Ancient Lake


Backpack - Ancient Lake

Experience the pleasant spring climate of eastern Washington while hiking through fields of wildflowers and by two waterfalls and multiple lakes on an easy hike to a scenic campsite among the lakes. After setting up camp, we'll take a short day hike to two ridge saddles overlooking a larger lake. We hike out Sunday morning after breakfast.

COVID-19: Learn about our most up-to-date guidance for participants and leaders on our COVID-19 Response page. All participants and leaders must agree to the COVID-19 Code of Conduct before participating in this Mountaineers activity.
  • Easy
  • Easy
  • Mileage: 4.0 mi
  • Elevation Gain: 200 ft
  • High Point Elevation: 860 ft
  • Pace: 2.0 mph

Meet at 8 AM Saturday at the Preston Park and Ride lot, where we can consolidate cars.  It is reached by taking Exit 22 from I-90, turning left at the end of the exit to cross I-90, left again at the T junction, and then taking the first left into the park and ride lot.  No parking pass is required.

From the Preston Park and Ride lot , we will caravan east on I-90 to the Travelers' Rest at Snoqualmie Pass Exit 53, turning right at the end of the exit and right again at the T junction.  The Travelers' Rest is the first building on the right.  It has public restrooms and a store.

Then we will caravan again onto I-90 eastbound, taking Exit 149 (George), turning right at the end of the exit and right again into the truck stop that has gas, restrooms, a Subway and a store.  This is our last opportunity to buy anything before starting the hike.

Then we caravan north on SR 281, turning left onto Road 5 NW, which becomes Road U NW.  Then we turn left at Road 9 NW, which becomes Ancient Lake Road and ends at the trailhead parking lot.  Our driving route is paved, except for the last few miles on the Ancient Lake Road, which is gravel, but well maintained.  Each car parked at the trailhead parking lot must display a Discover Pass.  There is one portapotty there, but no water source.

Our hike in will be two miles with 200 feet elevation gain, through grassy and sandy terrain without trail markers and past an impressive waterfall.  There are no designated campsites, so we will have a wide range of options for where we camp.  We usually camp on a ridge overlooking two of the four or five lakes in the area.   After setting up camp and having lunch, we will have an optional short day hike to two saddles overlooking Dusty Lake, which is larger than those we camp by.

After returning to camp, we have an opportunity to swim in the lakes or just explore the area, which includes a second waterfall that may be in view from our campsite.  We will have a camp dinner.  After dinner, if  campfires are permitted and there is enough available firewood, we will build a campfire and have smores.

Sunday morning we'll have a camp breakfast, pack up camp and hike out via the route we hiked in, stopping again at the truck stop in George, for gas, restrooms and water.  There will be an optional lunch stop on the drive home.  In the past, The Brick in Roslyn has been a favorite spot for that.


1.  There are two trailheads for the Ancient Lakes hike.  Our driving route takes us past the first one, which involves hiking down  a steel scree slope and then doing some boulder hopping.  We are NOT hiking in from that trailhead, but a GPS device might lead you there, so carefully read and follow the driving directions above. 

2.  There is no consumable water on this hike.  All water we pass on the hike is from agricultural runoff, which is polluted by chemicals that cannot be removed by boiling, treating or filtering.  So all water consumed on this trip, including what is used for rehydration of food, must be carried in.  Due to the drier climate of eastern Washington, four liters is the minimum needed for the trip.  It is recommended to leave at least another two liters in your car, in case you run out of water and have to return to the car for more.   A round trip hike back to the car would take about two hours.  We are hiking out right after breakfast on Sunday to limit the amount of water needed.


Ancient Lake

Required Equipment

Required Equipment

The Ten Essentials plus overnight gear which may include:

  • Tent with footprint/ground tarp
  • Stove and fuel
  • Sleeping bag
  • Sleeping pad
  • Water filter
  • Bear canister or extra stuff sack and cord designated for hanging food
  • Cooking pot/pan with plate and utensils
  • Toilet paper and shovel or blue bag to deal with waste
Trip Reports