Enchantment Lakes

OutAndBack • 25 mi • 6500 ft

The quintessential Alpine Lakes Wilderness hike to the fabled Enchantment Lakes. No hike in the Alpine Lakes Wilderness compares with a walk through the Enchantment Lakes. Not even close. It is the hike against which all other hikes are compared, and they all woefully fail to measure up. This high plateau sparkles with dozens of pristine lakes, from tiny ponds to deep pools, set in finely polished granite basins adorned with golden larch trees, guarded by rows of angular granite peaks. Every superlative one could heap upon the Enchantments would not begin to describe just how absolutely lovely and sublime—how enchanting—these lakes are. I will not attempt to do justice to the Enchantments; you will have to experience them for yourself. That may not be easy. Because of their remoteness, the Enchantment Lakes are not a day hike for any but the most fit and determined hikers. And because a permit is required to camp at or anywhere near the Enchantment Lakes, and only so many permits are available, only a lucky few are able to visit the Enchantments each season. You increase your chances by coming during the week before or after peak season, although the best time to visit is early fall, just before the season’s first snowfall, when the larches turn from delicate green to blazing gold.
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Activity Type: Hiking
Nearby City: Leavenworth
Length: 25 total miles
Elevation Gain: 6,500 feet
Trail Type: Out-and-back
Skill Level: Strenuous
Duration: Overnight backpacking trip
Season: Best late summer through Fall
Trailhead Elevation: 1,200 feet
Top Elevation: 7,840 feet
Local Contacts: Wenatchee National Forest, Leavenworth Ranger District
Local Maps: USGS Blewett, Enchantment Lakes, Mount Stuart; Green Trails 210 (Liberty), 209 (Mount Stuart)
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Recent Trail Reviews


Awesome trail! Too much snow to stay at the lakes, so we stayed at Colchuk Lake. Did not temper the experience at all...tons of great day hikes and snow climbing the passes was awesome! Love the goats.


Scenery is first rate, national park quality, larch and granite. Mountain goats, ptarmigan, and other wildlife are neither too friendly nor too easily spooked, very cool. A lot of airplane noise. Only one or two larches had turned color; better in 3 or 4 weeks I suppose. It is a very strenuous hike; all but the fittest will want to spend on night at snow lake; trail gets more taxing after that. Not technically difficult in the end but maybe vertiginous in a few places, go slow. You'll want to wander slowly around the lakes for at least 2 nights before heading back; the area is not large, but it is a great place to be lazy. Permits are a roll of the dice, so apply for 3 days minimum and use your vacation here if you win! Treat this fragile place with the utmost care, please.

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