Bottom line: Hikes longer than 15 miles and/or more than 4000 feet of elevation gain are good training hikes for through-hiking the Enchantment Basin.
Training for an Enchantments thru hike is a great excuse to explore some of the region’s more challenging day hikes. Look for trails that will test your endurance and stamina.
What regional hikes are good training hikes for an enchantment through hike ?
If you live in the Puget sound region, you have many great options to choose from close to home. Any of these is a good simulation of day hiking through the Enchantments:
Mount Si, of course, is a good training hike for any alpine adventure. It’s not long but it gains elevation similar to Aasgard Pass. Make it a loop and take in Mount Tenerife as well.
Mailbox Peak is a perennial favorite with local hikers. There’s actually a mailbox at the top, and it’s a serious workout to check the mail!
If you live in the South Sound region, head for Mount Rainier National Park. Camp Muir, Spray Park or Indian Henry’s Hunting Ground are beautiful hikes, and there are many other options once you are in the park.
“We trained for it but nothing could really prepare you for the variety of climbing and hiking you do in this trek.” –Kate, thru hiker 2022.
It’s hard to find a training hike that will prepare you for ascending via the Snow Lakes route, which gains 6000 feet by the time you start down Aasgard Pass. When I went up that way in 2019, it felt like I’d never reach the high point. Look to Washington’s volcanoes for good training options.
Be sure you’re training muscles for the uphill and the downhill. Descending from Lake Viviane to Snow Lakes is arduous if you’re not fit for it.
How can you know trails are comparable? I use a “units” method of calculating equivalency between trails. Each mile is one unit, and each 1,000 feet of elevation gain is one unit. I add them together and I have the number of units for that trail. The Enchantments (starting at Stuart Lake trailhead) is about 18 miles and 4,400 feet of gain. That’s 22.4 units.
By comparison, Mailbox Peak is 8 miles and 4,000 feet, which is 12 units.
I don’t count downhill elevation as units, only the miles — but I add time for long steep descents.
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