Stuart Lake

Trail No. 1599


JUNE 7, 2008  A Mountaineers CHS hike.  We left rainy Seattle behind us as we headed to sunny Leavenworth for this hike to Stuart Lake.  The first surprise of the day was how much conditions had changed since I hiked this trail a week earlier. The trail was free of standing water today, wildflowers were starting to bloom, and Stuart Lake was melted out.

This trail travels through woods and meadows, past peaks and streams, and up through a grove of quaking aspen trees on its way to pretty Stuart Lake.    It doesn't matter how many times I hike it, I am always amazed by the views.   We were joined at our lunch spot by a pair of aggressive gray jays that perched in nearby trees and dive-bombed us periodically.  They called back and forth to each other—one high and one low—and they sounded like a pair of kids playing Marco Polo.  Mount Stuart peaked out from beneath a thick cover of clouds, and the wind was cold and sharp.  We didn’t linger over lunch at the lake this trip. 

A steady stream of climbers and backpackers passed us on our hike out.  They were taking advantage of one of the final permit-free weekends to camp in the Enchantments zone, and it looked as though Colchuck Lake was going to have a full house for the night.  Whichever lake they were headed to, though, I envied them.   

We stopped at the 59er Diner, famous for its milkshakes, for our after-hike meal.  This was a gregarious group, the food was good and the conversation was lively.  We had enjoyed beautiful weather, beautiful scenery, and a great hike this day, but even great days eventually come to an end.  It was raining in Seattle when we got home. 

 10 miles roundtrip

1800’ elevation gain