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The Enchantments

The first comprehensive guide to The Enchantments... including photos, side trips, camps, even toilets!
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Rating: 5 out of 5 by EveryTrail members
Difficulty: Strenuous
Length: 18 miles
Duration: Multiple days

Overview :  This is THE backpacking destination in the state of Washington. Wander through soft tundra meadows, glacial-cirque lakes, crystal... more »

Tips:  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.

... more »

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Points of Interest

1. Snow Lake trailhead

A bit more than 2 hours from Seattle, drive Highway 2 toward Leavenworth, then just before reaching town, turn right (south) on Icicle Creek road. The trailhead will be on your left in 4 miles after turning. Elevation 1400'. Lock your car up here and make sure you have your keys! There is an outhouse here. If you're doing a thru-hike all the ... More

2. Icicle Creek crossing

Savor this flat moment right after the start, because you're about to hit some serious switchbacks going up the hill!

3. Switchbacks

Hang in there, you're about halfway through these switchbacks. You'll gain about 1300' in these first 1.5 miles. Enjoy views up the valley, unfortunately because trees in this area have been cleared by wildfires in 1994, 2001, and 2004.

4. Snow Creek Wall

There's a rocky 4100' point on this ridge across the valley called Snow Creek Wall. You might see rock climbers up there. You're at about 2600' right now and the trail kinda levels out a bit around here.

5. Snow Creek crossing #1

At about 4200' you cross Snow Creek here. If you came from the Snow Lake trailhead, this is a great place to stop and eat lunch, especially if it's hot. The forest is nice and cool here. However, Nada Lake is only another 700' from here, so if you still feel energized, push on.

6. Nada Lake

After walking flat for a bit, you'll come up on 4900' Nada Lake. Bugs can be bad here, but this is a great place to stop and eat. There are a few nice flat places along the shore that are marked "Day use only" that you can use to relax. Great views up toward The Temple. If you're heading up from the Snow Lake trailhead, this would be... More

7. Snow Lake drainage

The trail switches back once above Nada Lake and you might see the drainage spilling water out of Snow Lake above you. This drainage can be turned on and off remotely and is used to regulate the flow through Snow Creek and make sure the Leavenworth Fish Hatchery below gets a good supply of fresh water. It was put in place in the 1930's, well... More

8. Snow Lake

Welcome to Snow Lake! There are two lakes: Upper and Lower. This is an old stone dam/bridge between the Upper and Lower Snow Lakes. Be careful here, as the dam is crumbly in parts. There are a variety of campsites available all around you right now, some on the shores of the upper lake and some on the shores of the lower.

If you're trying to ... More

9. Snow Creek crossing #2

At the top end of Snow Lake, you'll cross Snow Creek just above where it empties into Snow Lake. The bridge can be sketchy if it's wet. It consists of three logs, so make sure you position your feet on the inside curve of the outer logs, so that they kind of slip toward the center log. This is a great place to grab some water if you need a... More

10. Lake Viviane

Lake Viviane, elevation 6800', is the lowest lake of the Lower Enchantments. It's a 1500' elevation gain from down at Snow Lake to this spot. Quite a trudge, but once you get up here, trust me, your energy will be renewed. There's an awesome little beach here right by the outlet which makes a great rest stop.

One of the major attractions of... More

11. Temple Lake (sidetrip)

Temple Lake, 6880', is just a short side trip from the main trail. It's got a great beach and some good swimming if it's a warm day. You have to walk around the west side to get to the beach because the east side is not very passable. There are some great rocks to jump off of along the eastern shore. Also the little knoll between Temple Lake... More

12. Rebar

There's one kinda tricky move in this spot but you'll do fine if you're careful. You have to walk across a big steep granite slab and there's some rebar drilled into the rock to assist you. If the rock is dry, you don't even really need it, but it's nice to know it's there. Over the years it seems like there are fewer and fewer pieces of rebar ... More

13. Leprechaun Lake

Leprechaun Lake (6880') has an interesting horseshoe shape to it, so you'll end up walking by two parts of it that might make it feel like two different lakes. This lake is less cliffy around the edges and more hilly. Pretty easy walking around here, but be careful walking on the rocks along one section because one wrong move and you'll get wet!

14. Waterfall

This waterfall is too good to be true. It looks like somebody's landscaping, doesn't it? Just above this waterfall is a beautiful meadow with water trickling through it.

One of the amazing things about the Enchantments is all of the water features that fall somewhere in between being categorized as a "lake" or a "stream." ... More

15. Sprite Lake

Sprite Lake is a tiny little lake that Perfection Lake (above) empties out into. There's a nice little waterfall between the two and if you aim your camera properly you can get a great shot of the waterfall with Little Annapurna in the background. The main trail continues around the right shore of Perfection Lake, but if you cross this waterfall... More

16. Perfection Lake

Perfection Lake (7000') is well-named. This is the classic view of Little Annapurna on the other side, its gradual slope on the right, steep rocky spires on the left. There's also an awesome just-out-of-reach waterfall right across the lake from this point, which is where Inspiration Lake (above) spills into Perfection Lake. The meadows on the ... More

17. Prusik Pass turnoff

Turn north here for a little side trip up to Prusik Pass. It's less than 1/2 mile and just under 500' of elevation gain to get up there. Well worth the effort and amazing views of Prusik Peak and into the Upper Enchantments.

18. Prusik Pass (sidetrip)

It's obvious once you get to the pass because you'll see Shield Lake below on the other side. But scramble up this hill a little ways to the east, toward Prusik Peak, and you'll top a small ridge with incredible views of the peak and into the Upper Enchantments. On a nice day you might see some climbers on Prusik Peak. Prusik Peak (8000') is... More

19. Inspiration Lake

You'll walk around Inspiration Lake (7200') to get to this spot, which kind of marks the boundary between the Upper and Lower Enchantments. But t's only about 400' of elevation gain, so no biggie. This area can have stretches of snow crossing even in late summer. As you climb up above Inspiration Lake in the rock and sand, say bye-bye to the... More

20. Crystal Lake view

You can look down on Crystal Lake (7000') from this overlook, nestled between McClellan Peak and Little Annapurna. Someday I'll go down there, probably via Perfection Lake. There's a small stand of trees just uphill from here that you'll pass through before emerging into one of my favorite meadows in the Enchantments.

21. Upper Enchantments and 'Swim Rock'

Our favorite spot in the Upper Enchantments. You've got huge cliffy peaks to the west, Little Annapurna to the south, an amazing selection of trickling streams and pools, small glaciers above you, probably some snow nearby, hopefully some sunshine...and, just across the stream to your right as you hike uphill, this perfectly smooth rock... More

22. Little Annapurna summit (sidetrip)

Just a 900' climb from the meadows below, Little Annapurna (8450') looks imposing from down at Perfection Lake, but here it is so very reachable. You can easily eyeball your route up this thing and it's a simple Class 2-3 scramble. Climb to the top and get great views of the entire Enchantments and the peaks of the Stuart Range to the west. The... More

23. 'Jiffy Pop' Beach / Isolation Lake

So named because we had a relaxing afternoon here one year throwing down on some Jiffy Pop. There is a small sandy beach that kind of sticks out into Isolation Lake (7700') that would make a great camp site. From here up, there is not really much more vegetation, so if you need shelter for camping, look around for big boulders. Not all... More

24. Aasgard Pass

You're standing at the top of Aasgard Pass. This is the very tip-top of the Upper Enchantments. You're either really tired from climbing up this thing or you're about to be really tired from climbing down. The pass (from the top down to Colchuck Lake) is 2200' in just over 1 mile! Talk about elevation gain. It is brutal, especially if you're... More

25. Colchuck Lake

This lake (5570') is the "other side" or the "back door" to the Enchantments. Sorry Snow, but Colchuck Lake has you beat as far as scenery and accessibility. Looking south, awesome views of the cliffy Dragontail Peak on the left and Colchuck Peak on the right. That's Aasgard Pass to the left of Dragontail Peak. It makes a... More

26. Mountaineer Creek (upper crossing)

You're crossing Mountaineer Creek at about 4500'. I see this point as the transition between the steeper portion of the trail (above you) and the more gradual (below you). If you're coming uphill, you've already walked about 2/3 of the distance to Colchuck Lake, but you still have half of the elevation gain left. It's another 1000' up to... More

27. Stuart Lake junction

The main trail, #1599, goes between the trailhead and Stewart Lake and the south turn, labeled #1599.1, goes up to Colchuck Lake and the Enchantments.

28. Mountaineer Creek (lower crossing)

You're crossing Mountaineer Creek at about 4000', the lower of two crossings of this creek. Right now you're about 1.5 miles from the Stuart/Colchuck Lake trailhead.

29. Stuart Lake/Colchuck Lake trailhead

This trailhead can get busy, so hopefully you locked up your things if you left a car here. Elevation 3400'. To get here, drive 8.5 miles on Icicle Road from Hwy 2, just on the west edge of Leavenworth. (Or 4.2 miles up Icicle Road from the Snow Creek trailhead). Then take a left on Forest Road 7601 and drive about 3.7 more miles to the... More

30. toilet

31. campsite

32. toilet

33. campsite

34. campsite

35. toilet

I actually used this one. Best view from a toilet that I've ever seen.

36. campsite

37. campsite

38. toilet

39. campsite

40. campsite

A little bit of bushwhacking required, but a nice beach spot if the water level is right and you want to get a head start on Aasgard Pass in the morning.

41. toilet

Great view from here. Breathtaking in more ways than one.

42. toilet