Backpacking The Enchantments Eightmile and Caroline Zone-Alpine Lakes Wilderness

Hiking the Enchantments Eightmile and Caroline Zone.  The rugged and beautiful Enchantment Permit Area is contained within the Alpine Lakes Wilderness in the Cascade Mountains of Washington State.

The limited entry overnight permit season for the Enchantment Permit Area is to help manage increased visitor use and resulting resource damage at this popular destination.  Permits for overnight stays are required from May 15 through October 31.

Due to the overwhelming popularity of this unique area, all overnight visitors must obtain a limited entry FEE permit for trips planned between May 15 and October 31. Demand for overnight permits far exceeds the number available, therefore advance reservations are highly recommended. A pre-season lottery is held in February through early March of each year to allocate 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.

This is THE backpacking destination in the state of Washington. Wander through soft tundra meadows, glacial-cirque lakes, crystal clear trickling streams, and impossible granite rock formations in the heart of the Alpine Lakes Wilderness. It will make you feel like you're in a completely different part of the world.

This area is thought to be discovered by A.H. Sylvester, who was originally a topographer for the USGS but went on to supervise Wenatchee National Forest starting in 1908. Climbers didn't start enjoying this area for recreation until the late 1940's. [100 Hikes in Washington's Alpine Lakes (1st ed.), Spring, Ira; Manning, Harvey, 1993] And the permit system, designed to protect the area from destructive humans, was not put in place until 1981. The big question is: which side to enter from? The Snow Lake entrance is longer, more gradual, and less scenic. The Colchuck Lake entrance is shorter and steeper (maybe even slippery and dangerous), but Colchuck Lake is beautiful. The traditional entrance would be Snow Lake because this side brings you through the Enchantments "in order," meaning you start in the Lower Enchantments and work your way up to the Upper Enchantments. It's your choice, but this guide is written assuming you're hiking in from Snow Lake, all the way through the Enchantments, and out the Colchuck Lake side. The permit lottery system might actually decide this for you based on what zones you're allowed to camp in! Some individuals more on the "hard" end of the spectrum that will do this entire through-hike in one day. If you have a light pack, it's possible, but bring a headlamp and enough food and gear to spend the night if you have to. No fires or dogs up here. But there will be enough scenery to keep you company.

Equipment:
Kelty Salida 4 Tent
REI Flash 62 Men's Pack
REI Flash 52 Women's Pack
Big Agnes Oak Street Insulated Air Pads
Steripen
Jetboil
Mountain House
Cascade Trekking Poles
Kelty Galactica Down Sleeping Bags
REI Stuff Sack/Pillow
Garmin 625stc GPS
Snow Peak Titanium Pot



Backpacking the Northwest
Washington State
Alpine Lakes Wilderness

Nature Calls Backpacking