The Alpine Lakes Wilderness is a 614-sq-mile protected area of rough, crenellated mountains, glacier-gouged valleys, and – as the name implies – gorgeous sapphire lakes (more than 700 of them, in fact).
Crisscrossed by trails and popularly accessed from the Icicle Canyon Rd west of Leavenworth, the wilderness offers a handful of easy day hikes along with plenty of more substantial backcountry jaunts that require good fitness, shrewd forward planning and a decent pair of walking boots.
The area's close proximity to Seattle makes this former logging and mining region popular with hikers; the Enchantment Lakes area requires a $5 permit in summer (ask at Leavenworth Ranger Station). Good entry points are from Icicle Rd (USFS Rd 7600) off Hwy 2 and on a dirt road just north of Tumwater campground on US 2.
The Icicle Gorge Trail is the most accessible hike here, an easy 3.6-mile river loop that gives you an enticing taste of what this pristine wilderness is all about. Other trailheads dot Icicle Rd and lead off into a network of popular trails. Pick up a leaflet at Leavenworth Chamber of Commerce & Visitor Center.