Ancient Lakes Trail in Quincy, WA

Ancient Lakes Trail is a unique wonder in the Pacific Northwest. Washington state typically invokes images of lush green forests and mountains, but this trail located in the Quincy Lakes State Wildlife Area sits in a desert.

The open space trail features a variety of plants, animals, and views that give off a western vibe. From massive basalt cliffs to multiple lakes and waterfalls, there is no shortage of natural beauty. Ancient Lakes Trail is a bit off the beaten path, far from Washington’s larger cities, but it’s definitely worth the trip.


The Ancient Lakes trailhead is located just off Ancient Lake Road. There is a pull-off that leads to a parking lot.

Route Type

Ancient Lakes is a loop trail.


This is an easy trail with a graduate incline that almost goes unnoticed.


Ancient Lakes Trail is a 4.6-mile hike.


This trail has 288 feet of elevation gain.

Hike Time

You can expect to be on the Ancient Lakes Trail for around an hour and a half, hiking at an average pace.

Gear To Bring

There is little cover from the sun on Ancient Lakes Trail, so make sure to pack a hat, sunblock, and shades. It averages over 90 degrees during the summer peak in this area of Washington, so bring plenty of water.

Ancient Lakes Trail is a popular place to go birding so bring some binoculars and a good camera. Great Blue Herons, White Pelicans, and Canyon Wrens are just a few birds you may see while on the trail.

Snakes are also common on this trail, with rattlesnakes sighted regularly. Due to this and the sandy and rocky terrain, closed-toed shoes, preferably quality hiking boots, and recommended.


Pets are allowed on the Ancient Lakes Trail on a leash.


Bikes are allowed on this trail.


Visitors must purchase a Discover Pass to park within any Washington state park. There are several free access days throughout the year. See the complete list at the Discover Pass website.

  • Day Pass: $11.50
  • Annual Pass: $35


Parking is available at the trailhead. You can pull up the exact location through the AllTrails app.

Best Seasons to Hike

Ancient Lakes Trail has advantages in any season, depending on your preference, but Spring is considered the best season to visit. The thawing of winter gives life to millions of desert wildflowers that explode with color, painting the desert landscape with its many hues.

Winter is another great time to hit this trail. The cooler temperatures make the nearly 5-mile trail more manageable for those who don’t handle heat well, and while brown foliage may not be the color of choice for many, it just works in a desert. Let’s also not forget the advantage that the rattlesnakes have gone to bed for the winter!

Ancient Lakes Trail is one of those unique places that are truly beautiful any time of year. So no matter what time you can visit, you’ll go home having had a great hike and many pictures to show friends and family.

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Featured image via Washington Trails Association