ARE YOU LOOKING TO THRU HIKE THE ENCHANTMENTS IN ONE DAY BUT ARE WORRIED WHAT IT WILL BE LIKE? LUCKILY, WE DID ALL THE HARD WORK FOR YOU - AND WROTE THIS SUPER HELPFUL PERSONAL GUIDE. EXPLORE IT ALL BELOW.
Often considered the Crown Jewel of Hiking Trails in Washington State (by the Washington Trails Association at least), the Enchantments are often very high on every outdoorsman and women's bucket list. We ended up hearing about the Enchantments from a friend of ours after planting ourselves in the state for a couple of summer months. Somehow this famously beautiful trail had never hit our radar - but after doing a quick Google search and checking it out on Alltrails we decided it must be pushed to the top our hiking list.
The only problem? Permits for backpacking the trail were almost 100% unavailable (the permit lottery opens in February). Feeling slightly deflated, we instead started looking at whether we could just do the whole trail in one day - aka thru hike it.
Now, nowhere did we read that the Enchantments trail was in any shape or form easy. In fact, every article talked about the large elevation gain, the long distance and the grueling climb over Aasgard Pass. But we weren't deterred. So we looked at our calendars, did a bit of planning, and headed over to the trailhead to see what it was really like to thru-hike the Enchantments in one day.
Below is hopefully everything you need to know about thru-hiking the entire Enchantments trail in one day - including the actual trail data, specific distances to major points of interest and helpful tips on trail safety and what to bring with you.
SOME FACTS ABOUT THE ENCHANTMENTS
| The trail is located in the Alpine Lakes Wilderness and is part of the large Okanogan–Wenatchee National Forest (read about another fantastic trail in this region here).
| There are 700 lakes and ponds in the Enchantments area; including, such popular ones as Colchuk, Inspiration and Isolation.
| Similarly, the area is home to the peaks of Cashmere Crags - which rate among some of the best rock-climbing sites in the entire western United States.
| The area was first explored by Europeans in the early 1900s. It got its name after one of those men wrote of the area, "It was an enchanting scene. I named the group Enchantment Lakes." Though of course Native American tribes had traveled through and lived in the area loooong before any Europeans arrived.
| Dogs are banned from the area by the Forest Service because they hoped their lack of presence would help the local mountain goat and ptarmigan populations to recover (it did).
MAP OF THE ENCHANTMENTS TRAIL
CAN YOU THRU-HIKE THE ENCHANTMENTS IN ONE DAY?
Yes, you totally can! But, be prepared for a long hard day on the trail.
At roughly 20 miles one-way, the Enchantments trail should definitely not to be underestimated. We did the whole thru-hike in one day and it took us about 12 hours to go from Stuart Lake Trailhead to Snow Lake Trailhead. This did include taking a couple of short snack breaks, a swimming break in one of the alpine lakes and then a longer lunch break, so if you are really pushing it and stopping less, you can definitely do the whole thru-hike in less time.
Below is a quick breakdown of the entire Enchantments trail, including its elevation profile.
THE ENCHANTMENTS TRAIL BREAKDOWN
🏞 ELEVATION GAIN: around 5,000 feet of elevation gain across the entire 20-mile length of the trail; this includes climbing 1,900 feet in less than a mile up and over Aasgard Pass.
❔ GOOD TO KNOW: most people who thru-hike the entire Enchantments will start at the Stuart Lake Trailhead and end at the Snow Lake Trailhead. This is mostly due to the fact that by going counter-clockwise, you drop your elevation gain by 2,600 feet.
🕝 TIME NEEDED: 11 - 15 hours depending on how fast you are hiking and how many stops you take. It took us almost exactly 12 hours from point to point, although this included a quick swim break in one of the lakes and a couple of snack/lunch breaks. Make sure to pack plenty of food and the proper gear to ensure you enjoy (almost) every second of it. But also be prepared to still be sore the next day!
🥾 DIFFICULTY: quite tough, even strenuous (likely an 8/10). It is a long hike to do in one day so definitely be prepared for a full day of hiking. Likewise, there is a fair amount of elevation gain overall.