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Chukar Lake - Blythe Lake

Central Washington > Potholes Region
46.9584, -119.2946 Map & Directions
3.2 miles, roundtrip
Elevation Gain
350 feet
Highest Point
975 feet
Calculated Difficulty About Calculated Difficulty
Marsh Unit One as seen from Chukar Lake. Photo by Wes Partch. Full-size image
  • Dogs allowed on leash
  • Wildlife
  • Lakes

Parking Pass/Entry Fee

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The trail to Blythe and Chukar Lakes is short but also surprisingly entertaining. From beginning to end, the surrounding cliffs and distant vistas are spectacular to behold. Continue reading

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Hiking Chukar Lake - Blythe Lake

The trail to Blythe and Chukar Lakes is short but also surprisingly entertaining. From beginning to end, the surrounding cliffs and distant vistas are spectacular to behold. Perhaps the best time to visit is in early spring when sandhill cranes arrive but before ticks and snakes awaken.

Begin at the dirt road beyond the metal gate that heads initially uphill. Blythe Lake, the largest of three lakes along the way, is on the left, while impressive basalt cliffs dominate the scene on the right. The track is sometimes rough with small rocks, bumbles up and down, but is generally easy walking.

Stay right at 0.5 mile where a narrow footpath heads steeply uphill — the track that continues left dead ends along crumbly rock. The trail heads away from the lake and tops a small rise where the views are grand in all directions. Mule deer may be present, either grazing the hills or galloping away over the horizon.

A fascinating crater sits just off to the right of the trail at the 0.9 mile mark. Another dirt track intersects this point, and the way to Chukar Lake continues to the left here. The track now heads straight toward a basalt tower where Chukar Lake can finally be seen as well as the expansive Marsh Unit and more cliffs beyond that.

Descend into the valley on another dirt track. The route turns left and then right around 1.3 miles before heading straight east toward the Marsh Unit at 1.6 miles. Here a signpost declares the marsh ‘closed to the public’ to reduce the disturbance of sandhill cranes, although another sign on the same post says, “open to hunting only Wednesdays, Saturdays, and Sundays, and federal holidays.”

The adjacent Marsh Unit, which is habitat for many birds, can be reasonably admired from either the signpost or the hill a quarter mile back with good binoculars. Although many side tracks can be explored to different vistas or pocket lakes, the best way back to the trailhead is to follow the same route taken.

Toilet Information

  • No toilet at trailhead

More information about toilets

Wheelchair Accessibility

Rough dirt tracks and narrow footpaths - not suitable for wheelchairs.

Hike Description Written by
Wes Partch, WTA Correspondent

Chukar Lake - Blythe Lake

Map & Directions

Co-ordinates: 46.9584, -119.2946 Open in Google Maps

Before You Go

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Parking Pass/Entry Fee


WTA Pro Tip: Save a copy of our directions before you leave! App-based driving directions aren't always accurate and data connections may be unreliable as you drive to the trailhead.

Getting There

From Royal City, take Ahlers Ave N 0.9 mile to Grant County Rd 12 SW. Turn right and follow Rd 12 for 7.3 miles to Highway 262. Turn left onto 262 and proceed another 10.5 miles and turn right just before milepost 14 onto a road marked “Public Fishing.”

Proceed straight between the parking lot on the left and the sheds on the right. The road is rough with large rocks, but it is only 1.5 miles to Blythe Lake. The road terminates at the large parking lot next to the boat ramp. No bathroom is available.

More Hike Details


Central Washington > Potholes Region

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

Guidebooks & Maps

Best Desert Hikes: Washington (Bauer & Nelson - Mountaineers Books)

Washington State Department of Natural Resources (DNR) Priest Rapids

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Chukar Lake - Blythe Lake

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