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11 Tips For Hiking The Enchantments in Washington This Year

Are you planning to head into the Enchanemtnets in 2024? These 10 tips will help introduce you to the epic trail in the Washington cascade and put you on the right path towards acing this hike!

Prepare for Insane Crowds

Hikers in the Enchantments.
Photo Credit: Alec Sills-Trausch

This is arguably the most popular hike in the entire state of Washington and possibly in the PNW at large. While most won’t hike the entire Enchantments route, plenty do the 20-mile trek through alpine heaven to see the sights. With the hundreds who hike to Colchuck Lake daily, you won’t have much alone time with nature unless you plan to head out at sunrise or do a sunset send.

Bring The Right Gear

Photo Credit: Alec Sills-Trausch

If you plan to hike the entire trail, make sure to bring the appropriate gear including a water filter, headlamp, light jacket for the morning and evening portions, a satellite comms device, and plenty of food to get you through the hike.

Coming unprepared may not be a death sentence but it will put you at risk and may result in you needing to be rescued.

Colchuck Lake Is Not A Casual Stroll

Colchuck Lake - Enchantments
Photo Credit: Alec Sills-Trausch

Speaking of Colchuck Lake, it’s not a consolation prize. It’s a wildly impressive hike that’s also tough. You’ll feel your legs burning throughout this trek at eight miles and 2,400 feet of elevation gain. If you want to ditch the crowds, go to the back of the lake where few go (unless they’re doing the entire Enchantments thru-hike).

Aasgard Pass Is As Terrible As People Say

Aasgard Pass
Photo Credit: Alec Sills-Trausch

2,000 feet in a mile sucks. There is really nothing to say that can make it better. Just take your time, enjoy your breaks, and be safe as you hike up. A pro tip is to stay to the left as you hike up, as the right side is a stream going down it.

The Goats Will Stalk You

An Enchantments mountain goat. These are very common.
Photo Credit: Alec Sills-Trausch

Expect the goats to come say hi to you, especially after you go pee. They love the salt in your urine and will come lap it up once you’re done. To protect the environment, try to pee on rocks so they aren’t constantly digging up the ground throughout the Core Zone.

Larch Madness Is Incredible

Photo Credit: Alec Sills-Trausch

I still haven’t experienced Larch Madness in this area, though I have in other areas of the Alpine Lakes Wilderness. Thanks to the higher elevation, there’s a short window here, but it’s gorgeous. You’re in for a treat if you can make it above Aasgard Pass.

Winning The ‘Core Zone’ Permits Is Like Winning The Lottery

Inside the Core Zone on the Enchantments thru hike
Photo Credit: Alec Sills-Trausch

For most people, the only way they will see the Core Zone is by trekking through it in a day or by hiking in and out of it during their backpacking trip. But some will get the luxury of spending multiple days up here. If you win the Core Zone lottery, you’re in an exclusive club, as around 1% of people get selected.

The Thru-Hike is 20 Hard Miles

a perfect reflection in the enchantments.
Photo Credit: Alec Sills-Trausch

Most hikers start at Colchuck Lake and then hike through the Enchantments to the Snow Lakes parking lot. In all, the hike is about 20 miles with 5,000+ feet of elevation gain. Once you reach Aasgard Pass, it’s all downhill.

I personally suggest people flip around at the end of the Core Zone, enjoy the stunning views, and save your legs a few miles by returning via Colchuck Lake.

Swim At Any Of The Lakes

Above Leprechaun Lake. Near the end of the Core Zone while doing the Enchantments Thru hike.
Photo Credit: Alec Sills-Trausch

Summer in this area is perfection. Yes, the lakes are snowmelt, but it’ll feel so good after hiking 7-10 miles. Don’t miss the opportunity to jump in and soak your legs before crushing the second half of the hike.

Tread Lightly

Looking down at Crystal Lake in the Alpine Lakes Wilderness.
Photo Credit: Alec Sills-Trausch

This area is definitely being loved to death. Please stay on established trails when you can and tread lightly as you trek through this pristine landscape. There’s no need to make a new path if there’s a nearby trail. If everyone did this, the entire region would have crisscrossing trails.

Use the Pit Toilets When You Can

Photo Credit: Alec Sills-Trausch

On that same topic, there are a handful of toilets in the area. Follow the signs, and if you’re close, use them to keep the area from becoming a human litterbox.

Author: Alec Sills-Trausch

Title: Founder of Explore with Alec

Expertise: Hiking, Backpacking, Photography, and Road Trips

Alec Sills-Trausch is a hiker, backpacker, landscape photographer, and syndicated travel writer. He enjoys showing off the beauty of the world through his photos, videos, and written work on Alec is also a 2x cancer survivor and bone marrow transplant recipient, showing the world that there is a future from this terrible disease.

He lives in Washington, where he gets to enjoy the stunning PNW mountains in addition to all the other places he attempts to visit each year! You can see more work on IG at @AlecOutside