The Enchantment Lakes is a high alpine basin full of lakes, larch, mountain goats, and fantastically stark granite that is considered by many to be the best hike in the state. Options abound - plenty of places to camp, side trails, summits, and more ensure that you will be wishing you had marked a few extra days on your backpacking permit!
The first thing you need to know about the Enchantments is that you will need a permit if you plan to camp overnight anywhere in the area (you do not need a permit for a day hike beyond the self-issue permit at the trailhead). Failure to have a permit will result in you being fined and asked to leave by the rangers. These permits are given out by lottery each year by the Leavenworth Ranger Station, and the success rate for Enchantment zone permits is around 50%. Check with the ranger station to see when the permit drawings start - if you want an Enchantment zone permit, you need to make sure you have your application in before the start of the drawings. If you like taking your chances, 25% of the permits are given out day-of in an on-site lottery at the Leavenworth Ranger station. Again, check with the ranger station for details.
Generally-speaking, there are two ways to approach this area. The traditional way is to approach from the Snow Lakes trailhead about 4 miles outside of Leavenworth on Icicle Creek road (trail 1553). From the trailhead, you have roughly 10 miles and 6000 feet of elevation gain before you reach the bottom of the Enchantments. This way in is often described as grueling and long, which is fairly apt. The other way that many people approach the basin is from the Stuart Lake trailhead another 9 or so miles beyond the Snow Lakes trailhead (trails 1599 and 1599.1). From this trailhead, you're looking at around 6 miles and about 4400 feet of gain to the top of the basin, but don't be fooled - 2300 of that 4400 feet is gained in a single mile up Aasgard Pass. This route is often described as a level above the Snow Creek route, but many people actually prefer this way in.
In planning your approach to the Enchantments, you need to make two key decisions. First, are you going to do a car shuttle? Many people take two cars, drop one off at one trailhead, and drive to the second trailhead. The hike then becomes a one-way. The second decision you need to make is which trailhead to start from (and finish at if you don't do a car shuttle). Which direction to go is largely dependent on the type of pain you want to endure. If you don't mind doing an insanely steep section in return for a shorter approach, choose Aasgard Pass via Colchuck Lake. If you don't mind a really long approach in return for a gentler gain, choose the Snow Creek approach.
Assuming a one-way (car shuttle) and starting from the Lake Stuart trailhead, park at the insanely busy trailhead and take trail 1599.1. This part of the trail passes through a nice stand of timber along Mountaineer Creek. About two miles in is a foot bridge that provides a great spot to take photos. At 2.5 miles, you'll reach a junction with trail 1599.1 to Colchuck Lake. Head left over the foot bridge and take an immediate right after the bridge to head towards the lake.
Follow the trail past the boulder field and enter the forest again. The way climbs steadily through the timber up to the lake basin, with nice views of the surrounding mountains and the drainage that holds Mountaineer Creek and Lake Stuart. After 1.6 miles, you'll reach the lake. Colchuck Lake is a great spot to camp for those backpacking. There is a great campsite across from the path to the toilet (about 1/4 mile from where you first see the lake), and a few more past that.
To reach Aasgard Pass, follow the trail around the lake for 1.1 miles. The way passes a small inlet as well as a small tarn to the right of the trail, works its way through a boggy area, and eventually deposits you at a rock slide at the base of Colchuck Peak. To continue, head left around the lake and through the boulder field. Cairns mark the way, but use caution as many of the boulders are exposed and falls will not be very pleasant. Midway through the boulder field is a patch of brush you must pass through (the trail is well-marked), followed by a smaller boulder field, and then another bit of brush, where you will quickly reach the base of Aasgard Pass.
From the bottom of Aasgard Pass, the route works its way up and to the left. Cairns mark the route, although in some places you may have difficulty spotting them. The route passes to the left of the rock formation you can see about halfway up, skirting the brush that will be on your left. Once you reach the rock formation, the route hugs the left wall and climbs ever further up. Clear of the formation, the way moves back towards center slightly and then up again, until you reach a waterfall, at which point the route passes underneath the falls. After refilling your water bottle and dunking your head under the falls, the route cuts side-hill to the right. Use caution in this section as the route is not well marked and there are few cairns. The way eventually works its way up and almost all the way to the right of the pass below Dragontail Peak, where you'll emerge into the upper Enchantment Basin. Routefinding in this section can be difficult at times; if you lose the cairns, just be sure to follow this general route description and you'll be fine.
Once in the upper basin, take a moment to rest and recharge, and be sure to turn around and look across Colchuck Lake to a view of Mt. Baker in the distance. When you're ready, head left around the tarn up a small ridge (cairns mark the way). The path will take you cruelly up a hundred or so feet and will eventually deposit you above Tranquil Lake. Tranquil Lake is a great spot to refill water, and there are excellent campsites on both the near and far end of the lake. Below you, Isolation Lake also has a few campsites nearby; some of the best overlook the lake next to the rocks at nearly the same elevation as Tranquil Lake.
From Tranquil Lake, descend along the left side of Isolation Lake and follow the cairns through the notch. The way then descends across a bit of slab granite and down to the lakes below. Snow is sometimes present in this section of the trail, so use caution. Once in this area, you'll be treated to a view of some of the well-known peaks in the basin - Prusik Peak, The Temple, McClellan Peak, and Little Annapurna are all visible. If you fancy a side-trip, the scramble up Little Annapurna is an excellent choice and can be done easily by following the bedrock on your right up to the summit. Stay left on the way up, but not too far left as it quickly turns into a cliff!
Moving down the basin, you'll encounter your first larch trees as well as views of Crystal Lake to your right and Inspiration Lake below to your left. From the overlook to Crystal Lake on the right side of the trail, the way goes left towards Inspiration Lake. There are a few spots on the descent to the lake that can be tricky, in particular when snow is present, so be careful. After reaching the lake basin, the main trail heads left around the small knoll, and will turn right down a small boulder field towards Perfection Lake. Inspiration Lake has several good campsites available in the basin, or you can continue to Perfection Lake below for other options.
After descending to the Perfection Lake basin, you'll encounter another trail junction, this time heading up to Prusik Pass. From this junction, you are approximately 10 miles from the Snow Creek trailhead. For the rest of the Enchantments, keep straight/right and head around Perfection Lake. About 1/4 mile past this junction you'll see the trail split; keep left to follow the main trail (the right fork dies in a few hundred feet but is a nice picnic spot). The trail goes for a few hundred feet, then turns left and will take you past Sprite Lake.
At Sprite Lake, continue your descent until you reach the slab granite. Cairns mark the way down this granite formation, and will lead you to the trail on the far side of the small basin. You'll pass Leprechaun Lake on your right. The trail crosses a creek and heads left across a small knob above Lake Viviane. This section of the trail offers classic views of Prusik Peak looming large above the lake.
As you follow the trail around the knob, you'll come to an exposed section of granite with a pretty steep drop off. The trail is marked by rebar steps hammered into the rock and roughly works itself right and then cuts back sharply to the left. Use extreme caution in this section, especially with heavy packs or in poor weather conditions. After descending the slabs, continue on the trail until you cross the creek and reach a few obvious campsites. This is the last of the Enchantment Lakes before your descent.
To descend, first make sure you've already crossed the creek and follow the path around the hill to the left. Pay careful attention to the cairns and rebar steps hammered into the rock. Again, use extreme caution with heavy packs and/or poor weather as several sections are very exposed. After about 1/4 mile, you'll arrive at a gulley with a cairn visible at the bottom. Don't go directly down the gulley; keep heading straight and up on the small hill in front of you you'll see the rest of the cairns. Follow the cairns down below the bottom of the gulley and you'll see the trail widen, which you can then follow all the way down to the bottom of the drainage. When you reach the bottom, you'll see a foot log that crosses the creek. Cross it to continue and turn left to head towards Upper Snow Lake.
The trail winds around Upper Snow Lake, passing many excellent campsites and several backcountry toilets. From the foot bridge, it's about 1.5 miles to the small dam that separates upper and lower Snow Lakes. Much of the time the dam is dry and exposed and you can simply walk across. However, if the water is high, the dam may be underwater, so exercise caution crossing especially if the downed trees are floating on the water!
From the dam, it is 6.5 miles to the Snow Creek trailhead. The trail ascends slightly and then turns to drop into the drainage below the lakes. Cross the boulder field and you'll arrive at Nada Lake in about 1.5 miles. Later in the summer and in the fall you'll see the water pouring out of Lower Snow Lake - this water flow is controlled by the folks at the salmon hatchery and is used to regulate the water level in Snow Creek. At Nada Lake, there are several good campsites, although in the summer Nada Lake is well known for being infested with bugs, so if you plan to camp there, bring bug spray.
The trail works its way left around Nada Lake and descends to the valley below. You'll pass through some beautiful timber and eventually reach a bridge over the creek. From here, follow the trail down through a series of switchbacks and work your way down the canyon. About two miles from the trailhead you'll see the Snow Creek Wall on your left, and if you're lucky, some climbers working its many routes.
From here, you're about 1.5 miles from the trailhead or so, and you should be able to see it soon, which is pretty agonizing as you are still at least 30 minutes away! The trail works its way to the far right and then switchbacks down the ridge until you reach the bottom by the creek. When you reach the bottom, you'll cross a small bridge over an irrigation canal. Continue straight for a few hundred feet to reach the big bridge over Icicle Creek. Cross the bridge, turn left, and ascend about 50 feet to reach the parking lot and the end of your awesome hike!
Many people prefer visiting the Enchantments in the fall, when the larch trees turn yellow and create a very unique scene in the basin. Getting a permit can be tough for this or many other times of the year, so there is also the option to day hike the basin. No permit (other than the self-issue permits at the trailhead) is required for the day hike, known as the Enchantment Traverse or the Death March, but the day hike is extremely long and grueling. Still, it's one of the easiest ways to ensure you see the larch turn.
If you go, you should be aware of several things. First, practice good Leave No Trace principles - this area is very beautiful but also very fragile, and we need to exercise extra special care here so everyone can enjoy it. In particular, please urinate on the rocks or in a backcountry toilet. Mountain goats crave salt, and will paw up vegetation to get at the salt in your urine. Second, be aware of your abilities and don't attempt this if you aren't a strong hiker/backpacker. Not only will you not enjoy yourself, you could put yourself in danger. Finally, don't forget to enjoy yourself! If you haven't been before, a backpack trip is strongly recommended so you have some time to stop and take it all in!
From Seattle, take US2 east towards Wenatchee. Upon reaching Leavenworth, turn right onto Icicle Creek Road. At about 4 miles, the Snow Creek Trailhead is on your left. For the Stuart Lake Trailhead, continue another 4 miles or so and turn left on road 7601 (about a mile past the Eightmile Campground). After the turn, stay straight (left is the Bridge Creek Campground) and follow the road to the trailhead. The first trailhead you will encounter is the Eightmile Trailhead; this is NOT the one you want. Keep going over the bridge and another mile or so to the end of the road and the Lake Stuart Trailhead.
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Enchantment Lakes — Oct 12, 2008 — GaliWalker
Issues: Snow on trail
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Oct 12th, 2008: Enchantments I have always maintained that the Enchantments region is the Rolls R...
Oct 12th, 2008: Enchantments
I have always maintained that the Enchantments region is the Rolls Royce of Washington hiking. This Sunday, the ‘Chants put on a show the likes of which I have never seen on previous visits.
The weather had been cold and heavy snow had recently fallen in the mountains, so I was a bit concerned on the state of conditions at 7000ft+. Thankfully the day was forecasted to be nice and sunny, so with that in my mind I set off from the trailhead in the early morning hours (5:45am), hiking by headlamp. About a half-hour into the hike a hissing sound rose up around me – it took me a moment to realize that light rain was pattering on the shrubbery surrounding me. So much for the forecast!
Thankfully the rain soon let up and it was back to happy thoughts as I reached Colchuck Lake about 2 hrs into the hike. A quick look at Aasgard Pass showed it snow-free, so my happy thoughts became just that little bit happier.
As usual, the route around the lake and to the base of the Aasgard Pass climb took seemingly forever. Unfortunately, as I reached the start of the climb I was treated to the icy sight of a completely frozen stream. Searching for an appropriate crossing point took a bit of doing, but I was soon safely across and on my way up. The climb went well until the second crossing of the stream about 2/3rds of the way up. After that various icy sections had to be navigated (a couple in really bad spots) so I took my time to ensure no mishaps.
10:00am and I was up top in overcast conditions. I could see a bit of blue appearing to the east, so I held fast to my happy thoughts. I made a beeline for Lake Freya, only to see it frozen over. This was a disappointment, until I took a closer look and started to see lots of photographic potential. It was heaven from that point onward, as lake after lake unfolded a strangely beautiful side that I had not seen before.
I took my time, especially in the Upper Enchantments. However, as the hours ticked away, I began to realize that I needed to make slightly quicker progress. In all it took me 4hrs to get to Lake Viviane, at the far end of the Enchantments region, my turn-around point. The way back to Aasgard Pass took a further 2hrs, but the sun was out and if I hadn’t been concerned about descending Aasgard Pass (as well as navigating Colchuck Lake’s shores) in darkness, I would have lingered even more.
The way down was uneventful, with only the final hour of hiking requiring a headlamp.
Additional photos: http://www.flickr.com/[…]/72157608000376135
- Elevation gain: 6,400ft
- Distance: 18mi
- Hiking time: 14.25hrs
- Total trip time: 20hrs
Enchantment Lakes, Lake Stuart, Colchuck Lake, Snow Lake — Sep 28, 2008 — Jack Nichols
Features: Fall foliage
Issues: Snow on trail
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The Enchantments Traverse (aka the Death March) is a day hike over the complete 18 mile trail from t...
The Enchantments Traverse (aka the Death March) is a day hike over the complete 18 mile trail from the Stuart Lake Trailhead to the Snow Lake Trailhead (or the reverse). Our route was from Colchuck to Snow, which from what I gather is the more popular way to do this as a day hike.
Our group left Seattle at 4:30am and arrived at the Stuart Lake trailhead shortly before 7. We were on the trail by 7:15 and crested the top of Aasgard Pass at about 11:45am. Aasgard Pass took us about 1.5 hours, the rest of the time was on approach and taking some pictures at Colchuck Lake. A party that isn't quite as strong should budget at least two hours for the ascent up Aasgard Pass, more if it's your first time up.
The trail up to the top of Aasgard is in great shape. No problems to report, although you will need to sometimes stop and spot the cairns on the way up Aasgard, as some of them were tough to see. Generally speaking, the route cuts from right to left above the brush at the bottom of the pass, and to the left past the rock outcropping about halfway up. It then ascends up the left side to just below the summit and cuts across to the right and up. I'd definitely recommend sticking to the route.
Once at the top of Aasgard, we were greeted to the upper basin and its moon-like appearance. Tranquil and Isolation Lakes are pretty much completely thawed and there is no snow on the trail in the upper basin. When you reach the top of Aasgard, follow the cairns along the small ridge to your left (to the left of the tarn) to reach the main path. Tranquil Lake is a great spot to stop and refill your water, or have lunch, which is what we did.
From Tranquil we descended into what I like to call the "middle" basin - the above Inspiration Lake but below Isolation lake. Here is where you'll see your first larch trees - they are just starting to turn various stages of yellow and are quite stunning. If your camera isn't already out of your bag, it will be now as you'll see lots of great photo opportunities from here until you start your descent to the Snow Lakes.
The lakes in the lower basin are beautiful as always, and the larch starting to turn make the scene even more dramatic. The shores of Inspiration, Perfection, and Viviane all have very nice stands of larch along their shores (that the trail runs right by). Our party opted to head to the top of Prusik Pass to check out the view, which I definitely recommend. Beautiful lakes on the other side, and Prusik Peak itself looms close. My favorite is still Perfection Lake, and I got some amazing shots of the lake, Little Annapurna, and the sun reflecting off the lake.
The trail is great through the basin. There's only one small snow field you must cross after you descend from the uppermost basin. Use caution here as the water on the left side is a bit deeper than it looks and we had a member of our party punch through and dunk his foot. Otherwise, use caution along the exposed sections above Inspiration and Viviane. These are snow-free at the moment but you are still pretty exposed in sections. As well, caution must be exercised as usual on the section with the rebar right before you drop to Viviane, in particular if you are toting a heavy pack.
We left Viviane at around 4:30pm and were crossing the dam between upper and lower Snow Lakes at around 6pm. From there, the map claims you have 6.5 miles to go, but it feels a lot longer than that. We had to don headlamps at around 7pm, a bit after we passed Nada Lake. If you can, reaching Nada Lake before dark is a good move just because of the rock slide you have to cross between Lower Snow and Nada, but in the dark it wouldn't be terribly difficult. The hike out on the dark from Nada was pretty uneventful, and the trail is in great shape and is easy to follow. We reached the car shortly before 10pm, shuttled up to the Stuart trailhead to pick up the other car, and were on the road by 10:30, back in Seattle about 12:30am.
Overall, this is an excellent hike for a strong party that is comfortable with the very long distance, high altitude, and large elevation changes that this hike poses. That said, this is NOT a hike for beginners or casual hikers. You need to be in very good shape and be very familiar and comfortable with your equipment. Pack for a light and fast trip and you'll do well.
Logistically, you need two cars to set up a car shuttle - leave one at Snow and drive to Stuart. As well, with such a long hike, you definitely will want to set a schedule to ensure you are moving along at appropriate times. We set a schedule of being at the top of Aasgard Pass no later than noon and crossing the dam no later than 7 to ensure both adequate time in the Enchantments as well as that we wouldn't be descending too late in the day. In addition to all of that, be sure every member of your party is carrying a good headlamp with full batteries - you will very likely be hiking in and/or out in the dark, and it gets dark quickly in those canyons.
Finally, with respect to timing, the larch are very close to being all yellow. I'd guess that this coming weekend (October 4/5) and the next weekend will be prime-time, so if you can make it, definitely do it, and then post the pictures here for all of us to enjoy! :)
Enchantment Lakes — Sep 26, 2008 — Dave
Features: Fall foliage
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Oversleeping; a $125 fine? Dave and Breanne’s trip to the Enchantments. My girlfriend, Breanne...
Oversleeping; a $125 fine? Dave and Breanne’s trip to the Enchantments.
My girlfriend, Breanne, and I hiked the Enchantments last weekend. This was our first trip in the area and we were overwhelmed by the beauty. We had permits for Colchuck and Snow Lakes, and our plan was to spend one night at Colchuck, pass through the Enchantments lakes during the day and spend our second night at Snow Lakes.
A later than desired start up Aasgard Pass combined with over estimating our abilities/underestimating Aasgurd Pass, resulted in reaching the ridge much later than anticipated. Still, we had a permit to camp at Snow Lakes so we continued through.
With the ever shortening hours of daylight, we reached the top of “The Wall” and the treacherous descent from the Enchantment zone just after 6:00 pm (estimated ½ hr of light remaining). After discussing our options with hikers that had ascended from Snow Lakes, it became abundantly clear that our best course of action was to leave the descent for the morning; no point in risking our lives to abide by a permit. We quickly found an established camp site next to Lake Vivian and enjoyed our last night.
Soon after breaking camp and beginning our descent we came across a pair of park rangers. We presented our permit and explained our dilemma of the night before. The ranger was not compassionate and promptly began issuing a $125 fine. We pleaded our case again but to no avail.
We asked the ranger, “if we had experienced an accident during the night time descent requiring a helicopter rescue, what would that cost us?” His response, “rescues come out of tax-payers funds, you wouldn’t have to pay anything.” We were speachless. We were being penalized for making a decision that could have saved our lives and prevented an intensive rescue. Since when were rules put in place to jeopardize life, not save it? Isn’t the preservation of human life the highest goal?
I am completely confident that we made the best decision. If I am ever in a situation again where unacceptable risks must be taken to abide by a permit, I know I will choose to preserve my life and the lives of my companions despite the threat of fines.
Fortunately, the views were even more stunning than our encounter with law and we had an incredible trip!
Lake Stuart, Colchuck Lake, Snow Lakes, Enchantment Lakes — Sep 03, 2008 — Mike
Features: Wildflowers blooming | Ripe berries
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This hike was a 4 day and 3 night which requires a pass from the Leavenworth Ranger Station. The E...
This hike was a 4 day and 3 night which requires a pass from the Leavenworth Ranger Station. The Enchantments area is one of the most spectacular hikes in Washington and fills up quickly. I applied for my permit in February by mailing in my request. They only allow 60 people overnight on the trail in a given day. I had to request these dates because my brother was flying out from Ohio to do the hike with me. Once I was approved, my brother made his reservations.
The greatest wife in the world, who happens to be mine dropped my brother and I off 4 1/2 miles up the forest road at Stuart Lake Trail Head. Weather was cool so I used layered clothing to start off. Trail starts off relatively easy and follows a strong running creek so there is no problem getting water. Actually there is no problem getting water anywhere on this 19 to 20 mile trail. The first 2.5 miles was in the trees with a gradual climb from 3400' to 4500' at which time we saw the Colchuck Lake Trail heading off to the left.
Going straight leads to Lake Stuart which is a magnificant lake that I hiked several years ago. This part of the trail climbs from 4500' to 5600' in a short 1.6 mile. Fantastic views along the way. We encounterd our first Ptarmigian (which is a bird) on the trail so we snap a few pictures before it disappeared. On several occasions we stopped for pictures and when I dropped my pack the Chipmunks were all over it. They were amusing so we took pictures of them.
We finally crested the top of this portion of the trail at Colchuck Lake with a magnificant view of a very blue and prestine lake. We stopped to take lots of pictures which is always the case nowadays with digital cameras. We quickly found new friends with several new Chipmunks. We also got our first glimpse of the monsterous hill called "Aasgard Pass" that we would have to climb tomorrow morning. We decided to move all the way around the lake to the other side next to the bottom of the hill to get an early morning start up this section which is a 2300' climb in .7 of a mile.
Weather was magnificant the first day. Only reached about 70 degrees at the hottest part of the day. We set up camp for the night and watched the sunset from atop of a gigantic boulder. I would suggest that you always have something to entertain yourself with because when your not in a rush you have a lot of time on your hand. I took hundreds of pictures.
We woke up the next morning at 5:00 am and packed our bags to leave by 5:30 am. We planned this because we wanted to reach the top before the sun came over and started beating down on us. But there is a lesson to be learned from our experience at least my own experience and that is to take time to eat breakfast so as to get some energy in your body because the 2300' ascend will test you.
The trail from here on is marked by tairns or what is referred to as stacks of rocks showing you the way. They become very helpful as the granite rocks on top do not leave much trace of a trail. This hill tried my patience and my brother was the motivator to get me to the top. I do not consider this climb to be that dangerous just steep. There were plenty of big boulders to rest on but be sure to drink lots of water. Easy access to water and snacks on the way up for energy is important especially if you skip breakfast.
There were times when I wondered if this hill would ever end but it did and the feeling of relief was fantastic. This is where I have to admit I became sick from lack of food and water. A stupid mistake for someone who hikes a lot but a lesson for me and others. Always take the time to eat in the morning before a strenuous hike. As for the view, it was magnificant. We could see the Colchuck Glacier and several others. There were numerous lakes on the top and one of the reasons I picked this trail. There would be a lot more lakes to see over the next 13.5 miles that we descended down hill.
It took me about 3 hours to climb Aasgard Pass and 3 more hours to recover from dehydration and lack of fuel but it was important to keep walking around to prevent cramps from setting in. I took off my pack and walked back and forth snacking and drinking water with electrolytes. So as to not ruin this trip for my brother. I told him to go ahead and hike up to some of the high points with minimal equipment as I rested from my climb. He got some spectacular pictures from Little Annapurna and the mountain above Tranquil Lake.
I relaxed and took pictures of the Mountain Goats and the lakes that were strung across the top of this alpine area. When my brother returned I felt good enough to head on down the trail. As I wrote earlier, the trail is not well defined because you are walking across a lot of granite rock so follow the stacked rocks, they will show you the way. You will not get lost if you follow the rocks!! so don't let this stop you from going.
We crossed several small snow fields. No need for any special equipment. We decended 800 feet to Inspiration and Perfection Lake.
These lakes were magnificant and I recommend spending the night at Perfection Lake. The views are great and the fishing is fantastic. Oh yes bring a small fishing pole with flys and marshmallows. We forgot ours so we could only watch. Most people seemed to be catching lots of trout. I am a catch and release person but I still enjoy fishing and won't forget mine next time. I will be trying to get a permit to come up here next year again.
We spent the night at Perfection Lake and it had the most beautiful sunset I had ever seen. The colors were different then any I had seen before. We ate dinner and were entertained by four mountain goats that came into our campgrounds. I guess you could say we were in their grazing area. They watched us closely but we were pretty much ignored as long as we didn't make any sudden movements. We had an interesting night as the winds picked up to about 20 to 30 mph. I believe it was from the warm air coming up from the valley below because there was no significat clouds in the sky.
We headed out early the next morning for a 2000' descent over the next 4.5 miles past Sprite, Leprechaun, Viviane, Upper and Lower Snow Lakes finally ending at Nada Lake where we camped out our last night. This portion of the trail had spectacular picture taking along each lake as well as the surrounding mountains. There were some tricky switch backs, climbing over boulders, walking down steep flat granite surfaces but once again follow the stacked rocks.
All the lakes had a different look so you were always amazed each time you saw a new one. Lots of moutains goats along the way but no bears in sight. A important part of the hike for me was the lack of any significant mosquitoes. We finally got to Nada Lake around 2:00 pm which was early. We did this because we were told that the weekend warriors coming up the other direction fill up the camping spots on Friday nights. There were thoughts of walking out that day but it was not our original plan. The 5.5 miles to the bottom with a 3000' descend was the clinching factor for us to wait until tomorrow so this gave us a lot of time to explore. It was interesting to find out that they try to control the level of Lake Nada. Not sure all the details though.
We woke up the next morning early again and headed down the trail. We were informed that about half way down we would loose the trees because of a forest fire some years ago. This ensures lots of sun if you wait later to head down. They were right but it wasn't that bad as most of the trees along the creek were spared. Lots of places for water and berries to pick. A lot of switchbacks and a beautiful sunrise but we made it down this portion of the trail in about 3.5 hours.
Your cell phones will work about the time you see the parking lot which is still about 45 minutes out. I called my wife to come pick us up as she was down in Leavenworth in a condo relaxing and sewing which is her passion. She was there before us with several of our kids who showed up to visit while we were on our vacation. Not particular the welcome wagon I was looking for at the end as my brother and I were irritated and sore but that was expected. They just don't understand whats it's like to do this long of a hike.
All and all this was the most spectacular hike for taking pictures and recommend it to anyone who hasn't done it. It is about 18.1 miles so its not for the faint of heart but I still recommend climbing up Aasgard Pass instead of coming up Snow Lakes Trail 1553. You get to the top quicker and the rest is down hill. Do the trail the first of September to minimize bugs, snow and hot weather. Prepare ahead if you leave your car at the other end (Suart Lake Trail Head). Its a long way back to the car. If possible use two cars. You can drop one off at the end(Snow Lakes Trail Head)since you will pass this parking lot on the way to the beginnning which is (Stuart Lake Trail Head). If you only have one car don't despair most people here will give you a ride back up just ask around. This parking lot will have lots of cars and people coming and going and the ride back to the Stuart Lake Trail Head is about 20 to 30 minutes in a car from the end trail. Enjoy this hike, you will not be disappointed just prepare for it because it is not for the out of shape person and it took a toll on me and I thought I was in good shape. Check out the 15 minute slide presentation made to music of this hike and over 100 videos of other hikes I have done in Washington State on my youttube channel at lmm3181. Enjoy!! Mike
Enchantment Lakes #1553 — Sep 19, 2006 — mm
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We did a one-way trip entering the Enchantments via Asgard Pass and exiting on the Snow Creek trail....
We did a one-way trip entering the Enchantments via Asgard Pass and exiting on the Snow Creek trail. The Asgard Pass route is in good shape with a cairned, easy-to-follow path. Asgard was snow-free and there wasn't any snow in either the Upper or Lower Enchantments. But, since nighttime temperatures were in the 20's that could quickly change. The larches are just starting to turn.