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black Enchantments Traverse

  4.9 ( 58 ) Favorite

Trail

19.1 mile 30.8 kilometer point to point
Difficult

Elevation

Ascent: 4,556' 1,389 m
Descent: -6,674' -2,034 m
High: 7,795' 2,376 m
Low: 1,319' 402 m

Grade

Avg Grade: 11% (6°)
Max Grade: 50% (26°)

Dogs

No Dogs
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Trail shared by ChewiePDX

An extraordinary hike that takes you through all of the beauty that the Enchantments have to offer!

ChewiePDX

Features Fall Colors · Lake · River/Creek · Swimming · Views · Waterfall · Wildflowers · Wildlife

A Northwest Forest Pass is required for parking here.

Backcountry camping is available by permit only from June 15 - October 15. Backcountry permits can be obtained via a lottery that opens in February. A limited number of same-day walk-in backcountry permits are given out at the Leavenworth Ranger station, usually at 7 a.m. These are available daily (except Sundays).

Overview

This route will take you through the most popular section of the Enchantments. You'll get great views of most of the peaks and get to travel over challenging mountain passes. This is a must-do for everyone's northwest bucket list. Given that this is a point-to-point, you'll need to drop a car or arrange a pickup.

Places to fill and filter water along this trail are numerous. The areas that have little to no water access are from Colchuck Lake to the Enchantments Lake Basin and from Lake Vivian down to the Snow Lakes.

Description

This hike can be done in either direction, but it is most popularly done from Stuart Lake TH to Snow Lakes TH, and that is how it is described below.

From the trailhead, head south through the forest wandering around the river. The first 2.5 miles are all fairly similar. At 2.6 miles, you'll reach the junction with Colchuck Lake Trail #1599.1. From here, head on the southeast-bound trail on your left, towards Colchuck Lake. From here, the trail will increase in grade. It will also become much rockier. After climbing for just over 1.6 miles (4.2 miles total) you'll reach your junction with Colchuck Lake. Enjoy the view here of the massive peaks all around the lake. You'll skirt around the west side of the lake for around .7 miles.

As you reach the south end of Colchuck Lake, you'll start the short, but grueling climb up Aasgard Pass. The climb lasts about 1.6 miles of following cairns up a rocky path. Getting to the top of Aasgard will give you one of the best views within the Enchantments. From here, you'll drop into the lakes basin passing multiple gorgeous, photo-worthy lakes (Tranquil, Isolation, and Inspiration Lake to name a few), on you way to your junction with Snow Lakes Trail #1553. Approximately 1.9 miles after the top of Aasgard Pass, you'll reach a trail junction with Prusik Pass to your north, left, and Snow Lakes Trail #1553 to your southeast, right. This junction will be at just under 8 miles total.

Follow Snow Lakes Trail #1553 from here and be ready for a long descent. Enjoy the views all around you of the peaks and lakes - Perfection Lake, Sprite Lake, Leprechaun Lake, and finally Lake Viviane. After Lake Viviane, you wont have a reliable water source until you reach Upper Snow Lake in 1.6 miles. This descent will take you over solid rock features and onto some loose rock areas between some sections of great trail.

After you get to Upper Snow Lake, you'll skirt around the lake for 1.5 miles of flat terrain which is much welcomed after the steep descent. At the end of Upper Snow Lake, you'll cross over a man-made damn that has water flowing over it. This is usually a welcomed cold soak for you feet after just over 12 miles on the trail. From here you'll descend another 1.7 miles over mostly rocky terrain down to Nada Lake. You'll usually be welcomed here with a swarm of mosquitoes.

I recommend filling water somewhere near here before continuing as there are limited water sources for the next 2.5 miles. Continue your descent on this well-worn trail. At around 17 miles, just over two miles from Snow Lakes TH, you'll be directly across from the popular Snow Creek Wall. This is a very popular rock climbing location and on the right day you'll see multiple parties making their way up this 800 foot rock wall. From here, the trail continues to descend on well worn tracks until you reach the valley floor. The trail will continue along Icicle Creek for a short time until you cross a large bridge and head up to the parking lot at Snow Lakes TH.

Flora & Fauna

Wildflowers are prevalent throughout this region. In the fall, this hike is great for Larches.

Be on the lookout for mountain goats. They crave salt so please urinate in backcountry toilets when possible. When toilets are unavailable, please urinate on rocks, otherwise the mountain goats will tear up the ground and vegetation.

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Check-Ins

Jun 24, 2019
Astrid Santiago
Snow and scrambles slow you down. Expect to take longer than you think. 23mi
May 31, 2019
Eyung Gov
Oct 14, 2018
Mel Masuda
Great day seeing the larches with Clint. 2nd time this summer - much less snow and more people compared to June. Last 5 miles still sucks. 20mi
Oct 13, 2018
Clint Valentine
Day hike with Melanie M. Warm October air and golden larches. 19.5mi
Sep 20, 2018
Laura Gouin
Getting ready to start.
Sep 7, 2018
Natty Bone
It was the hardest hike I have ever done. But the most beautiful place I have ever seen.
Aug 31, 2018
Cody Simmons
Aug 26, 2018
Tim Hussey
19.1mi

Trail Ratings

  4.9 from 57 votes

#52

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  4.9 from 57 votes
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