“Ancient Lakes is a desert oasis in eastern Washington that makes for an easy day trip or beginner backpack trip.
— Jessie Morris
Lake · Swimming · Views · Waterfall · Wildflowers · Commonly Backpacked
This trail features low elevations and a relatively short distance from the trailhead to the lakes.
Parking Pass/Entry FeeDiscover Pass.
Ancient Lakes Loop Trail is a relatively easy trek with little elevation gain, lots of campsites spread out across a network of trails (indicated by small fire rings). Nestled into horseshoe-shaped canyon walls, the five lakes that make up Ancient Lakes are also accompanied by a waterfall or two.
Need to Know
There are few trees so be prepared for heat and sun in the summer months with plenty of water. The water in the lakes is mostly runoff from irrigation, so do not drink the water, it is recommended that you pack in the water you'll need or bring a water filtration system.
Rattlesnakes are common in the summer months, so be sure to stay on path and keep aware. This area is known for high winds.
Note that there are two trailheads to approach Ancient Lakes (one from Rd 9 and one from south of White Trail Rd). This route departs from the Ancient and Dusty Lakes Trailhead that can be found at the end of Rd 9 (which turns into Ancient Lake Rd). There are multiple paths you can take but as long as you head in the general direction of the first canyon to the east, all paths lead to Ancient Lakes (if you go too far, you'll reach Dusty Lake).
The hike marked here is the most common path. The Ancient Lake Trail
to the north travels closer to the base of the cliffs and to a lone waterfall.
As you approach Ancient Lakes, if you continue on to the lake in the northeastern most point, you'll find a waterfall attraction. Swimming in the lakes is common, but beware of rattlesnakes on the ground and in the water (they can swim!) during the summer months.
Whether for a day trip or an overnight, be sure to explore the area's many paths to get the full experience. There are many viewpoints from this waterfall, the hill that looks at it, as well as a trail that ventures to the south side and up the canyon.
There are very few trees and shade in this area, so be prepared with sunscreen, hats, and plenty of water (especially in the warm weather).
These trails are shared by hikers, runners, mountain bikers, as well as horses.
Flora & Fauna
Beware of rattle snakes in the summer months - they are common in this area.