Ancient Lakes Trail

EASY 165 reviews

Ancient Lakes Trail is a 4.6 mile moderately trafficked loop trail located near Quincy, Washington that features a lake and is good for all skill levels. The trail offers a number of activity options and is best used from March until September. Dogs are also able to use this trail but must be kept on leash.

DISTANCE
4.6 miles
ELEVATION GAIN
278 feet
ROUTE TYPE
Loop

dogs on leash

kid friendly

birding

camping

hiking

horseback riding

mountain biking

nature trips

trail running

walking

lake

views

waterfall

wild flowers

1 month ago

Beautiful hike! Took the dog and the kid.

backpacking
1 month ago

**part two**
Part One is posted in the review just below this one :)
— Super dog friendly, if your dog is the hiking/backpacking kind :)
— I’m apprehensive to link this because it seems like a dick move, but given how we saw the area last time, it feels irresponsible to not offer: Please visit https://lnt.org/learn/7-principles for Leave No Trace best practices, so we can all continue to enjoy the open spaces together.

I hope this was helpful, and you have a wonderful time out there!!

backpacking
1 month ago

There are mixed reviews out there on this hike that range from “baby strollers and grannies in mobility scooters can do it” to “prepare to free-solo El Cap in this one”. Here’s why:
- there are multiple trail heads. As one reviewer pointed out, one has you doing vertical scrambles that make you pause and consider if your Last Will and Testament is up to date; another has you shrugging and telling yourself it’s an “active rest” day.
- the near vertical scramble trail head is the farther east/ south east approach, with the lakes between you and the Colombia River. This approach is wicked fun, and drops you into Ancient Lake proper. This is a super good spot to cruise around for a place to make camp. It’s windy af, but beautiful and easy to sleep on.
- the gentle approach is the one from the north/north west that drops you between the Colombia and the ancient lakes. This is a stroll I assume anyone can do, because while we were out there, we ran into all sorts of folks ranging from less mobile to super fit. They all came out from the ancient lakes trail head several miles west of Ancient Lake proper, and very few of them seemed to know anything about our vertical descent into the basin.
- most of the people going towards the basin after our scramble out looked super underprepared for the scramble (e.g. flip-flops and hand carry items.) I think they thought they were getting the gentle route, not the oh-my-bleeps-and-stars route.

The confusion comes from AllTrails having some information, WTA having different information, and Google/Apple Maps having their own information. Makes it a lot to keep up with. WTA seems to have the directions for the scramblier route; Google Maps has the directions. AllTrails seems to have info on the kinder/gentler route; Apple Maps has those directions.

I printed Maps from AllTrails of the whole coulee, but went the WTA way to Ancient Lake because I love scrambles and the topo promised that to be a wild ride (I was not disappointed; this was a blast.) No matter which way you go, this area has TONS of potential. Here’s my suggestions for how best to enjoy.

— This is a great area to explore for everyone in the family. For a more challenging and strenuous experience, as there are awesome hikes up to Dusty Lake, and all along the ridgeway to Burke, Quincy, and Stan Coffin lakes. Dress it down by exploring the rolling hills down by Ancient Lake; you’ll get your walking in, but it won’t be a workout.
— Spend a few days/nights out if you can. This place is best if you can drop all your gear in a base-camp setup and go adventure out with just a daypack.
— Whether you’re day hiking or sleeping over, BRING. PLENTY. OF WATER. The lakes aren’t safe for drinking.
— It is exposed out here: sunscreen, sunglasses, hats, etc. We’re brown; we still protect ourselves when shade is at a premium. Mid day shade is at a premium here.
— These are “primitive” campsites out by the lakes, which means there are NO toilets. Bring a trowel and dig responsibly. We found quite a bit of dirty poo toilet paper all over the area. Dig deep, bury well, pack out the paper products.
— Bring a kite, a frisbee, and/or other lazy-day entertainment (we’re old; we napped) because the rock hopping and exploring is marvelous, but the mid-afternoon sun makes continued exposed hiking/exploring challenging. Play to the environment’s strengths and bring a kite!!
— Speaking of which, the stars are such a major plus if you’re camping out here :) Consider bringing a packable telescope if you’ve got the space for it, or downloading a star map app if that’s more your pace. If it’s a cloudless night, the milky way should be in full display.
— Again, I cant stress this enough, but bring plenty of water. The lake waters are undrinkable, even with filter/boil/purify/steri, because it’s all aggie runoff. For this reason, we didn’t swim in the lakes. I don’t know the official rule on this, but my thought was if we couldn’t drink it, we shouldn’t soak in it :( That part is a little heartbreaking. This is legitimately the only reason this area gets 4 stars. Drinkable/swimmable water would get 5 stars.
— Ok, we can’t drink the lake water, but mosquitoes totally get busy in it. If the wind isn’t blowing enough to make you worry if your tent will hold up, then unfortunately, there will be mosquitoes. Lots and lots and lots of them. Plan accordingly.
— Bear cans aren’t needed, but there are coyotes, so, I recommend cans. We didn’t bring them last time, but worried about our stuff because there wasn’t anywhere really to hang food. We buried our food bag under some hefty rocks, and that worked well.
— No trees for a food bag hang means also, again, limited coverage for shade. This also means limited ability to hang a hammock, if you’re a hammock camper. I am, but happened to be testing out some other gear that made bringing my tent necessary, which worked out.
— The ground is great for tent stakes!!
**part two posted above**

hiking
1 month ago

Less of a hike and more of a long walk in the desert to an oasis. Hiking boots are best because there are tons of rocks. The lakes are beautiful but bring plenty of water because the desert heat can be punishing. There's also several good sites to pitch tents near the lakes. The road to the trailhead is not in good condition and is marked with a sign as "primitive road". Just drive slowly and any regular car should be fine.

1 month ago

Easy access to trailhead. It was a warm day so the waterfalls were great stopping points along the way down to the lakes. Wear good shoes as there are sharp rocks and steep hills to climb if you plan to go to the bottom and walk around the lake.

hiking
1 month ago

Did it as a day hike after climbing at Vantage. We hiked exactly one mile in to an overlook of the lakes, took a few pictures and then hiked one mile back. Can't say I was too enamored. Telephone towers follow you on the way to the lakes, lots of parts of the trail are overgrown, and most of the lakes in the area you can drive to. All this and it was still a decent hike! It was a decent outing that was enjoyable, but we originally planned on backpacking it and then found out it was only going to take a mile to get there so we climbed at Vantage instead, then did it has a day hike.

1 month ago

Dusty but fun to explore. Perfect for cooler days.

2 months ago

Very dusty. Lakes are pretty.

hiking
3 months ago

The road to the trailhead is nice; I made it there with my Honda Civic easily and there's plenty of room for parking. The trail itself is pretty easy going and is marked with pink flagging tape. There were many flowers in bloom including fleabanes, balsomroot, and purple sage. Several waterfalls were still flowing and the lakes were very full. Lots of people were out backpacking/camping with their dogs but we were still able to enjoy nature and see all kinds of bird species as well! You can hike this trail out and back or explore the loop option. The only downside to this hike was that the air and water was very smelly due to the irrigation runoff. Overall, a good 2-3 hours spent outdoors!

3 months ago

Nice hike, gorgeous views. Actually went there to fish, but no luck. Fish were surfacing but didn’t like what I had on the menu. Not an easy trail, sometimes have to crawl over rocks.

4 months ago

This was an amazing hike. So much different from the North bend and North Cascade hikes. Now is the best time to go. It was 65 degrees and sunny. So nice to escape the Seattle rain today.

hiking
4 months ago

My favorite how’s me to do with the kids yet. We counted 15 waterfalls. Of course we just had, had a good rain!! It was amazing!!

trail running
4 months ago

Good trail. Cold & blustery today. Did an 7.88 mile loop and hope to go back in next 4-6 weeks for another loop.

hiking
4 months ago

This hike I am giving all the stars to but you have to go in the spring when the weather isnt really hot and you have to hike down to the banks of the Columbia, otherwise its a three star hike. We started from the White Tail Road trail head using WTA directions. This is a better TH if you are looking for a longer hike and an adventurous hike as well as have some navigation skills. If you are with a family, small kids or looking for a nature walk or easy hike use the TH on Ancient Lakes Rd. There are endless trails so a map, guide of app is very helpful. There are some trails that head to the Columbia where we saw only two others. This is a big part of this hike in my opinion and not sure why more people dont make the journey.

hiking
4 months ago

Such a beautiful trail! 55 and sunny today. We parked at 12:30 and got back to the car around 3:30–took our time and stopped to have lunch near the waterfall. Definitely bring or download the trail map before you get there—the trails aren’t well marked, and it’s easy to accidentally start following one of the other trails in the area. It wasn’t too crowded, especially for a nice day. Only buggy for ~1/4 of a mile, but the rest of the day was perfect.

5 months ago

good spring or fall hike.

hiking
5 months ago

I had the trail to myself on this beautiful brisk morning. Lots of scat on the trail but didn't see any animals around except birds overhead. Stunning area, a few nice waterfalls leading to the lake.

6 months ago

I did this trail today 2/5/18 and met 3 people on the whole trail so basically I had it to myself and it was an absolute dream. Easy and relaxing. I got lucky and it was sunny with clear blue skies. It was an awesome day and fun hike!

hiking
6 months ago

Awesome hike! Recently moved to Central Washington and since there’s no snow in January I thought I’d give this one a shot! Glad I did. Lots of people were out on the weekend for this one.

The hike is very gradual with minimal incline. The most incline comes at the end and whether you choose to hike up over the waterfall or not.

I chose to hike up to the ridge and the view at the peak of sunset was well worth it. Check this one out. Plus it’s suitable for all ages.

I actually filmed this hike and put the video on YouTube. It shows ground footage as well as aerial footage with my drone. If you’re interested and want a more in depth feel for the hike, check it out here: https://youtu.be/tjhg5b7DPEM

Or just type “Ancient Lakes Central Washington” into YouTube and it should be the first thing that comes up. Thanks for checking it out and I’d love to hear feedback. If interested, subscribe the YouTube channel DanGoodLife as well. Happy hiking!

hiking
7 months ago

Suitable for all.

8 months ago

Amazing views .easy fun trail .do go to the waterfall

hiking
8 months ago

Great hike with lots to see!!

10 months ago

This was nice and easy. We did the entire loop, which was way more than 4.7 miles, but we also walked across the rocks to the waterfall by the lake. Once we got to the waterfall, we climbed up to the top of it. The views were even more amazing from up there. Did run into one rattlesnake, but it didn't bother with us.

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Was super easy to get to. I like the heat but the heat there was ridiculous. When you go to get water at night with a light, bring a head net... views were pretty good if you climb the canyon a little bit. But the heat made me not want to think of that weekend ever again

backpacking
Monday, July 24, 2017

This hike is easy in the sense of distance and little elevation gain, but the heat made it miserable. I would only recommend going out here during cooler weather. The area does have some different scenery compared to other parts of Washington that I am used to, and it was beautiful, but the heat made me never want to go back.

Monday, July 24, 2017

Easy path hardly any incline at all. Beautiful rock views along the way...hike is broken up with water fall mid way , and then a lake. Beautiful flowers around the water spots.

Really enjoyable "high dessert" hike. If looking to get away from normal green dense forest hikes in WA, would check it out. Bring lots of water cause via little cloud cover in this part of WA in summer .

backpacking
Sunday, July 23, 2017

This is my all time favorite 1 nighter small backpacking excursion. I have done it countless times. It's short enough for the whole family but has extensions to make any level hiker happy. There aren't to many designated camp sites but you will find plenty of flat ground to put a tent down, on the top of the hill there are multiple stone fire pits, just a note.

mountain biking
Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Road my bike in with no problem love this trail

backpacking
Tuesday, June 13, 2017

My absolute favorite short hike in Washington! Super easy, amazing views, awesome camping spots, and doesn't take that long

hiking
Monday, June 05, 2017

Nice hike. Trails were good my wife and I had a blast. As soon as it warms up some more we going to do it again.

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