Route/Place: Alpine Lakes Wilderness, Washington
Trip Time: 8 hours
Activity Type: Trail Running
Trip Result: Successful
Rating: ***** (my favourite trail run ever!)
Road Conditions: 2WD to Snow Lake Trail head and 6 km section of rough FSR gaining 500m which could possibly be done in a 2WD but i'd probably advise against it.
Route Conditions: Little bit of everything. Rooty dirt single track, steep loose rock, smooth sandy trail, smooth granite rock descents.
Route Beta: With so many lakes to fill up, we took 2 x 500ml soft flasks and used a Salomon water filter. Never carrying more than 1L to keep weight down. Camp sites are probably full in Leavenworth, so we car camped on the road going past Snow Lake Trail. There is plenty of pull outs and we heard if you arrive late and leave early you are in the clear. Saturday is the busiest day, choose Sunday if you have to go on a weekend. The trail is pretty busy up to Colchuck Lake, expect to pass many day hikers. However, after Asgard Pass you barely see anyone until the later stages.
Check out some of our teams other adventures
The Enchantments Traverse
The Enchantment Traverse is a legendary backcountry route nestled in the Alpine Lakes Wilderness of Washington state, USA. Known for its breathtaking beauty and challenging terrain, this route can be done as a single day hike, trail run or multi day hike (if you are able to get a ticket from the lottery). The route offers you an opportunity to explore some of the most stunning alpine landscapes the Pacific Northwest has to offer. We embarked on this adventure in early August, seeking to witness the vibrant wildflowers, shimmering alpine lakes, and majestic peaks that make the Enchantment Traverse an iconic destination.
Colchuck Lake and Aasgard Pass
We began our journey at the Snow Lake trailhead. It’s self service to register your car at the Snow Lake car park and costs $5. The car park is tiny so you can park on the road if there is no spaces and you do not have to pay or register your car. Because the trail is a point to point, you either need two cars or use one of the shuttle service. We used the enchantments shuttle. Were collected from Snow Lake Trail Head and dropped of at the Stuart lake trail head. We signed ourselves in at the sign in station and set off up the trail.
The first leg of the trail led us through lush forest, following alongside the babbling streams. After about 6km and 733m of vertical we reached the picturesque Colchuck Lake, where the reflection of the towering Dragontail Peak on the crystal-clear waters left us in awe.
The entire enchainment traverse is clearly marked trail with cairns everywhere. From Colchuck Lake, the real fun began as we ascended the notorious Aasgard Pass. The ascent was steep and demanding, it’s the kind of trail where you want to put your hands on your knees whilst hiking up.
Once we reached the top we were greeted by the expansive Core Enchantment Basin and a family of mountain goats happily having a rest on a rock. This route has mountain goats everywhere! We choose to take 20 minutes for lunch and admire the panoramic views that were truly awe-inspiring, with jagged peaks and glaciers surrounding us in every direction.
Core Enchantment Basin
The basin is remarkably varied, with peaks that resemble the Bugaboos, sandy trails that zig zag their way through golden meadows and a plethora of wildflowers, ranging from lupines to Indian paintbrushes that made for a dreamlike setting. We continued our run past Isolation Lake, Inspiration Lake, and towards Perfection Lake - one of the most serene spots on the Enchantment Traverse. Nestled amidst towering granite cliffs and draped in a tranquil stillness, the west end of Perfection Lake provides a perfect spot to refresh yourself.
It was a great opportunity to test out the new Dynafit Ultra 100 trail running shoe. The Enchantments has all types of terrain so it was the perfect testing ground for this new shoe. Check out my review here.
Out of the Enchantments
Making our way through the 10 alpine lakes required us the get the map out several times. There are many trails criss crossing each other and it’s somewhat disorientating passing by so many lakes. The descent down from Lake Vivienne has a short portion with some via ferrata style ladders. We headed in to the forest which was a welcome rest from the intense sun. After making our way around the Upper Snow Lake we decided it’s time for a swim. The water was the perfect temperature and crystal clear.
From the last lake Nada, the temperature cranked up, the ground become dustier so we got out heads down all the way to the car. After your cross the bridge right before the car park there is two beautiful spots to jump in the water and freshen up before driving away.
The Enchantment Traverse is an unforgettable trail run that rewards runners with a truly enchanting experience. From the stunning beauty of Colchuck Lake to the exhilarating challenge of Aasgard Pass and the captivating landscapes of the Core Enchantment Basin, this route provides an opportunity to immerse oneself in the untamed majesty of the Washington wilderness. However, it's important to note that this is a solid day in the mountains that requires careful planning and preparation. Proper gear, basic navigation skills, and a very good level of fitness are essential for a safe and enjoyable journey through the Enchantments. Nevertheless, for those willing to take on the adventure, the Enchantment Traverse will undoubtedly leave an indelible mark on their hearts and minds.