- How to Reach The Enchantments
- The Enchantments Trail
- Complete Guide to Hiking the Enchantments
- Four-Peak Enchantments Slam : Photo Albums : SummitPost
The combination of granite peaks, mountain goats, towering conifers, and crystal clear lakes makes the journey worthwhile. The Enchantments are a delicate ecosystem that could easily become run down and overcrowded if camping was not regulated during busy periods. For a chance to secure an overnight permit between May 15 and October 31, campers should apply in advance during the annual permit lottery.
Click here to apply for your Enchantments Permit. Additionally, Enchantments permits zones are divided into five sections, and you can apply for your preferred zone plus two alternatives. Applications are usually accepted between mid-February and early March, and winning applications are then drawn at random.
You can apply for the lottery at recreation.
How to Reach The Enchantments
Once the lottery has been drawn, you must check online to view the results. Not all permits are issued during the lottery, so unsuccessful applicants have the opportunity to go online and claim a remaining available date. In addition, the final option for securing a permit is to get a daily permit in the walk-in lottery. These permits are extremely limited and are drawn daily Monday through Saturday at am at the Wenatchee River Ranger District Office in Leavenworth.
The Enchantments Trail
Day use passes are free and unlimited, though it is difficult to reach the most stunning sections of The Enchantments in a single day. For a taste of the terrain, which will be beautiful no matter how far you go just fill out a day-use permit at any of the trailheads going into The Enchantment Permit Area. Follow it for 8 miles, then turn left onto Forest Service Road The hike from the Stuart Lake trailhead to the Snow Lake trailhead is about 19 miles long. The thru-hike is typically done from the Stuart Lake trailhead, because it reduces the total elevation gain by 2, feet relative to going the opposite direction although it still takes in the punishing climb up Aasgard Pass, which rises 1, feet in less than a mile.
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This guide uses the thru-hike as a basis for describing the route through the entire Enchantments. Starting from the Stuart Lake trailhead, follow the route to Colchuck Lake.
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From the end of the trail at the far end of the lake, cross boulders around the shore under the terminal moraine of the Colchuck Glacier the trail may disappear at times, but cairns usually mark the way. After passing by a particularly tall boulder, the trail skirts a sandy beach and begins snaking through subalpine firs and creek beds. Soon after, the route begins climbing steeply over jumbled talus; this is the start of Aasgard Pass.
Stay to the left to avoid much steeper, impassable terrain. Around the grove, the route hugs the sheer rock opposite Dragontail Peak the dark imposing pyramid that blocks out most of the sky to your right when looking uphill , before traveling through a section of loose rock and scree. Views are simply awesome throughout the ascent, stretching from nearby Colchuck Peak and the aquamarine of Colchuck Lake to Glacier Peak and Mount Baker in the distance. After crossing a branch of the creek, the route steepens again, becoming a hands-and-feet scramble through stunted larches.
The final third of the climb is over large boulders, finally topping out at 7, feet. These are the Upper Enchantments. The lakes in this section sit in a stark moonscape of rock, scree and ice below the long ridge culminating in the summit of Dragontail Peak, just above the pass. The trail snakes its way through grey lichen-covered rocks along the shores of Tranquil and Isolation Lakes before dropping steadily to the broad plateau beneath Little Annapurna so named for its resemblance to the much taller Nepalese peak.
Complete Guide to Hiking the Enchantments
Beneath Little Annapurna, the barren rock gives way to a lusher alpine meadow, where the creek connecting the lakes meanders gently before tipping into a deeper channel and speeding downhill. The first larches appear as the plateau ends abruptly in expansive views over Crystal Lake and the Ingalls Creek valley below. The trail now heads east and down a steep draw to Inspiration Lake. This azure pool tucked deep in a basin below Enchantment Peak marks the beginning of the Middle Enchantments.
Inspiration is perhaps the most dramatic of the lakes, with granite rising steeply on three sides and a stand of larches on the opposite shore. The trail proceeds through these larches before dropping a short distance down to Perfection Lake. As you descend to the shore, you pass through tall larches whose ages are most likely measured in multiple centuries. The top of the lake is shallow and perfectly clear. The trail passes through gentle meadows of grass and heather and over carved inlets leading from Prusik Pass a side trail runs up to this saddle below Prusik Peak, yielding even more jaw-dropping views and continues along the eastern shore.
The view back across the water reveals a stair-step wall of granite over which the main creek cascades down to the lake. A short while later, the trail climbs slightly and rounds the corner to Sprite Lake, connected to Perfection by a narrow slot of white water. Instead, and rare among Cascade basins, granite trails connect jewel-like lakes set against the rugged, panoramic backdrop of the Stuart Range. Scattered throughout the valley are mountain goats, waterfalls and stands of tamarack trees, or larches, waiting to turn golden in the fall.
Like all great things, this scenic splendor does not come without sacrifice. Each of the two main routes to reach the basin presents challenges. The more commonly recommended Snow Lake trail enters the Enchantments' lower basin from the east and climbs 6, feet over a long 10 miles to get there.
Four-Peak Enchantments Slam : Photo Albums : SummitPost
The shorter but more grueling route climbs Aasgard Pass above Colchuck Lake to reach the Enchantments' upper basin from the west. Although the Colchuck route is just under 6 miles long and gains less than 4, feet, more than half of that elevation is gained in the final mile ascending Aasgard Pass. Because ice, snow or sudden storms can make the steeps of Aasgard Pass highly treacherous, only experienced mountaineers with adequate equipment should consider this approach. Once you're inside the basin, memories of the rigorous ascent quickly fade.
Find a campsite by one of the many pristine lakes and explore to your heart's content. Fish, swim, hike, scramble up one of the surrounding peaks like Little Annapurna, or rope up and follow. Commune with the mountain goats, but be careful to keep a safe distance. Photographers like myself will be overwhelmed by the endless scenic possibilities.
Here are a couple of inside tips: The larch trees are magnificent in the fall, and the views afforded by a side trip up Prusik Pass are well worth the effort. Backpackers seeking to camp from mid-June to mid-October must obtain permits through an online lottery; about 50 percent of lottery applicants receive permits.