Backpack - Ancient Lake


Backpack - Ancient Lake

This will be a mentored backpack trip at a social pace, suitable for first-time backpackers. Optional 4-mile hike is planned to explore the surrounding area. My focus is on everyone having fun and learning as we go in this incredibly unique place, hopefully on a nice spring day.

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
  • For Beginners (Getting Started Series)
  • Mileage: 5.0 mi
  • Elevation Gain: 200 ft
  • High Point Elevation: 860 ft
  • Pace: 1.5 - 2 mph

9:00 am at the  LOWER TRAILHEAD!  Google Maps will provide drive directions to the Ancient Lakes lower trailhead, when you input "Ancient & Dusty Lake Trailhead" but if you input "Ancient Lakes Trailhead", it will take you to a different trailhead.  


Ancient lakes are an oasis in the middle of the desert in Eastern Washington, and the destination makes an easy 5-mile round trip.  This trip has a minimal gain in elevation, and offers a nice scenery with lakes, waterfalls, wildflowers and stunning basalt cliffs.  After setting up our camp, as an optional hike, we will explore the surrounding areas by following the boot path along the waterfall up to the upper basin, roaming through the grass and talus in the rocky plateau, visiting other lakes and spectacular viewpoints. There will be an optional hike (Gingko Petrified Forest or Steamboat Rock) wherever the group chooses on the way home.

Options (The official hike will end at the Ancient Lakes TH on Sunday, so  a hike after that is totally optional):

Steamboat Rock hike – 77 miles from the Ancient Lakes TH (about 1 hr 45 min drive from the TH)

Steamboat Rock — Washington Trails Association (

Ginkgo Petrified Forest State Park – 35.5 miles from the Ancient Lakes TH (51 min drive on our way back to Seattle area)

Ginkgo Petrified Forest Interpretive Trails — Washington Trails Association (


Unfortunately, we will have to carry all the water we will use for drinking and cooking since the lake water is not safe to drink due to farm runoff.  Even filtering or boiling will not remove the hazardous chemicals in the water. Everyone should carry in at least 3 liters of water for drinking, plus what you need for cooking (approximately 2 liters).  It is also recommended to have another liter in the cars left at the trailhead for rehydration or emergency.

FOOD STORAGE: Bear canister is not required, but for training purposes, feel free to bring ursack or bear canister so we can discuss the usage.  In fact, a bear canister can be used as a chair, which you will surely appreciate!


It is imperative that participants will follow Mountaineer's guidance, and wear a mask whenever within 6' of others and have hand sanitizer available.  Please do not car-pool unless vaccinated or live in the same household.


Google Maps will provide drive directions to the Ancient Lakes lower trailhead, when you input "Ancient & Dusty Lake Trailhead" but if you input "Ancient Lakes Trailhead", it will take you to a different trailhead. 

For the lower trailhead: From I-90 take exit 149, turn left onto SR 281, and drive north towards Quincy and Wenatchee. In 5.6 miles turn left onto White Trail Road (aka 5-NW) and drive 7.8 miles to 9-NW (note: after 4 miles White Trail Rd swings north & may also be signed U-NW).

Turn left on 9-NW and drive west. In 2 miles the pavement ends and the road becomes Ancient Lakes Road. Follow it down onto Babcock Bench and drive 4 miles to the trailhead.

 Discovery pass is required to park at the TH.

 For more info on the Ancient Lakes area:



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
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