Any way you look at it, Enchantment Basin in popular Alpine Lakes Wilderness is a tough place to reach. Barriers include the natural (elevation gains of 4,000 to 6,000 feet in a few miles) and the man-made (make permit reservations months in advance). But then, the best things in life rarely come easily.
Jagged peaks of clean granite embrace a chain of about one dozen lakes. The lowest of the lakes occupy a sylvan niche amid ancient groves of subalpine larch and whitebark pine. The scenery at the upper lakes is quite different. A rocky moonscape creates the feeling that you're standing on a plateau in the sky.
Midweek permits are easier to come by than weekend ones, as are permits for spectacular Colchuck Lake just outside Enchantment Basin. The lake makes a good basecamp for forays into the basin.
Where: 130 miles east of Seattle. The Snow Creek and Colchuck Lake trailheads are 4 miles and 12 miles, respectively, west of Leavenworth on Icicle Creek Road.
Maps:The Enchantments, #209S ($3.60, Green Trails, 206-546-6277; www.greentrails.com).
Trail Info: Wenatchee National Forest, (509) 548-6977.