Hike Ancient Lakes

4 Miles Round Trip - Out-and-Back Trail

Ancient Lakes Trailhead - Search Nearby - Added by Mitch Pittman

Distance: 4 miles roundtrip. Minimal elevation gain. Dramatic cliffs and waterfalls. Wildlife spotting opportunities.

All around you, waterfalls pour over cliffs as you gaze upon colorful lakes. If you're lucky, a coyote scampers by through a patch of wildflowers – it's just another beautiful day in the Ancient Lakes basin, a gem tucked along the Columbia River Gorge in Central Washington.

From the parking lot, meander through a valley of sage brush under the hot sun until the whispers of waterfalls become roars. Soon, you will be peering into a basin of lakes. If you can fight the urge to jump in right away, make your way around to the waterfalls in the back of the valley.

For those who feel comfortable, scramble up the talus slope beside the waterfall to enter an upper valley for more solitude – and more waterfalls! But BE CAREFUL going off trail, because rattlesnakes are very active in the area.

Sunsets from Ancient Lakes are known to be spectacular. Another benefit of the location is it usually stays dry when the western side of the state is getting drenched.

If you're planning to backpack, check out this adventure.

Tags

Fishing
Photography
Running
Swimming
Hiking
Adult Beverages
Dog Friendly
Easy Parking
Family Friendly
Lake
Scenic
Waterfall
Wildlife
Swimming Hole

Details

4 Miles
Out-and-Back Trail

Stay Nearby

Ellensburg, Washington

Ellensburg KOA

Ellensburg, Washington

Yakima River Canyon Campgrounds

Cle Elum, Washington

Mineral Springs Group

Thorp, Washington

Taneum Cabin

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Reviews

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Overall rating: 

Randy Gordon

over 3 years ago

Spectacular place for sunset

We hit the trail just after 4:30 in order to give us just enough time to witness one of the many spectacular sunsets Central and Eastern Washington are renowned for. With an average yearly rain accumulation under 10 inches, Ancient Lakes in Quincy, WA has fairly moderate weather year-round. It was windy so don't forget a sweatshirt and shell! After climbing above the main waterfall overlooking the lakes and watching the sky burst into color, we found our way back via headlamp. A great evening to hit the trail!

Awesome desert adventure!

This is a great spot for when you're feeling those winter blues in Seattle and need some sunshine and sagebrush country. There are 12 miles of trail throughout the Ancient Lakes network, so you can expand your adventure if you want to. Definitely be wary of rattlesnakes, especially in the early morning or getting closer to sunset (when I came across one right in the middle of the path soaking up some warmth). This area also has Western poison ivy, so generally a good idea to stay on trail here. There are fantastic wildflowers here in the spring and a wildlife reserve where you can see lots of different bird species as you hike. Make sure you bring all the water you need for a day hike or overnight because all water in this area is irrigation runoff and not safe for drinking even after filtration. Discover Pass required here.

We hiked here on a Saturday in April and it was so crowded! There were at least three scout troops that backpacked in and were camping overnight in addition to all the other people who were there! We found a quiet place on the shore of the far lake opposite the waterfall to eat our lunch. We then hiked to the waterfall by way of the boulders and came across a rattlesnake (danger!). We didn't go outside the first three lake area to the area beyond the waterfall, but the area is still beautiful and worth the time.