Ancient Lakes

Moses Lake, Washington 98837

Ancient Lakes

Ancient Lakes Professional Guide

Detailed Trail Description from our Guidebook

"This hike through a cliff-rimmed shrub-steppe desert ends at a waterfall tumbling into a spectacular set of lakes.

Crumbling talus and 500-foot basalt cliffs covered in orange and green lichen surround the lush basin. The walk to the lakes is short, but there’s plenty to explore in and above the basin."

More Ancient Lakes Professional Guides

Detailed Trail Descriptions from Our Guidebooks

Best Wildflower Hikes Washington (The Mountaineers Books)
Art Kruckeberg with Karen Sykes & Craig Romano
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"Ancient Lakes are aptly named— they even feel old. As a matter of fact, they are very old leftover bodies of water from the glacial Lake Missoula floods that shaped the land ages ago. It is almost a sacrilege to hurry here. To tarry is better. There are three Ancient Lakes: two are side by side; the third lake is above and is more hidden. The sprawling terrain invites you to ramble, camp, fish, explore, look for wildflowers, and listen to coyotes sing under the chilly stars. Lower Ancient Lake is practically next door to Dusty Lake, another geological leftover. In May, the air is fragrant with sage and wildflowers. The flowers get an early start on the east side of the Cascades—some begin to emerge as early as April. Enticing paths go hither and yon, some leading to the shores of small lakes nestled behind cliffs of columnar basalt, others leading to lonesome views." Read more
Hiking Washington (Falcon Guides)
Oliver Lazenby
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"This hike through a cliff-rimmed shrub-steppe desert ends at a waterfall tumbling into a spectacular set of lakes. Crumbling talus and 500-foot basalt cliffs covered in orange and green lichen surround the lush basin. The walk to the lakes is short, but there’s plenty to explore in and above the basin." Read more
Best Desert Hikes Washington (The Mountaineers Books)
Alan L. Bauer & Dan A. Nelson
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"This route through part of the Quincy Wildlife Recreation Area offers something you seldom find in the desert: a waterfall. But not just any waterfall; here you’ll find a waterfall plunging into a lake. Did I mention this watery world is in the desert? Well it is—a quick glance at the areas around the lake reveals that. Prickly hedgehog cactus dot the slopes around the trail as does an array of desert wildflowers. In the heart of this 15,266-acre wildlife area, you’ll find sparkling potholes surrounded by massive basalt cliffs. The geological wonders are a product of the erosion of lava flows by ancient glacial floodwaters." Read more
Hiking Waterfalls in Washington (Falcon Guides)
Roddy Scheer with Adam Sawyer
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"Ancient Lake and the watershed that feeds into it constitute a true oasis in the otherwise dry and dusty high desert Columbia plateau outside of George, Washington. After a little hiking, serene Upper Ancient Lake beckons, spawning its own set of waterfalls that in turn feed a meadow that funnels into more dramatic Ancient Lake Falls and its namesake lake below." Read more

Ancient Lakes Reviews

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6/4/2009
The trail was clearly marked and fairly easy. There are several other lakes and linking trails which make it easy to extend the trip. The waterfall was great and refreashing. I recommend going earlier in the spring as it was pretty sizzling in June.
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5/6/2009
Visited this area but approached it from Burke Lake. Much shorter trail. Trailhead is located behind restrooms. Flowers were beautiful on the upper benches. Not so many on the coulee floor. Waterfalls ( Judith Pool Falls and Falls into Ancient Lakes) were full and beautiful. Great views. Recommend reading about Ice Age Floods before coming.
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Ancient Lakes Photos

Trail Information

Moses Lake
Nearby City
Dog-friendly
Accessibility
4.8
Distance
Out-and-back
Trail Type
Moderate
Skill Level
2 hours
Duration
Year-round
Season
Mountain Biking
Additional Use
Waterfalls
Features
Columbia Basin Wildlife Area, Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, 6653 Road K NE, Moses Lake; (509) 9256746; wdfw.wa.gov
Local Contacts
USGS Babcock Ridge
Local Maps

Activity Feed

Dec 2018