Ancient Lake

A desert area in eastern Washington that offers hiking, backpacking, and bikepacking option from 5 to 20 miles and 200 to 1,500 feet of elevation gain. Travel through desert, past basalt walls, and around the lakes, at the end of which is a waterfall, a rare feature in a desert. Enjoy wildflowers and interesting geology just to the east of the Columbia River near Vantage along the way.

getting there

Take Exit 149 off of I-5, turn left and drive 5.6 miles north on SR-281 toward Quincy. Turn left onto White Trail Road, drive 7.8 miles, turn left onto Road 9-NW. Drive 5.9 miles as the road descends steeply down to Babcock Bench at the road's end. Avoid parking in a  way that blocks the gate whcih provides access to a private driveway.

on the trail

Ancient Lake

4-5 miles round trip with 200 feet of elevation gain, 860 ft high point

Hike the dirt road 0.7 mile to the trailhead and turn left onto the trail to Ancient Lakes.

Dusty Lake

6 miles round trip with 400 feet of elevation gain, 1,000 ft high point

Hike the dirt road 0.7 mile to the trailhead and turn right to stay on the road and continue to Dusty Lake.

Bikepacking

The lower trailhead access is best for bikes because it avoids steep loose rock cliffs. The lower area offers a network of easy to intermediate single-track and double-track trails. Trails are rocky to sandy with options for more challenging routes if desired. Visit the Evergreen Mountain Bike Alliance's "Ancient Lakes" web page for more info.

Camping

Good overnight camping options are by the three Ancient Lakes and by Dusty Lake.

Water

Carry all your own water. There are NO options for filtering drinking water, because water from the lakes is contaminated by agricultural run-off. To minimize the distance water must be carried, camp by the three Ancient Lakes.

notes

  • More information and inspiration in this Seattle P-I article by Karen Sykes.
  • Trips are best done in early spring or fall when temperatures are cool and rattlesnakes and tube punching goat heads are less of an issue.
  • Suitable Activities: Backpacking, Bikepacking, Day Hiking
  • Seasons: Year-round
  • Weather: View weather forecast
  • Difficulty: *Varies*
  • Length: 5.0 mi
  • Elevation Gain: 200 ft
  • 860 ft
Map
  • WA DNR Moses Lake
Activities

Upcoming Activities

CHS 2 Hike - Ancient Lake

Day Hiking Field trip: Conditioning Hiking Series
Hike through a desert oasis in Eastern Washington to five lakes nestled into horseshoe-shaped canyon
Sat, Apr 24, 2021
No Prerequisites
0 participants
Registration closes Apr 22
Seattle Branch

Day Hike - Ancient Lake

Day Hiking Trip
An easy to moderate hike, with about 6 miles total distance, depending on route. About
Difficulty: *Varies*
Wed, Apr 28, 2021
No Prerequisites
1 participant
Registration closes Apr 22
Seattle Branch

Backpack - Ancient Lake

Backpacking Trip
One of the easiest backpack trips anywhere, though a bit of a drive from Seattle.
Difficulty: *Varies*
Sat, May 1, 2021 - Sun, May 2, 2021
No Prerequisites
5 participants on waitlist
Registration closes Apr 29
Foothills Branch

Bikepacking Field Trip - Ancient Lake

Bikepacking Field trip: Basic Bikepacking Course
Bikepacking Overnight field trip to Ancient Lakes
Sat, May 8, 2021 - Sun, May 9, 2021
No Prerequisites, Leader's Permission Required
6 participants 2 instructors
Canceled
Tacoma Branch

Intro to Backpacking Field Trip - Ancient Lake

Backpacking Field trip: Introduction to Backpacking
Explore an ancient wonder of nature, a collection of scenic lakes fed by spectacular waterfalls
Difficulty: Easy
Sat, May 8, 2021 - Sun, May 9, 2021
No Prerequisites
5 participants
Registration closes May 6
Tacoma Branch

Intro to Backpacking Field Trip - Ancient Lake

Backpacking Field trip: Introduction to Backpacking
Explore a wonder of nature created by an ancient flood, camping amidst several beautiful lakes
Difficulty: Easy
Sat, May 15, 2021 - Sun, May 16, 2021
No Prerequisites
2 participants
Registration closes May 13
Tacoma Branch

Basic Backpacking Field Trip - Ancient Lake

Backpacking Field trip: Basic Backpacking
Overnight field trip for the Basic Backpacking Course. This is the last scheduled activity for
Sat, May 22, 2021 - Sun, May 23, 2021
No Prerequisites
8 participants 0 instructors
Registration opens Apr 22; Instructor registration open now
Seattle Branch

Bikepacking Field Trip - Ancient Lake

Bikepacking Field trip: Basic Bikepacking Course
Overnight field trip, riding to and from destination with camping
Difficulty: Easy
Sat, Jun 12, 2021 - Sun, Jun 13, 2021
No Prerequisites, Leader's Permission Required
6 participants 2 instructors
Registration closed Mar 15
Tacoma Branch
Trip Reports
Titles

This is a list of titles that represent the variations of trips you can take at this route/place. This includes side trips, extensions and peak combinations. Not seeing a title that fits your trip? Log in and send us updates, images, or resources.

  • Dusty Lake
  • Ancient & Dusty Lakes
Resources

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