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Lenore Lake Caves

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Lenore Lake Caves were formed 12,000 years ago when the area was flooded by melting ice. The "Shelter" part of the name comes from the fact that the caves were used by native tribes thousands of years ago. Today, visitors may view petroglyphs inside the caves. Seven caves are accessible by the maintained trail.

Prairie falcons nest in the sheer cliffs of the Grand Coulee, and this route brings you close to them. Watch the majestic raptors soar over the coulees as they hunt for birds, small mammals, and reptiles--yes, there are reptiles aplenty here. Rattlesnakes, rubber boas, and bull snakes can all be found in the vicinity. Be especially alert as you near the cave entrances as the snakes frequently use the cool cave environments to help regulate their body temperatures in the heat of summer.

The well-marked trail from the parking area leads to the series of caves, but while the caves are the primary draw to the area, don't forget to pay attention to what's outside them. In addition to the birds and other animals, enjoy the flora of the area. Look for desert shooting stars, which are thick along the trail. Also in evidence are nine-leaf desert parsley and fern-leaf desert parsley.
Driving Directions:

From Ellensburg drive east on Interstate 90 to exit 151 (State Route 283) signed "Soap/Soap Lake). Drive through Ephrata. At Soap Lake, turn north on SR 17. At 8.5 miles north of the Soap Lake campground area, turn right onto a well-signed road leading to the Lenore Lake Caves. Drive 0.5 mile up the gravel road to the large turnaround parking area.

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Recent Trip Reports

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There are 8 trip reports for this hike. See all trip reports for this hike.
Lenore Lake Caves — Sep 22, 2013 — Kyle
Day hike
Issues: Water on trail
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It was raining when we started our hike so we ended up hiking the trail quickly. The trail gave us ...
It was raining when we started our hike so we ended up hiking the trail quickly. The trail gave us a great view of Lake Lenore which, due to the strong wind gusts, had waves crashing to the sandy shore much like a small ocean. We hiked along the well constructed path to the first cave. It was a small scramble up the scree to the cave. Once inside we enjoyed the peace from the torrent of rain falling down. Quickly we made our way back down the scree and over to the 2nd cave which is much deeper. Inside I couldn't help but feel like I was a part of the history here. It certainly gave protection from the wind and rain and, with a fire, could have been quite cozy.
The hike overall took roughly a half hour to complete.
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Lenore Lake Caves — Sep 01, 2013 — Medusa La Stone
Day hike
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Took a quick hike to the top of Lenore Lake Caves ridgeline between swimming at Soap and Sun Lakes.....
Took a quick hike to the top of Lenore Lake Caves ridgeline between swimming at Soap and Sun Lakes... 90+ desert heat, made the trek sweaty, but the view was fabulous! Sage is ripe for the picking and a pair of Ravens followed us on our decent. Enjoy the summer while it lasts! ^_^
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Lenore Lake Caves — May 12, 2013 — Susan Elderkin
Day hike
Features: Wildflowers blooming
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The drive along the Lower Grand Coulee between Soap Lake and Sun Lakes State Park has got to be one ...
The drive along the Lower Grand Coulee between Soap Lake and Sun Lakes State Park has got to be one of the most scenic unknown routes in the state. If you look carefully to the east as you drive, you will see up to a dozen caves dotting the basalt wall. These are the Lenore Lakes caves, created during the massive floods of the Ice Age and summer homes to native people 5000 years ago.

A fun, short hike allows hikers to visit six or seven of these caves. We had our kids (4 and 7) along on this hike. It was pretty easy for the 7 year old to maneuver on the rocky terrain, but the 4 year old needed a hand in a few places. I'd officially rate it for kids 5 and up, but our daughter did love it. Caves definitely strike the imagination of kids!

Some of the caves are small, but two are quite large, and its easy to picture women thousands of years ago gathering herbs and making baskets, while the men scanned the valley below for animals. Make sure you press on to the final cave, which is nestled in a low area, protected from the elements.
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Lenore Lake Caves — Mar 16, 2013 — smoseley
Day hike
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The trail was in good condition. Very windy and cold...
The trail was in good condition. Very windy and cold
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Lenore Lake Caves — Feb 16, 2013 — Medusa La Stone
Day hike
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With beautiful blue skies and 52 degree weather, it was a perfect day to celebrate my holiday at Len...
With beautiful blue skies and 52 degree weather, it was a perfect day to celebrate my holiday at Lenore Lake Caves! The trail to both the ridge line and the caves are in good condition, with a few areas of soft dirt/mud (due to recent snow melt).

Along the top of the canyon was evidence of coyote and deer. The views of Lenore and Aikali Lakes were incredible and it was a real treat to hear the chatter of geese and raven echo off the canyon walls.

I didn't see any petroglyphs in the caves I explored, but someone did build a decent sized cairn in one of them.

Be aware: The sign to the Lenore Lake Caves is really small. I had to turn around because I had past the turn off...

Also, if you are driving from Seattle, make sure you are prepared for sudden weather changes. On my way back to town, there was a snow storm over Snoqualmie Pass that REQUIRED chains if you didn't have an AWD vehicle. I'm glad I had mine! ^_^
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running lake lenore caves.jpg
Lenore Lake caves. Photo by Susan Elderkin.
Location
Eastern Washington -- Wenatchee
Washington State Parks and Recreation
Statistics
Roundtrip 1.5 miles
Elevation Gain 200 ft
Highest Point 1300 ft
Features
Wildflowers/Meadows
Wildlife
User info
Discover Pass required
Guidebooks & Maps
Best Desert Hikes: Washington (Bauer & Nelson - Mountaineers Books)
Washington State Department of Natural Resources (DNR) Banks Lake

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Note: the description and driving directions for this Mountaineers Books entry are copyrighted and can't be changed.

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47.4902924 -119.5124946
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