Intro to Backpacking Field Trip

Field trip: Introduction to Backpacking

Intro to Backpacking Field Trip - Ancient Lake

Explore a wonder of nature created by an ancient flood, camping amidst several beautiful lakes and near two magnificent waterfalls, with an afternoon day hike to a viewpoint overlooking a larger lake.

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: 1,200 ft
  • Pace: 2.0 mph

Meet at 8:30 AM Saturday  in the parking lot of the Traveler's Rest at Snoqualmie Pass, reached by taking Exit 53 southbound (right) from I-90, turning right at the end of the exit, right again at the T junction and taking the first right into the parking lot of the Traveler's Rest ( a brown A frame building).  There are public restrooms on the left side of the building and a general store on the right side. 

From the Traveler's Rest, we will caravan back onto I-90 eastbound, by retracing our arrival route, continuing on I-90 to Exit 149, signed George, where we turn right at the end of the exit and right again into the truck stop where we can buy gas, use the restrooms, fill water bottles and buy lunch  food, if needed, at the Subway Restaurant inside the store.

From the truck stop, we will caravan north on SR 281 across I-90, turn left at White Trail Road (AKA 5 NW), which becomes U NW, turn left at 9 NW, which becomes Ancient Lakes Road and continue to its end at the trailhead parking lot.  Where the road becomes Ancient Lakes Road, it becomes gravel, but well maintained all the way.  There is one portapotty at the trailhead and no water source there or anywhere else on the hike.  The lakes and waterfalls on the hiking route are all fed by agricultural runoff, which is not considered safe to drink, even after filtering, boiling or treating.  So everyone needs to carry in enough water to serve all their needs until we return to the cars on Sunday morning.  That includes both drinking water and water used to rehydrate freeze-dried food and should be at least four liters.  Another two liters of water should be left in the car to rehydrate after you hike out and serve as an emergency reserve to retrieve in the event that someone becomes dehydrated, as happened two years ago.  Dehydration is the greatest risk on this trip because the air is drier in Eastern Washington and  temperatures are higher this time of year than in Western Washington. 

After we set up camp, we will eat our trail lunch and then have an optional short day hike to a viewpoint overlooking magnificent Dusty Lake.  After returning to camp, we will have a camp dinner together followed by smores around a campfire, if there is sufficient firewood available and fire regulations permit campfires.

Sunday morning we will have a camp breakfast and then hike back out to the cars.  On the drive home, we can stop again at the truck stop in George for gas, to use the restrooms and refill water bottles.  If the covid 19 situation then permits, we can stop for a restaurant meal somewhere on the driving route.  On past trips we stopped once in Ellensburg and another time in Roslyn. 

Carpooling is currently discouraged by the Mountaineers for safety reasons.  If by the time of this trip it is considered safe, it must be done before reaching the Traveler's Rest meeting place.  We cannot leave cars overnight there.  I will send out an email message a few days before the trip to everyone registered for it providing up to date guidance on carpooling.  There is enough parking space at the trailhead to accommodate one car for each trip participant. 

This is one of two field trips to Ancient Lakes for the Tacoma Branch Introduction to Backpacking Course.  The other is on May 8-9.   There are other options to fulfill the second field trip requirement.  Non-course members  can register for these trips  later in the signup period when they have not filled up with course students. 


Ancient Lake

Required Equipment

Required Equipment

To be discussed at lecture.

Trip Reports