Enchantment Lakes Run

Colchuck Lake

Colin and I ran the Enchantment Lakes circuit in exactly 5 hours. The point-to-point run starts at the trailheaad for Colchuck Lake (3,400 ft) and ends at the Snow Creek trailhead (1,400 ft) with the high point at Aasgard Pass (~7,850 ft) . Total mileage is around 18-19 miles with cumulative elevation gain over 5,000 feet.

The famous Enchantments are a string of lakes on a high plateau east of the Cascade crest in central Washington. The elevation range of the plateau is between 6,800 to 7,800 which is quite high for the Cascades. Due to their eastern location, the region looks and feels different than points further west and the weather is dependably better.

The area is characterized by ubiquitous granite, delightful alpine lakes, tundra-like meadows, and stands of stoic larch trees that turn golden in the fall. The beauty of the Enchantments is not a secret as it is one of the most popular backpacking destinations in the state. To protect the fragile environment, a strict overnight quota system was implemented over 20 years ago. The local ultrarunning community also does an informal group run here every fall.

Our pace of 3.7-3.8 mph is seemingly slow, but these trails are extremely rough and rugged with rocks, roots, and awkward slabs. Did I mention rocks? I was only able to open up my stride on about 10% of the run and there are sections that are essentially not runnable (particularly the 2,200 ft climb to Aasgard Pass in 1.25 miles). We also took time to enjoy the scenic portion with photography on the iconic plateau. I figure this point-to-point can be done in closer to 4 hours sans enjoyment of the surroundings; anything faster would risk having a dysfunctional ankle.

I have fond memories of my last visit to the Enchantments on a two night backpacking trip with my father 11 years ago (12 year old). The beauty of the Enchantments left an impression on me and I wanted to see more of the Cascades after that trip. It was nice to finally come back to this place and enjoy some of the scenes that captivated me as a youngster.

See more photos from the run HERE.

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2 thoughts on “Enchantment Lakes Run

  1. Beautiful terrain. You just spiked my interest for a nice Saturday run. I was thinking you needed one of those coveted passes to get into the area, but I guess that is just for spending the night???

  2. Pingback: Enchantment Lakes 1997 « Leor Pantilat’s Blog

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