Hike through a diverse forest to two alpine lakes that rest atop Manastash Ridge, one of Central Washington’s most notable geologic formations. The trail to Lost and Manastash Lakes is an underappreciated gem that will delight larch lovers, berry munchers, flower photographers, and campers alike.
Manastash Ridge is a gently rolling basalt plateau, running for 50 miles in an east-west direction between Ellensburg and Yakima, notable for cliffs and talus slopes at its perimeter, with elevation varying from 3800 to 6300 feet. The Forest Service’s Wilderness Evaluation from 2009 states, “[t]here are no major scenic values...the key area attraction is the motorized trail system.” But you may come to a different conclusion after visiting this area! The hike to Lost and Manastash Lakes lets you experience a sampling of the region’s diverse flora—including larches—but be prepared to share the multiuse trail with equestrians and motorized vehicles.
From the parking area, begin your ascent to the southwest in a diverse forest of western white pine, whitebark pine, Ponderosa pine, western larch, and subalpine fir. Shrubbery includes thimbleberry, Cascade Oregon grape, lupine, and currant. The trail has a steady, mild grade, but it does not have a flat surface and has not been maintained with hikers in mind. Bring appropriate footwear to contend with loose dirt and sand. After one mile, come to an intersection with trail 1350.2, marked by a sign that bans ATVs and other four-wheeled vehicles. Veer left and continue gently upward for one more mile west-southwest to the intersection with the trail segment to Manastash Lake. Lost Lake, at 4840 feet, lies 0.1 mile beyond this intersection. The shores have several sites that are good for camping.
Double back to the Manastash Lake trail, and turn right (southeast) onto it, skirting the east shore of Lost Lake. Pass a talus field and weave in and out of the forest into clearings that offer views of Ellensburg’s wind farms and the Stuart range. Deeper into this hike, the forest is dominated by Engelmann spruce, Douglas fir, and mountain hemlock. Before reaching Manastash Lake’s basin at 5063 feet, descend briefly, then climb back up to a saddle: Manastash Lake is suddenly before you, clam and reflective. Hardhack, aster, fireweed, and buttercup bloom near the lake. Follow the trail around the lake’s western perimeter to a hand-crafted two-person fishing bench, or simply bask in the riparian oasis atop Manastash Ridge.
WTA Pro Tip: This is a great option in the shoulder season, especially springtime, when there is still too much snow for dirtbikers to make it up to the lake.
- 8.0 miles, roundtrip
- Elevation Gain
- 1,100 feet
- Highest Point
- 5,063 feet
Hiking Manastash Lake
Map & Directions
Co-ordinates: 47.0248, -120.9406 Open in Google Maps