On U.S. Route 2 at Leavenworth, Washington, turn right from eastbound/left from westbound onto Icicle Road
Proceed 8.30 miles/13.40 km
Turn left onto Forest Road 7601 (sometimes called Eightmile Road), signed for Bridge Creek Campground, Eightmile Trailhead, Stuart Lake Trailhead, and Forest Road 7601 (do not be confused by signage for the Eightmile Campground approximately one mile/1.60 km earlier)
Lake Stuart lies within the Stuart Range that forms the spine of the scenic clutch of peaks and lakes known as the Enchantments. Outside of the Enchantments’ core zone, Lake Stuart nevertheless offers views of the Stuart Range’s characteristically jagged peaks with more solitude than one will find in the more popular areas. Although camping in the Enchantments Permit Area (which includes Lake Stuart) is limited and available only by lottery, day hiking is permitted with the standard Northwest Forest Pass. At 9.00 miles/14.50 km round-trip with a relatively moderate grade, the trail to Lake Stuart is easily completed as a day hike.
The trail passes through mostly coniferous forest, ranging from moist thickets to the drier, almost scrub-like woodland typical of the east slopes of the Cascades. Evidence of past forest fires is occasionally visible along the trail’s lower portion. The varied woodland and occasional meadows support a broad array of small spring and summer wildflowers that reveal themselves to the watchful hiker. In autumn, the mostly deciduous plants of the under- and middlestory light the trailside with vibrant hues, whilst hitherto undistinguished larches, cottonwoods, and aspens suddenly blazon the upper mountainsides with gold. Tracking first Mountaineer Creek and then its unnamed tributary that flows from Lake Stuart, the trail is seldom far from the rush of tumbling waters. A side trail to Colchuck Lake branches from the main trail approximately 2.00 miles/3.20 km from the trailhead. Given Colchuck Lake’s popularity and position as a portal to the core Enchantments zone, expect to encounter other hikers periodically up to the side trail; however, solitude will prevail in the wilds beyond. Throughout, no vehicle or other human-made noise mars the wilderness tranquility.