The Colchuck Lake hike is undoubtedly one of the PNW's best and is VFC's favorite, aside from what sits beyond the lakes in the Enchantments. Travel down Icicle Road for 8.4 miles until you reach Forest Road 7601. Like most one day thru-hikers we started at Colchuck trailhead and descended down to Snows Lake trailhead. Total time 11 hours C2C. Here's a short list of nearby campgrounds sorted by proximity to the Snow Lakes Trailhead, and you'll find several more that are farther afield featured in below. The trail immediately crosses Mountaineer Creek again and then climbs steeply over sometimes rocky and washed-out trail. Stuart Lake and Colchuck Lake share the same trail for about 2 miles. Took the "winter route" from Icicle Creek Road up to Colchuck Lake which adds 8 miles. Colchuck Lake is a beautiful, blue lake with dramatic peaks in the background. The snow covered everything and the environment was so different compared to my previous two hikes up Colchuck this past summer. If you’re kind of in the middle like me, you’ll also be fine! Turn left here and trail soon crosses Mountaineer Creek again on a log bridge. This map was created by a user. Turn south onto Icicle Creek Road, which is well maintained for the most part. As if Colchuck Lake alone weren’t enough of a draw, it is one of the two gateways to the Enchantments, and the trailhead also accesses Stuart Lake, an easier and equally awesome destination. I packed a cooler in the morning, so we had cold beers waiting for us. Paul Kriloff. Hiked on 11/8. The first time you round the corner and come out of the trees at Colchuck Lake is something of a religious experience. However, the way back was difficult for me. Hiked in: Saturday, October 5, 2019 Colchuck Lake + Upper Enchantments Alpine Lakes Wilderness Roundtrip: ~16 miles Highest pt: 7,841 ft Elevation gain: 4,300 ft Ah, October… the perfect fall hiking conditions for dramatic yellow larches, super comfortable trekking temperatures and a high prob Different, but still very beautiful and quiet. Colchuck Lake is one of the lakes that make up the Enchantments area of the Alpine Lakes Wilderness, which was established in 1976 and consists of 391,988 acres. Even though it is a steady uphill climb to Colchuck Lake, this felt like one of the easiest and fastest sections of the hike. Any real difficulties for novice hikers? After one final steep stretch, the trail takes a jog to the right, drops into a small swale and suddenly, there you are at one of the finest lake views in the Cascades. It took about 3 hours to get to the trailhead, called Stuart and Lake Colchuck trailhead, and about 6 – 7 hours to finish the entire hike. COLCHUCK LAKE TO STUART LAKE TRAILHEAD. Trail steepens after the bridge and at 2.5 miles the junction with Colchuck Lake Trail is reached. To the right are the remnants of the Colchuck Glacier and the slopes of Colchuck Peak, its true summit tucked out of view behind rocky towers. With an elevation gain of over 2000 feet, the hike to Colchuck lake is challenging. I will do this one again for sure but in daylight. It's 8.0 miles round trip to Colchuck Lake, with about 2,200 feet of elevation gain. Sadly Forest Road 7601 was closed when we tried to go today (11/12) may be closed for the season. 4.5 miles with 2,300 ft. elevation gain Starting at the Stuart Lake trailhead, we hiked in to our campsite at Colchuck Lake. It’s a pristine alpine lake with soaring, jagged mountains above you, turquoise clear water below, and the added plus: water warm enough you can stomach swimming in. WTA Pro Tip: There are campsites all along the lakeshore, but be aware that camping here is managed under the same strict regime as the core Enchantment Zone -– overnight stays are by permit only from May 15th-October 31st. You’ll want at least one liter or more. Three quarters of a mile later, the trail flattens out and drops a little before reaching a trail junction. 4:45 AM came quick and we were up eating a big breakfast, drinking cold brew, and packing our daypacks before we hit the trailhead at 6:05 AM. The first time you round the corner and come out of the trees at Colchuck Lake is something of a religious experience. Many layers and gloves highly recommended. Many people going uphill welcome the opportunity to pause and let a downhill person go first. The road in was paced, compact snow and ice but manageable for most cars, even 2 wheel drive - however, I expect after last night's storms road and route condition have already changed drastically, as Blewett and Snoqualmie pass both had a lot of snow as we drove home. Thankfully you have plenty of good options that are very close to the Snow Lakes Trailhead and the Stuart Lake Trailhead, which is popular for the Colchuck Lake route. A magical day. Turn south onto Icicle Creek Road, which is well maintained for the most part. The trip to the lake is just under 4 mi (6.44 km). Leavenworth also provides a strong offering of sausages for pre-hike dinner. There are also campsites near north end of lake. not a lot of people! I went 11/8 and had nanospikes which helped tremendously. Otherwise, you can park about 3/4 of the way up in a usual good trail car. Carried axes and some MSR snowshoes just for extra weight. The 8-9 mile roundtrip hike was tiresome, but well worth it. To hike to Colchuck Lake, you’ll want to start at the Stuart Lake trailhead and parking area. Follow the potholed dirt road 3.7 miles to the Stuart Lake trailhead. Follow the trail to the left and after a short stretch in the trees, come to another log bridge that takes you across a narrow, turbulent section of Mountaineer Creek. A northwest forest pass is required. Note: The road leading to the trailhead may be closed during the winter and will add 8 miles to your overall trip. Honestly, I am shocked, amazed, and impressed at how some people get up, but they do. "Gateway to the Enchantments." You can replenish water in the creeks or lake, but be sure to filter or treat before drinking. After the walk through the woods, you will cross the creek on a bridge before beginning the first real incline of the hike. The trail to Colcuck lake is 7.7 miles roundtrip and is quite the adventure. But the steepest sections at the end was icy. (Seems obvious but we noticed many others were a bit under prepared). So just keep your eyes peeled for a trail head … Didn’t need spikes but poles were pretty critical on way down in this section. Good hiking boots helped and for me micro spikes were not needed. Suddenly, laid out beneath your feet are the icy waters of the lake–-deep blue in the shade, bright aquamarine in sunlight–-while high above you at the far end of the lake, the twin spires of Dragontail and Colchuck Peaks seem to crowd out the very sky. The jagged peaks and passes surrounding the lake have mystical names like Dragontail and Aasgard Pass. Colchuck Lake is one of the gateways into the Enchantments. Made it unpleasant to say the least. Trail steepens after the bridge and at 2.5 miles the junction with Colchuck Lake Trail is reached. Part of its magic was induced by hiking in 102 degree heat. It was a good, hard hike, but nothing crazy – we took maybe 2:15 or so on the way up and flew down in 1:45 or so after the technical icy bits toward the top. As stated below, road to trailhead closes on 11/9, and would add 8 (boring) miles to the total. Douglas S. Squirrel on Colchuck Lake The land is public and everyone can use it, but the improvements to it are classified differently. You can read about the trail conditions and other people’s reviews, pretty up to date, here. Find a good spot, to get the best views and capture this moment by taking photos. In summer, cars fill not only the trailhead parking lot, but the road leading to it. Head left and and continue on the Colchuck Lake trail until you come across another log bridge. Start early. Parking anywhere else along Road 7601 is not allowed.