Monday, August 10, 2009

Colchuck Lake

Location: Alpine Lakes Wilderness, Washington
Duration: 2-3 Day
Season: Spring - Fall
Distance: ~9 miles, round trip
Difficulty: Moderate

Colchuck Lake is found in the Alpine Lakes Wilderness Area. An area located in the rugged Central Cascades Region of Washington State. Alpine Lakes Wilderness encompasses approximately 394,000 acres accessed by 47 trailheads and 615 miles of trails.

The name Alpine Lakes takes its origin from the nearly 700 small mountain lakes nestled like jewels among the high rocky peaks and timbered valleys of the region. Colchuck Lake is one of those jewels and located within the borders of this great wilderness.

From the trailhead at 3400 feet, the trail climbs through the forest along side Mountaineer Creek for the first mile. You should start to feel the elevation gain as it switchbacks to a junction at 2 1/2 miles (4,500 feet). At the junction, the trail to the right goes to Lake Stuart (5,064 feet). For Colchuck Lake, continue left and cross Mountaineer Creek where you can catch a nice view of Mt. Stewart to the South.

After the junction, the trail then climbs through open forest with granite knolls providing hikers with opportunities to grab a snack and/or enjoy the view, weather permitting. Soon, the trail should pass a waterfall and then continue to climb to Colchuck Lake at 5,570 feet.

There are several designated campsites and toilets nearby. The hike to the lake is ~4.5 miles, one way. Note: Above the head of the lake is Aasgard Pass, a shortcut into the Enchantment Lakes Basin, but it's not for inexperienced hikers: The route is steep and hazardous.

Regulations to be aware of are that campfires are prohibited above 5000 feet elevation, dogs are not allowed, permits are required and group size is limited to twelve (12) in most areas. The Enchantments have a party size limit of eight (8).

Directions: From Leavenworth, WA, On the west outskirt of town, turn right on Icicle Creek Road and drive 8.5 miles to Forest Service road No. 7601, which turns off to the left, just past Eightmile Creek Campground. Drive four miles to the trailhead parking lot, elevation approximately 3,500 feet.

For a map, pictures and more info click on Colchuck Lake

See you on the trail,

All Day Energy Runners

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