Colchuck Lake

Stuart Lake

Trail No. 1599

MAY 31, 2008  Winter is coming to an end in the mountains at last, and when I read a trip report that said the trail to Colchuck Lake was free of snow to the lake, I headed east to Leavenworth to see it for myself.  The sun was shining when I left the Stuart Lake trailhead, and Mountaineer Creek was running high and fast.   The woods on the eastern slopes of the Cascades have a spicy scent that I always wish I could save in a bottle, and on this hike I managed to capture a little of that scent on my hands and clothes as I climbed over and crawled under several small trees that had fallen across the trail.  This is one of my favorite areas, so I decided to hike to both lakes this trip. 

Colchuck Lake was partially thawed and picture perfect.  This is a glacier-fed lake, and the high color of the water contrasted beautifully with the pure white of the slushy ice covering it.  The surrounding mountains and trees were reflected in the water wherever the lake was thawed.  I ate lunch with a front seat view of Dragontail Peak and Aasgard Pass before heading back down the trail. 

The trail to Stuart Lake was wet and muddy, and the meadows were flooded with water instead of wildflowers.   But the views of the surrounding peaks are breathtaking and leave little room for improvement.  The waterfall was full and furious, and shortly after ascending the switchbacks, the trail was covered with snow the rest of the way to the lake.  The beautiful aspen grove took a heavy hit this winter, but none of these trees blew down across the trail.  The trails at the lake were covered by standing water, so I scrambled up on a boulder to enjoy the view of Stuart Mountain towering over a mostly frozen Stuart Lake.

13.5 miles

3000' elevation gain

Colchuck Lake

 

Stuart Lake