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Ancient Lakes

Waterfalls in the desert. Deep coulees. Small lakes and large lakes. Sagebrush. Wildflowers. A cacophony of bird songs. Spring is the best time to visit the Ancient Lakes in the Quincy Wildlife area - it's sunny and warm and you can even pitch your tent by a lake.

Hike of the Week:

April 7, 2008

Ancient Lakes
Birds and wildlife abound in the Ancient Lakes' basin. The Quincy Wildlife Area is accessible year-round, but the best time to visit is April and May. Photo by Kim Brown.

Location:  near Quincy
Distance:  5 mi. roundtrip
Elevation:  100-200 ft.
Maps:  USGS Babcock Ridge

Why Go?

Waterfalls in the desert. Deep coulees. Small lakes and large lakes. Sagebrush. Wildflowers. A cacophony of bird songs.

There are many reasons to visit Ancient Lakes in the Quincy Wildlife Recreation Area. Spring is really the best time - sunny and warm weather and an opportunity to pitch your tent by a lake are a few more.

We were inspired to feature Ancient Lakes this week because of a particularly poetic Trip Report by Galiwalker. He describes the area as a "particularly curvaceous lady: scalloped hills ringing deep blue/green lakes with smoothly rounded shores, each one more beautiful than the next, enticing me onward and inward." The accompanying photos lend proof to that.

Ancient Lakes waterfall
A waterfall in desert country? You bet! Photo by 'Galiwalker.'

Start your hike on an old jeep trail past the gate at the end of the road. Just short of a mile, you will curve off the trail to the left toward Ancient Lakes (going straight will take you to Dusty Lake, another wonderful destination). This trail will take you into the coulee and to the lakes.

Make sure to save time to explore the entire lake basin. This wetland area provides habitat for many species of birds and mammals. And it's entertaining to watch the swallows flit in and out of the basalt cliffs. A map would provide some off-trail explorations as well.

For More Information:

Guidebook: Best Desert Hikes Washington by Alan Bauer & Dan Nelson (Mountaineers Books). Check WTA's Hiking Guide and Trip Reports for Ancient Lakes. Quincy Wildlife Area access information.


From Ellensburg, drive east on I-90 to  George (Exit 149). Turn left and drive on SR 281 to Quincy. In Quincy, turn left (west) on SR 28 and drive 4 miles to White Trail Road. Turn left and drive about 7 miles or so until you reach Road 9-NW and drive 5.9 miles to the road's end. You will need an annual permit from Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife permit to park here (this is different from the Northwest Forest Pass).



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