Hike Ancient Lakes

    3.6
    4 miles  - Out-and-Back Trail

    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.

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

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    Reviews

    Rate this Adventure

    almost 2 years ago

    Ancient Lake

    Trail is in good condition. Did 4.8mi back in to Ancient Lake and the waterfall, then back out! Beautiful winter hike!

    almost 4 years ago

    Year round hiking

    South on Whitetrail Rd / Rd U, right on Rd 9 NW and continue on Ancient Lake Rd until you reach the parking area. I have explored the area in spring (March 2016) and winter (January 2017). Plenty of trail to explore throughout the area. There is an overlook over Dusty Lake and you are able to scramble to the top of the waterfall. In the winter, massive icicles form off the edges of the mesas and waterfalls.

    🥈 Contributor

    about 4 years ago

    Can be hard to find

    Lots of wide open spaces and beautiful canyon cliffs to explore, we wanted to go off trail to scramble every cliff and see every waterfall, but be mindful of LNT and enjoy this otherworldly place. Just know that there is a road that takes you to the south of the lakes area as well, putting you 4 or 5 miles past the main lakes and onto an open plain. We got quite turned around here, and without cell service had to use a trail guide to sort out that we were on a completely different road. We also camped out here, be mindful that it is very cold in March still, but having said that, besides some coyote packs, we had the place all to ourselves.

    Leave No Trace

    Always practice Leave No Trace ethics on your adventures and follow local regulations. Please explore responsibly!

    We want to acknowledge and thank the past, present, and future generations of all Native Nations and Indigenous Peoples whose ancestral lands we travel, explore, and play on.

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