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Snow Lakes Trail #1553

Difficult
 4.4 (8)

A beautiful and steep trail with enchanting rewards.


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Map Key

11.4

Miles

18.3

KM

77%

Runnable

7,081' 2,158 m

High

1,317' 402 m

Low

5,957' 1,816 m

Up

196' 60 m

Down

10%

Avg Grade (6°)

48%

Max Grade (26°)

Dogs No Dogs

Features Lake · River/Creek · Swimming · Views · Wildflowers · Wildlife

A Northwest Forest Pass is required for parking here.

Backcountry camping is available by permit only from June 15 - October 15. Permits can be obtained via a lottery that opens in February. A limited number of same-day permits are given out at the Leavenworth Ranger station, usually at 7 am.

Description

This trail is within Alpine Lakes Wilderness. The Snow Lakes Trail is 12.0 miles long, gains 6500 feet of elevation, and is designated for foot traffic only.

The trail begins at the Snow Lakes Trailhead, crossing a large bridge over Icicle Creek, then immediately starts to switchback up the rocky canyon. There is little tree cover or water for the first few miles. At around the 2 mile mark you'll be directly across from "Snow Creek Wall". During the warmer months, you are sure to see rock climbers scaling this 800 ft rock. From here, you'll get close to Snow Creek on the right and continue to switchback up through the forest.

The trail climbs more steeply across an old landslide path, and heads into denser forest, leveling out and opening up at Nada Lake, which is about 5.6 miles from the trailhead. There are many well-established campsites on the east shore of Nada Lake, and the trail continues to the southeast end of the lake.

It then switchbacks up over a large talus and scree slope, climbing 1.7 miles until it reaches Lower Snow Lake, where there are several well-marked campsites. The trail goes over the old dam between Upper and Lower Snow Lakes. Your feet will get wet when crossing over this dam.

The trail continues for 1.5 miles along the south shore of Upper Snow Lake where there are dozens of clear campsites. After the head of Upper Snow Lake, the trail is very rugged. The path switchbacks up steeply: parts of it cut through dense forest, where gnarled roots grow in the middle of the trail, and sections of it cross precipitous granite outcroppings that can be very slick if it is raining. The trail reaches Lake Viviane after about 1 mile of steep uphill scrambling, and there are several lovely campsites here with breathtaking views of the valley below and the surrounding peaks, including the impressive Prusik Peak.

A short, steep climb along the north-facing granite cliff, and the trail passes Leprechaun Lake, then continues less steeplythough no less ruggedlypast Sprite Pond and around the east side of Perfection Lake.

At the head of Perfection Lake, the Snow Lake Trail ends and becomes Colchuck Lake Trail #1599A, which continues through the Upper Enchantments. Please be advised: while heavily-trafficked, the trail beyond Upper Snow Lake to the Core Enchantments is a primitive route marked with rock cairns, and is recommended only for experienced users. You can also head north here and head up the .7 miles to Prusik Pass.

Flora & Fauna

Wildflowers are prevalent throughout this region. Be on the lookout for mountain goats. They crave salt so please urinate in backcountry toilets when possible. When toilets are unavailable, please urinate on rocks, otherwise the mountain goats will tear up the ground and vegetation.

Contacts

Shared By:

ChewiePDX with improvements by Jessie Morris

Trail Ratings

  4.4 from 8 votes

#5603

Overall
  4.4 from 8 votes
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Trail Rankings

#239

in Washington

#5,603

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6,832 Since Sep 29, 2015
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Photos

Gnome Tarn, looking toward Mount Prusik.
Dec 19, 2015 near Leavenw…, WA
Sunrise Over Prusik Peak
Feb 19, 2019 near Leavenw…, WA
Lake Viviane after a long and hard climb.
Nov 12, 2015 near Leavenw…, WA
Sunset at Upper Snow Lake campground
Jul 31, 2015 near Leavenw…, WA
The incredible Lake Viviane in The Enchantments, looking away from Dragontail Peak.
May 26, 2016 near Leavenw…, WA
Prusik Peak as seen from Lake Viviane.
Nov 12, 2015 near Leavenw…, WA

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Check-Ins

Jun 17, 2020
Chris H
A steep, challenging run with beautiful payoff! 11.4mi
Oct 10, 2017
Matt Blake
Hike/ run with Dixie