Sep 25, 2010
- Type of Outing
- Day hike
- Read More in our Hiking Guide
- Hike: Enchantment Lakes
- Region: Central Cascades -- Leavenworth Area
- Agency: Wenatchee National Forest, Wenatchee River Ranger District
- Trails: Enchantment Lakes (#1553)
- Avg Rating: 4.46
- Why You Should Go Now
- Fall foliage
- Be Aware Of
- Snow on trail
Through-hike/trail run, from Stuart Lake Trailhead to Snow Creek Trailhead
18 miles 4,500 up 6,000 down
Just under 10hrs on the trail.
The documentary-length video:
Backpacker magazine rates this hike #8 of the top 10 toughest day hikes in America. Being three fathers of young children with free time at a premium, David, Jason and I set out to squeeze as much adventure and awe factor that we could out of the day.
We chose to leave one car at the Snow Creek trailhead and bivy by the Stuart Lake trailhead Friday night so we had a short drive and could easily get an early start on the day.
Got on the trail at a quarter after 6, promptly turned around when I realized I had forgotten to pack the water purification drops. Hiked at a moderate/fast pace enjoying having light packs on. We caught a peak of Mount Stuart in the sunrise as we ascended to Colechuck Lake. Still in the shadow of the morning sun we ascended from Colechuck lake to Aasgard pass in 1:30-1:45 from the lake at a moderate pace (it’s not that bad).
Our initial plan was to start running as soon as we were “warmed up” from the hike up through Aasgard pass. Once we crested the top to look in to the Enchantments we realized the flaw in that plan. It is so beautiful up there, why rush it? We ended up jogging in places; otherwise we spent time marveling at the continuously changing breathtaking vistas of rock walls, changing larch, and pristine mountain lakes. The map came out from time-to-time in an attempt to keep track of the names of the lakes that we were passing by.
After refilling water at the base of lake Vivian beneath Prussik peak we began the decent to Snow Lake. The section from this pass to the lake was slow due to tricky footing and a rough trail. We were able to start jogging around the lake and ended up getting off route by some campsites on the other side of the logjam. It ended up being an interesting detour, as we encountered a family of mountain goats half-submerged in a marshy spot in the lake. They were apparently cooling down and grazing on plant life. After a chilly wade through the lake we were back on track and headed down to Nada Lake. The trail is fairly rocky the rest of the way out but we were able to run longer sections as we got back down to the Snow Creek Trailhead.
We could have picked one of the best weather days this fall (or this summer to be exact) to hike/run the Enchantments traverse. It turned out to be cool in the morning (tights) warming to mid 50’s in the upper Enchantments by early afternoon and t-shirt weather on the way down to Snow creek. I packed my running shoes and down parka in the pack, which I didn’t end up needing (the Five fingers worked great).
A spectacular day trip and a highly recommended way to see the entire Enchantments stretch without requiring a hard to get overnight permit.