More than 700 lakes and mountain ponds dot the glacier-carved terrain of this wilderness. Tree covered valleys give way to rocky ridges and rugged peaks along the crest of the Cascades. Many peaks and slopes are permanently cloaked in snowfields. From wet forests of Douglas fir, cedar, and an understory of salal and berries, to firs and mountain hemlock, the landscape opens up to expansive meadows matted with low growth and ends with dry forestland of ponderosa pine and grasses.
The Enchantment Lakes area boasts the Cashmere Crags, which rate among the best rock-climbing sites in the western United States. Some of the names may cause you to think twice before heading up: Bloody Tower, Cruel Thumb, Cynical Pinnacle or Crocodile Fang. Dozens of solid granite spires offer routes from the low Class 5s to 5.11 and faces as long as 1,500 feet.
Congress designated the Alpine Lakes Wilderness in 1976 with a total of 362,789 acres, 117,862 in the Mt. Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest. Prior to designation, aggressive mining and logging operations punched numerous access roads into the area, creating a wildly irregular boundary to this popular area.