Colchuk Lake, Stuart Lake Trailhead, Seattle: Alpine Lakes Wilderness - Snoqualmie Pass - Central Cascades, Washington

Colchuk Lake - 9.4 miles

Stuart Lake Trailhead

View of Colchuk Lake on the descent from Aasgard Pass

View of Colchuk Lake on the descent from Aasgard Pass

Round-Trip Length: 9.4 miles
Start-End Elevation: 3,380’ – 5,570’ (5,582’ max elevation)
Elevation Change: +2,190’ net elevation gain (+2,570' total roundtrip elevation gain)
Skill Level: Moderate
Dogs Allowed: No
Bikes Allowed: No
Horses Allowed: No
Related Trails:

Colchuk Lake - 9.4 Miles Round-Trip

Colchuk Lake (5,570') is located 4.7 miles from Stuart Lake Trailhead in the Alpine Lakes Wilderness. This large, striking lake is set below Dragontail Peak and Aasgard Pass in the heart of the Stuart Range and Enchantments Lakes Basin.

Trail Map | Photo Gallery

The Stuart Lake Trail runs 2.65 miles and 1030' up to the Colchuk Lake Trail, which splits south on a 2.05 mile, 1160' climb to the lake.

The Colchuk Lake Trail is steep, rough and eroded; hiking poles can be helpful, especially on the descent. Snow may linger well into July on shady, north-facing sections.

The Colchuk Lake Trail continues up to Aasgard Pass (7,812') and into the Enchantment Core. Expect crowds on shared sections with Lake Stuart and the Enchantments.

Colchuk Lake falls within the Enchantment Permit Area, and specific rules and permits apply for day and overnight use. Camping permits are limited. See below for important details.

Note: A Recreation Pass or Fee is required to access this trailhead. Dogs are not permitted on trails to Lake Stuart and Colchuk Lake:

The Stuart Lake Trail (#1599) heads SW to the Alpine Lakes Wilderness Boundary (.3 miles) and rises gently through stands of hemlock, silver fir and a few boggy areas of cedar and devil's club. Huckleberries are abundant on these early stretches.

It crosses a side stream on a log bridge (1.2 miles : 3,700') to a split for hikers and equestrians (1.6 miles : 3,800'). Take the left fork and cross Mountaineer Creek on a footbridge (1.8 miles); the right fork leads to a creek ford for horses and rejoins the main stem shortly after.

The trail passes a spur on the left for a campsite atop a large, flat boulder with up-valley views (2.0 miles : 3,990'), and gradually steepens on rugged, rooted tread to the Lake Stuart - Colchuk Lake Trail split (2.65 miles : 4,410'). Turn left for Colchuk and cross a footbridge over Mountaineer Creek a few steps ahead.

The trail weaves between the creek and base of a talus slide before re-entering thick forest on a steep, winding climb. Large rock slabs at 3.2 miles open to expansive views of the valley below.

Climbing intensifies past 3.6 miles (4,700') on rocky, rooted tread up to the NW side of Colchuk Lake (4.7 miles and 5,570'). Three privies and numerous campsites are spread across the west side of the lake.

Note your arrival / egress point from the lakeshore; it's rather anonymously marked and can be tricky to spot on the return.

The main trail braids as it makes its way around the lake, and can be indistinguishable from the many social trails which have formed. Conditions are generally rugged, especially on the talus-strewn south shore.

The main trail continues (south) around the west side of Colchuk before pitching up to Aasgard Pass (7,812'), considered one of the hardest climbs in the Cascades. 

The route between Colchuk and Aasgard Pass is exceedingly steep with loose rock, and can easily become technical with ice and snow (one section alone spans 2,100' vertical in just 1.4 miles). Carry proper gear and know how to use it if continuing on.

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Interactive GPS Topo Map

Key GPS Coordinates - DATUM WGS84

  • N47 31.664 W120 49.254 — 0.0 miles: Stuart Lake - Colchuk Lake Trailhead - 3,338'
  • N47 31.362 W120 49.398 — 0.5 miles: Riparian corridor following creek - 3,496'
  • N47 30.901 W120 49.612 — 1.2 miles: Cross stream - boggy areas - 3,701'
  • N47 30.665 W120 49.731 — 1.6 miles: Pass trail sign - cross footbridge - 3,803'
  • N47 30.518 W120 49.918 — 2.0 miles: Pass spur trail to campsite - 3,991'
  • N47 30.313 W120 50.423 — 2.65 miles: Turn left at Colchuk Lake Trail split - 4,412'
  • N47 30.051 W120 50.584 — 3.2 miles: Switchback up through woods
  • N47 29.943 W120 50.347 — 3.8 miles: Climb steepens with views - 4,886'
  • N47 29.941 W120 50.207 — 4.2 miles: Climb steep, eroded sections toward lake
  • N47 29.790 W120 50.084 — 4.7 miles: Arrive at Colchuk Lake - 5,570'

Worth Noting

  • This trail accesses the magnificent alpine bowl and lake below Dragontail Peak and Aasgard Pass. Many alpine rock and ice climbs on Colchuk, Dragontail, and Colchuk balanced rock begin here, as does the Enchantments loop hike if done from the west.
  • The final mile climbs steeply in places on eroded, rocky and rooty track. Hiking poles can be helpful.
  • Use caution if continuing on to Aasgard Pass. The terrain is steep, loose and oft-covered by snow and ice. Many falls occur here involving inadequately-prepared hikers. If ascending Aasgard Pass, carry an ice axe and crampons and know how to use them.

Camping and Backpacking Information

Permits are required for all overnight stays from May 15 - October 31 in the Enchantment Permit Area.

  • From October 16 – June 14, free unlimited permits are available for camping in the Enchantment Permit Area.

The Enchantment Permit Area is divided into five permit zones:

  • Core Enchantment Zone
  • Snow Lake Zone
  • Colchuck Lake Zone
  • Stuart Lake Zone
  • Eightmile/Caroline Permit Zone

Camping is restricted to the zone for which your permit is issued. The only exception is for the Core Enchantment Permit, which allows you to camp in any of the zones.

All visitors are welcome to day hike beyond their zone, meaning those with a Snow or Colchuck Zone Permit may also visit the Core Enchantments, but on a day-use only basis.

There are three methods of obtaining an overnight permit during the permit season:

  • Apply during the annual permit lottery.
  • Make a reservation online after the pre-season lottery.
  • Obtain a daily walk-in permit during the permit season

The Permit Lottery

  • A pre-season lottery is held in February through early March of each year to award the majority of permits.
  • Following the pre-season lottery, remaining permits are available on a first come, first served basis through the recreation.gov advance reservation system. A small number of permits are available on an unreserved daily walk-in basis at the Wenatchee Ranger Station in Leavenworth every morning during the permit season at 7:30 am (except Sundays).

Permit Fees, Rules and Restrictions

  • Permits are $5 per person, per day.
  • Permits are Non-Transferable.
  • Group Leaders cannot be changed.
  • Once a permit reservation is confirmed, no changes or additions may be made to the alternate group leader.
  • You must enter the permit area on the entry date shown on your permit.
  • You may camp only in the zone(s) indicated on your permit.
  • Maximum length of stay is 14 consecutive days. People may not exit and re-enter at a later date.

Violation of terms may result in a fine and/or revocation of the permit / early termination of your trip.

Camping Rules and Regulations

  • Group size is limited to 8 individuals or any combination of people and stock. All members of a permit group must camp together in one site.
  • Two (or more) groups on separate permits may not travel and/or camp together if the total number exceeds 8.
  • Groups must stay separate (minimum of 1 mile and 1hour) and independent throughout their trip.
  • Campfires are prohibited above 5,000', and within 1/2 mile of all lakes and streams.
  • Camp only in established campsites.
  • Bathe and wash dishes at least 150-200' from lakes and streams.

Fishing Information

  • According to the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, Colchuk Lake was last stocked with Cutthroat Trout in 2000.
  • Fishing is permitted throughout the Enchantment Lakes Basin and in all related streams with a valid WA state fishing license.
  • Contact the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife for specific guidelines.
  • wdfw.wa.gov/fishing/

Email: [email protected]
Sport | Commercial Licenses: 360.902.2434
Disability Licenses: 360.902.2460

Rules and Regulations

  • A valid Recreation Pass is required to access the Stuart Lakes Trailhead ($5 day use fee | overnight use requires payment for two days).
  • Dogs are not permitted in the Enchantment Lakes Permit Area, including Nada Lake, the Snow Lakes, all Enchantment lakes, Colchuck Lake and Stuart Lake.
  • Hiking and horseback riding are permitted on the Lake Stuart portion of the trail. The Colchuk Lake trail is hiker only.

Directions to Trailhead

Directions to Stuart Lake Trailhead:

The Stuart Lake Trailhead is located 12.2 miles from Highway 2 in Leavenworth.

From Highway 2 on the west end of town, turn south on Icicle Creek Road. Drive 8.5 miles to Bridge Creek Campground.

Turn left and drive past the campground, cross a bridge over Icicle Creek and continue past the Eightmile Lake Trailhead (which is 3 miles in).

Cross another bridge and continue .7 miles to the cul-de sac parking area and trailhead for Lake Stuart and Colchuck Lake. The lot fits 75 cars and has bathrooms.

Contact Information

Okanogan - Wenatchee National Forest | Wenatchee River Ranger District
600 Sherbourne St.
Leavenworth, WA 98826
509.548.2550

Okanogan - Wenatchee National Forest | Headquarters
215 Melody Lane
Wenatchee, WA 98801
509.664.9200

Reference: Stuart Lake Trail to Colchuk Lake Trail | #1599 to #1599.1

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