Key information: The Enchantments
- Perfect lakes in a stunning alpine setting – jagged peaks and larch forest – in Washington State.
- Varied walks. Can be very difficult to get permits.
- Walkopedia rating83.5
- Natural interest15.5
- Human interest2
- Negative points0
- Total rating83.5
- Length: Up to 32km across
- Maximum Altitude: 2,400m
- Level of Difficulty: Strenuous
This walk description page is at an early stage of development, and will be expanded over time. Your comments on this walk, your experiences and tips, and your photos are very welcome.
The Enchantments are perfect lakes in a stunning alpine setting: a harshly beautiful high (2,400m at its head) long, broad valley within the Stuart Range, a sub-range of the Cascades, in the Alpine Lakes Wilderness southwest of Leavenworth, Washington. It comprises rocky upper and lower basins sprinkled with lakes, tarns and thin larch forest and is surrounded by jagged peaks. It even has the remains of a glacier (Snow Creek Glacier).
This is gorgeous wilderness, but it was not always thus; its now-good state is due to the need to walk in and to have permits (see below).
There are two main approaches to the main Enchantments Basin, both accessed from Icicle Creek Road. The two routes should be combined to form a loop (said to be 19 miles (31km)) if you have transport between the trail heads. Both are steep and demanding and involve a lot of ascent/descent. Other walks include the 5 day Enchantment Traverse and nearby 4 day Icicle Ridge.
It is normal to spend at least one night in the area, indeed it would be a tough option to walk in and out in one day.
The Snow Lake trail from the east climbs 10.5 km to Snow Lake, gaining 1,200 m. From Snow Lake it climbs over sloping granite rock to the Lower Enchantments Lake. This route is 14 km one-way, with 1,800m of elevation gain. It is then a long walk up the Enchantment valley.
The Stuart Lake trail from the west begins a couple of miles up Eight Mile road off Icicle Creek Road. The trail up to Colchuck Lake is 7.64 km and gains 640 m; another 2.82km brings hikers to the south end of the lake and the Aasgard Pass (7,800ft, 2,377m), which climbs 670 m in 1.3 km. Aasgard Pass is a steep scramble which is dangerous to descend in snow.
There are 5 zones in the Enchantments for permit purposes. (Further areas may be/have been added.) A maximum of 60 people at one time are allowed into the Core Enchantment Zone, so it can be very difficult to get permits. See here for more detail on permits.
A limited walking window – late July to early October – Sept/October for larch colours.
This is demanding walking in remote mountains with uncertain weather - conditions can be difficult. Beware bears. Come fully prepared.
Find relevant books on Amazon. Helpful info here: https://www.rei.com/blog/hike/alpine-lakes-wilderness-enchantments
This page is at an early stage of development. Please help us by recommending your best walks/making suggestions and sending photos! Thank you!
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Your comments on this walk, your experiences and suggestions, and your photos are very welcome. Where appropriate, you will be credited for your contribution.
Safety and problems: All walks have inherent risks and potential problems, and many of the walks featured on this website involve significant risks, dangers and problems. Problems of any sort can arise on any walk. This website does not purport to identify any (or all) actual or potential risks, dangers and problems that may relate to any particular walk.
Any person who is considering undertaking this walk should do careful research and make their own assessment of the risks, dangers and possible problems involved. They should also go to “Important information” for further important information.
Anyone planning an expedition to this place should see further important information about this walk.
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