with steep cliffs and climbing down the rebar section. Once we got to Snow lakes, it was pretty easy to get to Nada Lake but after that there are some boulder fields that can require a lot of work if you’re carrying a heavy pack. The good part was that they weren’t icy or snowy. The rest of the trail back to snow lakes trailhead is miles and miles of steep declines and can tear your knees, ankles, and toes apart so trekking poles were a life saver. Overall, I would never do this home without someone with me as it is way too dangerous. However, it was super rewarding and I wish we could have seen more of the core enchantments in daylight. If you’re looking for an easy day hike - I highly recommend going to Colchuck from Stuart Trailhead. Snow Lakes would be extremely tiresome to get to and the lake isn’t as pretty. If you’re looking to camp and hang out at the core zone, it might be a good idea to come from Snow Lakes trailhead and camp out by nada or snow and then do day hikes into the core and return back the campsite. Two nights would probably have been a better idea if you’re really looking to relax and enjoy the scenery. Not many people on the trail while we were there - under 20 people total that we saw.

hiking
3 months ago

Absolutely magical. Lucked into a Snow Lake permit, stayed there as base camp for 3 nights. Hiked into the core zone every day, and was blown away by its beauty. The hike from snow to the core is pretty serious - lots of scrambling and climbing up steep rocks. It's only a few miles, but it's a strenuous few miles. We made it from snow to the end of the core and back down to snow in one day, but it was a tough one. Definitely worth it for some of the most unreal views I've ever seen, though. Sadly was very crowded each day with day hikers, but to be expected with such a beautiful trail. Will come back and try again for a core permit one day.

hiking
icy
rocky
scramble
snow
3 months ago

It was a BIG step up from Mount Si to The Enchantments, for me. It's a really hard endurance test for a novice hiker like me who hasn't done enough. It's one of the most beautiful places on Earth with great views of crystal clear lakes and golden larches (fall) at this time of the year. Please ensure that you're prepared with all the essentials for this one. It took us ~ 16 hours to complete it. We were really slow as compared to all them experienced hikers (who reminded me of elves), haha!

hiking
muddy
rocky
scramble
snow
3 months ago

We went from the Stuart entrance to Snow in a day. Took about 16 hrs. Awesome until Snow Lakes region. It was painful after that. Microspikes are a must. Took the Loop Connector shuttle which came promptly. I think the long day hike seems preferable to people backpacking and going back and forth. The trails are just too painful to repeat!

hiking
muddy
rocky
scramble
snow
3 months ago

We did the thru-hike on Friday 10/11/2019. What a hike! Absolutely worth the efforts! Don't get me wrong, it's hard and very hard to complete in one day, but it's doable. The weather was perfect on our hiking day. We started early at Stuart and Colchuck Lake trail head at 5:13 am with head lamp on and micro spikes in the bag. Within 3 hours 45 minutes, we've got the foot of Assgard Pass. It took us about 1 hour 45 minutes to climb up to the top with micro spikes on. Be careful as some area had a little ice and near the top the snow was a little high and soft. We kept on moving as we knew it was still a long trip ahead and stopped at around 12:40 pm on the northwest side of Perfection Lake for lunch. After replenishing with food and energy, we continued on the bank of Perfection Lake and Spirit Lake and took a lot of beautiful pictures of the golden larches and lakes. The larches are near peak time; yet in my opinion, some of them still have some room to turn yellow and this area is one of the most beautiful in the core zone. We met many groups in both ways during this time. Around 2 pm, we reached the Rebar area below Lake Viviane, no ice, it's doable. The rest of the 11 miles or so trip back to the Snow Lake trail head were all downhills with steep drops. Some were big rocks; some were with tree roots; and a lot were covered in thin ice so micro spikes were needed most of the time. The trail around Snow Lake was more flat and then starting around Nada lake, there were two areas of rocky stones trail that would be best to pass before it got dark. The next few hours we spent time in darkness with head lamp on again. After a lot of switchbacks, we finally reached the Snow Lake trail head around 9:45 pm. In total, the recording showed 22 miles in around 16 hours and 30 minutes. If you'd need to wait for your hiking buddies to drive cars over from the other trail head, please do remember to prepare yourself with extra layers of clothes. It was really really cold in the mountain night. I am glad that we did it before the weather gets even colder. A near perfect hiking experience!

hiking
icy
snow
3 months ago

Did the thru hike from Stuart to Snow Lake using the Loop Connector shuttle (recommended). About 9.5 hrs total time with lots of photo stops. Jogged the final 6ish miles down to the Snow Lake TH. In terms of conditions, much of the hike has at least some snow/ice. Only the last 4ish miles to Snow Lake was completely snow free. That being said, I had nano spikes and only wore them up Asgard and briefly in the upper core. I wasn't carrying much weight so traction wasn't a big issue (and I just found my trail runners to be more comfortable without the spikes) but if you're overnighting or carrying a lot of weight, spikes of some sort are going to be necessary. I would say time is certainly running out to complete this unless you're a dedicated (and fit) winter hiker. One, maybe two, more winter systems are going to make this a tough one. As everyone has already stated though, it's a stunning trip and worth the sore feet and tired legs. Oh, my GPS clocked it in at just over 22 miles.

hiking
icy
rocky
scramble
snow
3 months ago

Through hiked Colchuck to Snow. About 12 hours moving time, 14:45 total with the breaks and pictures at the Core Region. Up Asgard in about 1:40 with 2 breaks and we were being passed. That was a good pace that was not hard if you are conditioned for any type of mountain climbing. Microspike should be used on Asgaard and we wore ours through the core region all the way to after snow lake when it got rocky on the descent. Definitely a long day! Next time we'll likely chance a Asgard descent instead. We were lucky to park at snow and hitch a ride to Colchuck with a couple other thru hikers in the am. (Thanks!). But it is incredible up there this time of year with the larches. Totally worth it. Left Seattle at 2:30am, on the trail 5:45am. Back at parking lot 8:30pm. Obviously needed headlamps on both ends.

hiking
rocky
snow
3 months ago

Unbelievable hike!! Truly beautiful everywhere you look. I highly recommend to anyone conditioned and driven enough to do it. Definitely a bucket list hike.

hiking
rocky
snow
3 months ago

Took our 8 month old up this trail so went at a pretty slow pace. Left from Stuart Lake trailhead at around 9:15am and made it to Colchuck Lake around 1pm. Had crampoms which came in handy as it was pretty icy. I am sad we didn't get to Asgard pass and the enchantments because we had to turn back to get to our car before dark. Lake Colchuck was nice but I'm sure not nearly as nice as the lakes past Asgard. Recommend leaving reaaaally early like at the trailhead by 4am if you move at a slow pace to even attempt Asgard pass.

hiking
muddy
off trail
rocky
scramble
snow
3 months ago

Extremely beautiful and incredible view. Took us 11 hours moving time and about 12 hours total. Start with snow climbing with micro spikes, lingers too long on the lake areas, then scrambling to descend. The final 9 miles was a trail running for us. Started around 7 and and finished about 6:30. Lots of snow but really nice weather and clear sky, not feeling too cold. A base layer, a soft shell is good.

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