#PNWonderland: An overnight trip to Ancient Lakes in Central Washington

Ancient Lakes next to Quincy in Central Washington is one of those places where it rarely rains and it is as hot as it can get around here in the Pacific Northwest. So, after spending the previous weekend snow camping in Mt. Rainier, we decided to make a drastic change for this weekend and head east, to the desert.

Getting from the trailhead to the lakes and back is an easy 4 miles loop. The scenery is beautiful and the lakes make a great camping spot, so we decided to make this an overnight trip and to ride the bikes instead.

Biking through the desert
And so it begins

We got to the trailhead late in the afternoon, and the temperature was high around 30°C (90F). At least, it wouldn't get any hotter than that during the day. We biked to the lakes on a mostly flat trail, with an unique scenery: desert, waterfalls, flowers and even few lakes. Thanks to a tip found on The Outbound, we camped next to the waterfall at Ancient Lakes, with an amazing view on the lakes and far away from other backpackers.

Perfect camping spot
Perfect camping spot

In the night, the sky was clear, the stars bright and the wind too strong to comfortably sleep, and the next morning the view from the tent couldn't be more beautiful.

Morning view
Morning view.

The next morning, we explored a bit the surroundings and biked to Dusty Lake. The bike trail is not too difficult, sometimes rocky, sometimes sandy, easy ups and downs, perfect for a Sunday morning. By the time it started to get hot, we were already back to the car and eager to grab lunch soon.

I'm once again amazed by how diverse Washington State is: mountains, ocean, rivers and desert, it has it all.


  • More information: WTA hike description
  • Difficulty: easy hike, easy bike ride
  • Great for: sunny weather, quiet camping area, dogs allowed
  • Warnings: many mosquitos and other insects; we also saw a snake on the trail.
  • Don't forget to pack: insect repellent, sunscreen cream, cat/hap, water (the water from the lake and waterfalls is not safe to drink, even after filtering)
  • Permits needed: No permit for hiking to hike or camping, Discovery Pass required for parking at the trailhead.
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