Lake Stuart, Stuart Lake Trailhead, Seattle - Alpine Lakes Wilderness - Snoqualmie Pass - Central Cascades, Washington

Lake Stuart - 10.0 miles

Stuart Lake Trailhead

Lake Stuart (5,064') in the Alpine Lakes Wilderness

Lake Stuart (5,064') in the Alpine Lakes Wilderness

Round-Trip Length: 10.0 miles
Start-End Elevation: 3,380' – 5,064' (5,087' max elevation)
Elevation Change: +1,684’ net elevation gain (+2,107' total roundtrip elevation gain)
Skill Level: Moderate
Dogs Allowed: No
Bikes Allowed: No
Horses Allowed: Yes
Related Trails:

Lake Stuart - 10.0 Miles Round-Trip

Lake Stuart (5,064') is located 5.0 miles from Stuart Lake Trailhead in the Alpine Lakes Wilderness. It occupies a photogenic basin below Mount Stuart (9,415') and a line of craggy peaks in the Stuart Range and Enchantments Lakes Basin.

Trail Map | Photo Gallery

The Stuart Lake Trail follows Mountaineer Creek through diverse mid-elevation and subalpine forests before opening at the lake. Grades are generally moderate, though lengthy sections are rough and rooted. The hike is suitable for active families with older children.

Expect crowds on summer weekends and along the first 2.65 miles, which is shared by those heading to Colchuk Lake and the Enchantment Core.

Lake Stuart falls within the Enchantment Permit Area, and specific rules and permits apply for day and overnight use. Camping permits are limited. See below for important details.

Note: A Recreation Pass or Fee is required to access this trailhead. Dogs are not permitted on trails to Lake Stuart and Colchuk Lake:

The Stuart Lake Trail (#1599) heads SW to the Alpine Lakes Wilderness Boundary (.3 miles) and rises gently through stands of hemlock, silver fir and a few boggy areas of cedar and devil's club. Huckleberries are abundant on these early stretches.

It crosses a side stream on a log bridge (1.2 miles : 3,701') to a split for hikers and equestrians (1.6 miles : 3,800'). Take the left fork and cross Mountaineer Creek on a footbridge (1.8 miles); the right fork leads to a creek ford for horses and rejoins the main stem shortly after.

The trail passes a spur on the left for a campsite atop a large, flat boulder with up-valley views (2.0 miles : 3,990'), and gradually steepens on rugged, rooted tread to the Lake Stuart - Colchuk Lake Trail split (2.65 miles : 4,410'). Keep right.

The Stuart Lake Trail rises steadily beside Mountaineer Creek before moderating from 3.1 - 3.9 miles with expanding views up Mountaineer Creek, and across the distinguished summits of Colchuk, Argonaut, Sherpa and Mount Stuart.

Steeper grades resume past a small waterfall (4.35 miles : 4,710') on the final push to Lake Stuart (4.95 miles : 5,064'). Several campsites and a privy can be found along the north shore.

Social trails weave up the north side to the inlet and a large meadow just beyond, from which you may continue on a challenging cross-country route to Horseshoe Lake, Jack Lake or the base of Stuart Glacier.

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Interactive GPS Topo Map

Key GPS Coordinates - DATUM WGS84

  • N47 31.664 W120 49.254 — 0.0 miles: Stuart Lake Trailhead - 3,338'
  • N47 31.362 W120 49.398 — 0.5 miles: Riparian corridor following creek - 3,496'
  • N47 30.901 W120 49.612 — 1.2 miles: Cross stream - boggy areas - 3,701'
  • N47 30.665 W120 49.731 — 1.6 miles: Pass trail sign - cross footbridge - 3,803'
  • N47 30.518 W120 49.918 — 2.0 miles: Spur trail to campsite - stay straight - 3,991'
  • N47 30.313 W120 50.423 — 2.65 miles: Colchuk-Stuart Lake split - 4,412'
  • N47 30.186 W120 50.814 — 3.1 miles: Continue along Mountaineer Creek - 4,447'
  • N47 29.793 W120 51.893 — 4.25 miles: Gentle ascent - views of Stuart Range - 4,647'
  • N47 29.884 W120 52.533 — 5.0 miles: Lake Stuart - 5,064'

Worth Noting

  • This trail runs deep into the Mountaineer Creek basin, with easily attainable views of the Stuart Range peaks including Colchuk, Argonaut, Sherpa and Mount Stuart.
  • This is a great beginner/intermediate trail for families with older children looking to camp at an alpine lake in a spectacular setting.
  • This area is extremely popular and the first half of the trail is shared with hikers headed for Colchuk Lake or through-hiking the Enchantments Loop.

Camping and Backpacking Information

  • From October 16 – June 14, free unlimited permits are available for camping in the Enchantment Permit Area.

The Enchantment Permit Area is divided into five permit zones:

  • Core Enchantment Zone
  • Snow Lake Zone
  • Colchuck Lake Zone
  • Stuart Lake Zone
  • Eightmile/Caroline Permit Zone

Camping is restricted to the zone for which your permit is issued. The only exception is for the Core Enchantment Permit, which allows you to camp in any of the zones.

All visitors are welcome to day hike beyond their zone, meaning those with a Snow or Colchuck Zone Permit may also visit the Core Enchantments, but on a day-use only basis.

There are three methods of obtaining an overnight permit during the permit season:

  • Apply during the annual permit lottery.
  • Make a reservation online after the pre-season lottery.
  • Obtain a daily walk-in permit during the permit season

The Permit Lottery

  • A pre-season lottery is held in February through early March of each year to award the majority of permits.
  • Following the pre-season lottery, remaining permits are available on a first come, first served basis through the advance reservation system. A small number of permits are available on an unreserved daily walk-in basis at the Wenatchee Ranger Station in Leavenworth every morning during the permit season at 7:30 am (except Sundays).

Permit Fees, Rules and Restrictions

  • Permits are $5 per person, per day.
  • Permits are Non-Transferable.
  • Group Leaders cannot be changed.
  • Once a permit reservation is confirmed, no changes or additions may be made to the alternate group leader.
  • You must enter the permit area on the entry date shown on your permit.
  • You may camp only in the zone(s) indicated on your permit.
  • Maximum length of stay is 14 consecutive days. People may not exit and re-enter at a later date.

Violation of terms may result in a fine and/or revocation of the permit / early termination of your trip.

Camping Rules and Regulations

  • Group size is limited to 8 individuals or any combination of people and stock. All members of a permit group must camp together in one site.
  • Two (or more) groups on separate permits may not travel and/or camp together if the total number exceeds 8.
  • Groups must stay separate (minimum of 1 mile and 1 hour) and independent throughout their trip.
  • Campfires are prohibited above 5,000', and within 1/2 mile of all lakes and streams.
  • Camp only in established campsites.
  • Bathe and wash dishes at least 150-200' from lakes and streams.
  • Campfires are prohibited above 5,000 feet (including Stuart Lake) and within ¼ mile of all lakes.

Fishing Information

  • Fishing is permitted throughout the Enchantment Lakes Basin and in all related streams with a valid WA state fishing license.
  • Contact the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife for specific guidelines.

Sport | Commercial Licenses: 360.902.2434
Disability Licenses: 360.902.2460

Rules and Regulations

  • A valid Recreation Pass is required to access the Stuart Lake Trailhead. If you do not have a pass, there is a $5 day use fee (overnight use requires payment for two days).
  • In addition to the NW Forest Pass / Fee, a free day-use Wilderness Permit must be filled out at the trailhead and carried with you on the trail.
  • Dogs are not permitted in the Enchantment Lakes Permit Area, including Nada Lake, the Snow Lakes, all Enchantment lakes, Colchuck Lake and Stuart Lake.
  • Hiking and horseback riding are permitted on this trail (the Colchuk Lake trail that diverges from the Lake Stuart trail is hiker only).

Directions to Trailhead

Directions to Stuart Lake Trailhead:

The Stuart Lake Trailhead is located 12.2 miles from Highway 2 in Leavenworth.

From Highway 2 on the west end of town, turn south on Icicle Creek Road. Drive 8.5 miles to Bridge Creek Campground.

Turn left and drive past the campground, cross a bridge over Icicle Creek and continue past the Eightmile Lake Trailhead (which is 3 miles in).

Cross another bridge and continue .7 miles to the cul-de sac parking area and trailhead for Lake Stuart and Colchuck Lake. The lot fits 75 cars and has bathrooms.

Contact Information

Okanogan - Wenatchee National Forest | Wenatchee River Ranger District
600 Sherbourne St.
Leavenworth, WA 98826

Okanogan - Wenatchee National Forest | Headquarters
215 Melody Lane
Wenatchee, WA 98801

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