This “shortcut” to the Enchantments Core Zone refers only to mileage. As far as miles per hour goes, Aasgard may be one of the slowest hikes you attempt. Achieving the pass is a thigh-burning, chest-bursting, eye-popping endeavor that offers as many extraordinary views as beads of sweat that will fall from your brow as you ascend nearly 2000 feet in just three-quarters of a mile.
From Colchuck Lake, a trail has been tramped out by the hundreds of feet that head up and over Aasgard Pass each year. While it’s relatively evident to those familiar with route-finding, this is not the trail for folks new to hiking, no matter your level of fitness. Seasonal hazards exist, including streams that melt the snow out from the bottom up, and you’ll need route-finding experience, agility, and excellent balance. Those lucky enough to score a permit for the Core Zone should consider these factors when you’re thinking about heading in over Aasgard Pass for an overnight. While it may be considerably shorter mileage-wise, the trail up Aasgard can be treacherous if your center of balance is compromised by a pack loaded with overnight gear.
Rock-hopping around the head of Colchuck Lake gives way to a trail with a staircase-like grade. Further on, sections of scrambling are required to ultimately access the coveted Core Zone. The pass viewed from the lake is not the real top of the pass but instead a false summit, with even more elevation gain to be had before gaining the pass.
But once you’re atop the pass, the striped rocks, gleaming snow, jagged peaks, and icy lakes that lie before you make it seem like you’re in another world--even on another planet. The basin is so huge that other hikers seem like little ants below you at Isolation Lake, and sound is quickly absorbed into the air around you, giving the impression of solitude despite the fact that you’re probably sharing the basin with at least a few other people. At 7800 feet, it seems like you’re on top of the world, though Dragontail Peak rises above to the west and a large ridgeline looms overhead to the east.
WTA Pro Tip: Many people attempt the Enchantments as a one-day traverse, departing from the Lake Stuart trailhead and making the Snow Lakes trailhead their destination. If this is your goal, leave early! Hiking up Aasgard Pass is tiring, but doing so in the heat of the day (between 11am and 3pm) is even worse, and once you arrive at the pass, you still have 15 miles of trail to negotiate before arriving at Snow Lake trailhead. The sooner you can get Aasgard over with, the more time you’ll have to enjoy your route out of this singular landscape.
- 12.2 miles, roundtrip
- Elevation Gain
- 4,400 feet
- Highest Point
- 7,800 feet
Hiking Aasgard Pass
Map & Directions
Co-ordinates: 47.5279, -120.8207 Open in Google Maps