Colchuck Lake Hike is easily one of the best lake hikes in Washington. It’s categorized as hard, but I think it’s a fun challenging one to do with friends, especially in the summer and fall (if you’re a fan of larches!). The lake water is so clear, and its blue aquamarine color is mesmerizing. It takes me and my friends about 6 – 7 hours to finish the entire hike and 6 hours driving from Seattle and back home. It is intense and exhausting but well worth the effort, definitely on my top 10 hikes that I’ve ever done in Washington.
Location: Central Cascades, Leavenworth Area.
Length: 8 miles, roundtrip
Elevation gain: 2280 ft. Highest Point: 5580 ft.
Parking Pass/Entry Fee: Northwest Forest Pass. There are about 20-30 cars in the main parking lot, and the rest has to be parked on the right side of the road and hike in. Overnight stays are by permit only from May 15th – October 31st. Toilet available is available in the lot.
Check the review section on WTA, here, for road and trail conditions, how to get to the right trailhead, bug warning, bear or wild animal warning, additional photos, and more.
Colchuck Lake trail is rated as hard, so I’d recommend planning your commute, food, and lodging if necessary.
- Plan ahead. If you commute from Seattle, it takes 3 hours to get to the trailhead. The best is to stay around the area the night before, but a day trip is totally doable, too!
- Download the Google map area because there is no wifi signal there.
- It’s a very popular trail, so hike early and opt to hike midweek if you can.
- Pack at least 3 bottles of water per person and lots of snacks since it’s a long hike.
- Look for sign Colchuck Lake Trail #1599 and make sure to turn LEFT at the fork since going straight will lead you to Stuart Lake. Many people don’t pay close attention to the signs and get lost this way!
- If you have time, I highly recommend making a stop at Leavenworth for some brats and beers. It’s a cute German town nestled in the Cascade Mountain Range.
Free car camping spot: There’s a free public parking lot in Leavenworth if you plan to arrive a day early and hit the trailhead early. I’ve stayed in my car overnight there once, and there are some cars and RVs with trailers parking there as well.
- Rules: Overnight parking restricted to 1 in 7 day period. No parking of unattached trailer.
- There is a public bathroom located a block or two down the road, but they might be closed due to COVID. I suggest checking the public bathroom (810 Commercial St, Leavenworth, WA 98826) in Leavenworth or go inside the Safeway or gas station nearby.
Once at the trail, you’d notice some campers packing ropes and camping gears passing through, it’s possible that they’ve gotten their camping pass a year in advance to hike the Enchantments. It’s one of my goals to hike through the Enchantment, and I hope to crush it soon!
Looking for more hiking inspiration? Check out more Washing hikes that I’ve done.