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.
This trail can be done as a run-hike, although footing is challenging throughout, and it's easier to start going up Aasgard than descending Aasgard at the end.
This run 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.
Wildflowers are prevalent throughout this region. In the fall, this run 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.