Located in the Enchantments region of Washington State, Aasgard Pass is an impressive mountain pass that provides stunning views of jagged peaks and glacial valleys. The pass sits between two prominent peaks, Dragontail Peak (which can be seen towering above Colchuck Lake) and a rock formation known as the Spineless Prow.
The pass can be accessed via a strenuous but rewarding hike. Aasgard Pass has become a popular destination for hikers looking to challenge themselves and experience the stunning beauty of the Enchantments. The pass is also considered a gateway to the Enchantments' upper basin, offering a unique perspective of the breathtaking alpine environment.
Whether you're looking to summit Little Annapurna, Colchuck Peak, Dragontail Peak, Prusik Peak, or just take in the views, a hike to Aasgard Pass is an experience that should not be missed.
You can also see Aasgard Pass from Colchuck Lake. So, if you want to stop your hike there and avoid another 2,000' in elevation gain, you can do that as well.
What You Need to Know
Here are the basics of what you need to know before hiking to Aasgard Pass:
Permit: Yes, a Northwest Forest Permit is required.
Trailhead: Stuart Lake Trailhead
Dogs: No, dogs are not allowed in Alpine Lakes Wilderness
Elevation: Aasgard Pass is at an elevation of 7,841′.
What is the best time to visit? Between June and October.
Getting to the Trailhead
To get to the Stuart Lake Trailhead, where you'll begin your hike to Aasgard pass, take Icicle Road from Leavenworth for about nine miles. The road starts out very well maintained, but as you go further into the canyon, it degrades. You'll need to drive around a few potholes and make sure to stick to your side of the road because the lines disappear.
The road is usually in the best shape after they fill in potholes at the end of winter. you'll pass by the Snow Lakes Trailhead on the left side of the road, where many hikers will park to hike into the Enchantments. But it's much, much, much faster to take the Stuart Lake Trailhead to Aasgard Pass.
Forest Service Road 7601 is on your left (look for a sign on the right side of the road). Take this less-than-well-maintained road up to the Stuart Lake Trailhead. You'll need to drive slowly as the road is usually in very bad (surprisingly bad considering how popular the trailhead is) condition. You'll pass by a campsite and another lower trailhead. Keep going until you dead end at the large parking lot, undoubtedly full of Enchantment hikers!
Hiking to Aasgard Pass
The hike to Aasgard Pass in the Enchantments region of Washington State is a stunning journey. Depending on your group and fitness, the hike typically takes six to eight hours and is approximately 8 miles long. As you ascend, you'll be rewarded with beautiful views of Washington peaks and, eventually, of Colchuck Lake from above.
Here is everything you need to know about hiking to Aasgard Pass:
At Stuart Lake Trailhead
When you get to the dead-end parking lot, walk to the far side of the parking lot to reach the trailhead. It's also there that you can fill out a Northwest Forest Pass day pass ($5!). Make sure to place the right part of the pass in your car before you leave. The trail starts heading slightly uphill immediately before crossing over little streams and weaving through the trees. It's a pretty easy start to what is a very long trail.
Reaching the Intersection
You'll cross a really beautiful wooden bridge that provides a great view of Mountaineer Creek running below. You'll be along the left side of the creek for a good portion of this hike. In only a few miles, you'll reach an intersection where you can go left or right. You want to go left. Unless that is, you are hiking to Stuart Lake or Horseshoe Lake, both of which are also great day trips.
The Boulder Field
Cross a log bridge and enjoy the growing views of the valley. After another bridge, you'll cross a creek and see a steep uphill boulder section in front of you. Luckily, you don't need to go straight up. Stay low, and you'll stay on the main trail that circumvents most of the boulders.
The Final Push to the Lake
The final push to the lake includes some of the best views you've seen so far. You'll walk up some amazing granite slabs and see out into Icicle Canyon. A few more switchbacks, and you'll level out just above Colchuck Lake.
The lake is the most popular destination in the region, and most hikers stop here before turning around and reversing the above directions. It'll take you a total of 9 miles and around 2,200 feet of gain to do the entire Colchuck Lake hike.
Getting to Aasgard Pass
If you look across the lake, you'll see Dragontail Peak, the largest, most obvious mountain in view. To the right of that is a large gully filled with snow and another mountain, Colchuck Peak. To the left of Dragontail is another gully that, in summer, should be mostly free of snow. That's where the trail ascends to Aasgard Pass.
From the lake, go right around the lake to the far side. This is going to require some boulder-hoping. keep your eyes peeled for cairns to guide you and mountain goats to entertain you as you hike.
Climbing to Aasgard Pass
if the top of Aasgard Pass is your destination, this is the final part of your hike. It's also the hardest. You'll stick to the left side of the large gully to the left of Dragontail Peak.
There is a trail, but, at times, it disappears, so keep your eyes peeled for more cairns and hikers in the distance. Because this area is so popular, it's usually easy to play follow the leader and find the right path.
The destination is the top of the ridge far above you. It'll take about 2 hours (for most people) to reach the top because of the 2,000' of elevation gain you have to climb. There are no flat sections and few places where you can find a truly comfortable rest. There are also loose rocks, so make sure you pay attention to where you're stepping and don't follow too closely behind the person in front of you.
The Summit of Aasgard Pass
At the top of the pass, you'll be treated to some truly breathtaking views of the Enchantments upper basin. This includes the other side of Dragontail Peak and Little Annapurna in the distance (it's the rounded mountain that, from this angle), is less than impressive. But, in reality, it's one of the tallest mountains in Washington.
The lakes around you include: Inspiration Lake, Perfection Lake, Isolation Lake, and Tranquil Lake. There are also some small unnamed lakes. There are a few camp spots in this area, but you can not camp in the Enchantments without a permit. These are only distributed based on the winners of a lottery drawing that happens every year.
You'll also be able to look across the lakes and snow below you to Mclellan Peak.
The Return Journey
To finish your hike, you'll need to turn around and reverse everything you just did. Unless that is, your plan is to hike the entire Enchantments and exit at the Snow Lakes Trailhead. If this is the case, you'll need to have another car or alternative means of transportation ready at Snow Lakes to take you back to Stuart Lakes Trailhead to retrieve the other vehicle.
The entire thru-hike is 20.5 miles and takes most people more than 12 hours to complete.
What to Bring
When hiking to Aasgard Pass in the Enchantments, it’s important to come prepared with all the right gear. Even if you’re only planning on a day hike, make sure to bring the essentials. Here are some essential items you should always have when embarking on a hike of any kind:
Hiking in the Summer
- Water and water bottle – bring more than enough as dehydration is a real risk in warm weather.
- Sunscreen – you’ll be exposed to the sun for long periods of time so use SPF 30 or higher.
- Appropriate shoes – make sure your shoes are comfortable, sturdy and supportive.
- Hat – to protect you from the sun and other elements.
- Snacks – energy bars, nuts and seeds are a great source of nutrition and energy when on the trail.
- Map and compass – know where you’re going and how to get back.
- Extra layers – even if it’s warm during the day, temperatures can drop drastically at night.
- Flashlight – for navigation after dark.
- Emergency kit – this should include a whistle, first aid kit, matches, fire starter and tinder.
Hiking in the Winter
- Water and water bottle
- Appropriate winter clothing – this includes warm layers, waterproof outerwear, hats, gloves, boots, etc.
- Snowshoes or crampons – depending on the amount of snow and ice present, these may be necessary to make progress up the trail.
- Flashlight/headlamp – visibility is much lower in the winter months so make sure you have one of these with you.
- Emergency kit – this should include an emergency shelter, extra layers, food, a flashlight, and matches.
- Gaiters – these are used to keep your feet and legs warm and dry in cold conditions.
- Skis/snowboard – for those looking for more adventure on their trip to Aasgard Pass in the Enchantments.