Lake Stuart and Colchuck lake trail is an absolutely must-hike trail when in the Leavenworth, Washington. I hiked Lake Colchuck in the fall two years ago (September 23, 2018) and finally did Lake Stuart last Sunday (June 21, 2020). We got to the trailhead by 8:45 am, took lots of photos and an hour and a half nap at the lake, and got back to our car by 5:30 pm. Lots of people took the wrong route and went to Stuart instead of Colchuk, so pay attention to road signs when you’re at the fork (straight leads to Stuart, and left turn is to Colchuk).
Lake Stuart is rated as moderate, and I think it is not very difficult compared to Lake Colchuck. If Colchuck gets a 5 for view and 4 for ease, Stuart gets a 5 for ease and a 4 for view. However, Lake Stuart is way quieter, and we managed to find a waterfront rock and enjoyed our alone time. It was very nice and relaxing as I got to tan, nap, and enjoyed the beautiful view! Both are still long hikes and my feet almost gave out every time. Definitely read reviews and plan ahead accordingly if you want to successfully complete the hike and have fun.
Lake Stuart, Lake Colchuck, and The Enchantments Core share the same trailhead, so it’s a VERY busy trail, especially on the weekends. Parking lot here is filled up quickly, and a parking permit is required to park your car overnight at the trailhead’s lot. So arrive early to avoid having to park your car so far away!
The Enchantments is one magnificent place, possibly the most beautiful place in Washington, that I have yet to explore. Camping is by permit only from May 15th to October 31st. The permit is awarded by the Forrest Service through a lottery system that opens in February.
June is the cherry season, so we wanted to stop by a cherry u-pick farm. So we went cherry picking on Saturday and decided to stay overnight in Leavenworth. I found this public parking lot in Leavenworth on Reddit, so we decided to pack warm stuff to sleep in the car and opt for that route since it’s only 35 minutes to drive to the trailhead. There are public bathrooms, Safeway, Starbucks, and many gas stations, so that is not too bad with our camping experience. If you’ve never been to the area, I recommend booking your hotel room or Airbnb ahead of time in Leavenworth or Wenatchee since there might be limited capacity due to COVID.
Location: Central Cascades, Leavenworth Area.
Land manager: Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forests, Alpine Lakes Wilderness.
Northwest Forest Pass required. Day Pass and ePass: $5/car or America the Beautiful Pass works, too.
I have both Discover that covers State Parks (some trails and parking to go fishing) and America the Beautiful Annual Pass that covers Federal lands like National Parks and National Forests. There is a shell-fish license in which we’ll have to get once crab, oyster, and clam season is here. I know all of these are a lot, but if you want to live the most fun PNW life, it’s absolutely worth it!
Distance: 9 mi., round trip, 6+ hours
Elevation Gain: 1,830 feet
Dogs are not allowed.
I get a lot of questions about the clothes I wear and especially hiking shoes, and I have written a post about Day Hiking Essentials from Head to Toes and read HERE to get a glimpse of what I wear when I’m out hiking and exploring. Also, read my HIKE WASHINGTON blog series, HERE. As always, if you’ve never hiked in The Alpine Lakes Wilderness area before, definitely hike Colchuck first. Stop by Leavenworth for beers and brats and browse some local shops there if you have some daylight left. It’s a tradition that I’ve been doing for the past 3 years every time I make a trip out here in the Leavenworth area.
Read my pro tips and enjoy my photos below.
Thank you for being here. Be safe and have fun!