Looking for a larch hike in mid to late October without the crowds? The trail to Manastash Lake and Lake is the one for you! This trail does have dirt bikes (off trail motorcycles) so if you’re not interested in a shared use trail, this will not be the right trail for you. I did not find this to be a problem, it’s easy to hear them coming and step to the side and I found them to be very courteous of hikers.
At 8 miles round trip with about 1100 feet of elevation gain, this is a long though mellow hike. For a shorter outing with even less elevation gain, you can go just as far as Lost Lake for a 4 mile round trip outing.
Both lakes have lovely campsites nearby.
The Manastash Ridge area is the homeland of the Yakama people.
Dog Friendly: Yes. Make sure to hold dogs close if passing dirt bikers or horses.
Cell phone coverage: None, also none on the last 10 miles of the road to the trailhead.
Restrooms: Pit toilet
Accessibility and Mobility: This trail is shared with dirt bikers and I think in mid summer this would make it extremely dusty. In spring and fall dust is less of an issue. The trail has some rocks and roots but never gets extremely steep.
The trailhead is at the end of Forest Service Road 31, in the Okanagan-Wenatchee National Forest, near Ellensburg in the foothills on the east side of the Cascade Mountains
When is the best time to hike to Manastash Lake and Lost Lake?
Mid to late October is the ideal time to see the larch trees in golden splendor along the trail and at the lakes.
Spring is also a good time to visit. I wouldn’t recommend mid summer because sharing the trail with dirt bikes makes a lot of dust in summer, although if you’re ok with dust swimming in either lake would be awesome on a hot summer day.
Where do you park?
To get there, take the Thorp exit from I-90 and go left on Thorp Way. In about two miles, turn right on Cove Road then right on Manastash Road just a bit over four miles further.
Keep following Manastash Road, it turns to gravel and gets narrow and winding. Take it slow and when you’re almost to the trailhead there’s a fork in the road and a sign pointing left for Manastash Lake. After you go left, you’ll dead end in the parking lot in about half a mile.
Starting off, you’ll be in gorgeous larch trees right away. A gravel road crosses the trail a couple of times but ignore that. You’ll slowly head up through the forest with a few rocks and roots here and there.
In about a mile, you’ll come to a clearing and a trail junction. Go angled left here with a bit more gentle climbing. You’ll reach Lost Lake in another mile, two miles from the parking area.
I think Lost Lake is the prettier of the two lakes (though they are both lovely) so there’s no reason not to spend time here or turn around here if a four mile outing feels better. Plenty of good lunch logs and camping spots.
If you’re continuing on, stay on the trail as it wraps around the end of the lake and then goes along a short rocky slope.
Now the trail climbs a bit more up a couple of switchbacks on the side of a ridge. At the top of the ridge there are a few views between the trees out towards Ellensburg. This trail overall doesn’t have a lot of views, but there’s a bit of a view here.
The last half mile before Manastash Lake has quite a few short ups and downs with some rocks.
After a total of four miles from your car, you’ll arrive at Manastash Lake. There are lots of good lunch logs and campsites here too.
When you’re ready retrace your steps back to the trailhead.
Where to stop after your hike
If you’re heading west toward Seattle, Dru Bru in Cle Elum is big and has an excellent wood fired pizza food truck. In Ellensburg, head to Winegar’s for epic ice cream!
Electric Vehicle Charging
Fast charging for EV’s is available at the Summit Deli and gas station at Snoqualmie Pass. There is also fast charging available in North Bend, Cle Elum and Ellensburg.
Hi! I'm Jennie. I’m a fourth generation Seattleite who lived in Alaska for 7 years and I still spend lots of time there every year. I've been a tour guide for many years in both Alaska and Washington and am a field editor for the Milepost. I love to share the places I love with visitors, newcomers and my fellow locals. I’m so glad to have you along on the journey to experience your best adventure in Washington, Alaska and Western Canada!
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