Looking for a quick desert escape from Seattle but don’t want to pay all that money for a plane ticket to go somewhere like California or Arizona? Or, maybe you’re looking for a hike that’s a little different from the typical mountain climbs and waterfall views. Well my friend, Ancient Lakes Trail near Quincy, Washington is definitely for you! We enjoy the beautiful PNW snowy hikes in the winter so much, but we were ready for a little getaway from evergreen-land and wanted to explore something new and different than our typical Pacific Northwest hiking experience.
Ancient Lakes Trail
Ancient Lakes Trail near Quincy, Washington is about 3 hours outside of Seattle. This might seem like a stretch, and too long of a drive, but the scenery alone on the drive there is worth it all! East of the Cascade Mountains, the terrain turns from moody winding highways surrounded by towering mountains and evergreen trees into the Wild West. Literally. Watch the land transform into a vast and beautiful desert, into a place that makes it feel like you definitely are not in the Evergreen State anymore, and more like on an alien planet. There were even tumbleweeds blowing across the highway (yes, just like the ones you see in the cartoons and the movies)!
Pro-tip: Is a three-hour drive a little too much? Make a weekend trip out of it by staying in nearby Ellensburg or consider camping! We wish we could’ve spent more time exploring Eastern Washington. Especially since Ancient Lakes Trail is only an hour away from Palouse Falls, also known as one of the most amazing waterfalls in Washington!
Hitting the Trail
Ancient Lakes Trail is an easy trail gaining only 288 feet in elevation and 4.6 miles round-trip in Eastern Washington. It leads you through a desert basin, surrounded by horseshoe-shaped mountains and golden desert grasses. The trail was nice and flat and is a perfect trail for beginners or families (and your furry friends too)! About half-way on the trail, you’ll come across a beautiful waterfall cascading down the mountain next to you. The perfect place to take a break and listen to the water dance across the desert rock.
As you continue along the trail, the grand finale is two beautiful and bright blue desert lakes. I thought about how amazing it would be to hike here in the summer and jump into the lake at the end. But be warned: Rattlesnakes are very common in the summer in this area, can swim, and also enjoy cool dips in those beautiful blue lakes. Well, I think I’ll pass and stick to jumping into the freezing cold alpine lakes in the summer – thank you very much!
We were completely shocked to find this trail got only four stars on AllTrails because we give it a solid five. It is now one of our favorite trails in Washington and cannot wait to head back during the summer time. From the beautiful golden desert colors, awe-inspiring waterfalls, and serene blue lakes, Ancient Lakes trail is truly such a unique gem in the Pacific Northwest that you must experience for yourself!