Billy Clapp Lake Hike

Hike Rating: Moderate
Hike Length: 7.6 miles roundtrip (variable)
Elevation Gain: 75’
Trailhead Elevation: 1,400’
Best Season: April-June and September
Driving Access: Any vehicle

Plus Points
• A pleasant, cow-free hike along flat basalt benches above a steep-walled lake
• Ice Age flood features include potholes, spillover channels and hanging coulees
• A wildflower showcase in Spring, with balsamroot, bush lupine, blue flax and salvia
• Common wildlife include mule deer, coyotes, grey partridges and red-tailed hawks
• Several secluded coves on the lake allow walking access down to water's edge
• The chance for solitude increases the further north one hikes along the lake

Minus Points
• No established trail after first mile, so good route-finding skills are necessary
• Occasional powerboats on the lake can disturb the wilderness atmosphere
• Rattlesnakes are a possibility throughout the summer, so be aware

Download (PDF, 566 KB): Photos of Billy Clapp Lake Hike
Download (PDF, 680 KB): Topo Map for Billy Clapp Lake Hike
Download (GPX, 1 KB): GPS Points for Billy Clapp Lake Hike
Download (PDF, 682 KB): Road Map for Billy Clapp Lake Hike

Trail Notes
Map of Billy Clapp Lake Hike
The trail begins behind the vault toilet at the boat ramp, ascends a short rise, then drops down onto a wide bench above the lake. For the first 0.9 miles, this trail wanders through grasslands between basalt buttes, finally petering out at a swampy green swale near the lakeshore. The route then skirts this swale and goes cross-country to the start of a game trail angling up the hillside to the west (GPS Point 1). After a steep scramble up this rocky slope, one emerges on a higher grassy bench, 200' above the lake.

For the next half mile, the route follows game trails north along this bench, with long views of the lake and the vertical bluffs ahead. At 1.5 miles (GPS Point 2), one comes to the crest of the bench and the route gradually descends toward the lakeshore again, to the mouth of a creek running into the lake from the west.
The route then follows this side creek upstream for about 150 yards to a prominent game trail leading out of the canyon to the north (at GPS Point 3). Follow this game trail north onto a wide bench above the lake.

For the next 0.7 miles, the route follows the lowest bench nearest the lake, above steep rock bluffs edging the water. At about 2.4 miles, one passes a deep circular pothole and descends into a narrow coulee with a striking rock pillar in its center to the west. Here one can turn right (east) and descend down the coulee to the lake's edge. To continue the hike, the route goes left (west) up the coulee to the north side of the rock pillar (GPS Point 4), then scrambles up onto the bench north of the pillar.

From here the route contours northwest along this bench on a level grade for about 0.4 miles to a prominent side canyon running west down into the coulee. Following this side canyon down to the coulee bottom (at GPS Point 5), it's then an easy walk north, across a fence line, to the mouth of the coulee and the lake's edge. At 3.4 miles, this is a scenic spot for a rest and lunch, but those with more ambition can continue northwest up a coulee, skirting a giant basalt knob, for another 0.4 miles to a third scenic cove on the lakeshore.

Road to Trailhead
From State Route 28, 10.3 miles east of Soap Lake and 7 miles west of Wilson Creek, turn north on Road J NE at signs for "Pinto Dam/Billy Clapp Lake." This turnoff is just east of the small town of Stratford. Drive north 2.4 miles on Road J NE to the parking area at road's end, next to the boat launch. The trail starts north up the hillside, just behind the vault toilet. A Washington State Discover Pass is required to park at this trailhead.

Camping Options
The nearest public campground is at Sun Lakes-Dry Falls State Park, about 30 driving miles from the trailhead. This is a large campground with flush toilets, showers, drinking water, full hookups and over 190 campsites, including spaces for tents as well as the largest RVs and travel trailers. Be prepared for high winds. Reservations are available April 15 through September 15 and are highly recommended for the summer months. Visit the WA State Parks website or call (888) 226-7688. Camping fees are based on the type of campsite selected.

A no-frills, no-fee alternative is the BLM Pacific Lake/Lakeview Ranch Campground, about 33 driving miles east of the trailhead, north of Odessa on the Lakeview Ranch Loop Road. Here, northeast of the old Lakeview Ranch buildings and corrals, on a flat bench above now dry Pacific Lake, are a vault toilet and gravel parking areas suitable for travel trailers. A grassy area with a few shade trees, plus tables and fire rings, serves tent campers and picnickers. There is no potable water here, but drinking water jugs can be filled at the City Park in downtown Odessa.

Finally, campsites are available at two private campgrounds in Soap Lake, WA, about 13 driving miles west of the trailhead on State Route 28.

Agency Contact: Washington Dept. of Fish & Wildlife, (509) 765-6641

DISCLAIMER: Every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of this information, but the authors do not guarantee that it is either current or correct. The reader assumes full responsibility for any use of this information, and is encouraged to contact local public land agencies to inquire about current conditions before traveling.

Page last updated: 11/12/13