Twin Lakes Hike

Hike Rating: Easy
Hike Length: 6.2 miles roundtrip (variable)
Elevation Gain: 215’
Trailhead Elevation: 1,840’
Best Season: April-June and September
Driving Access: Any vehicle

Plus Points
• A ramble along old abandoned roads on basalt benches above Twin Lakes coulee
• Great overviews of the rock-walled coulee, filled with lakes, marshes and wetlands
• Perhaps the richest wildlife and wildflower day hike in Southeast Washington
• Spring wildflowers range from bitterroot on dry outcrops to wild iris in wet seeps
• A birder's paradise, with ducks, geese, coots and teal, plus osprey and bald eagles
• One of the rare coulee hikes that has ponderosa pine trees for shade

Minus Points
• No marked trail, so route-finding skills required along the various basalt benches
• Rattlesnakes are a possibility throughout the summer, so caution is advised

Download (PDF, 681 KB): Photos of Twin Lakes Hike
Download (PDF, 594 KB): Topo Map for Twin Lakes Hike
Download (GPX, 1 KB): GPS Points for Twin Lakes Hike
Download (PDF, 691 KB): Road Map for Twin Lakes Hike

Trail Notes
Map of Twin Lakes Hike
The hike starts on a wooden footbridge spanning the creek between the Twin Lakes. For the first half mile, the route follows a dirt road southeast, through a green steel gate, then uphill onto the benchlands above Upper Twin Lake, past groves of aspen and a fenced spring. About 200 yards past this fenced spring, in a clearing where the road levels out on the bench top (GPS Point 1), the route leaves the road and follows cow trails north below a prominent basalt bluff. Within a few hundred yards, all the cow trails converge into a single track on a long abandoned roadbed running below the bluffs.

For the next 0.8 miles, the route follows this cow trail/old road as it contours around the bench through sage and grasslands, keeping within 50'-100' of the basalt cliffs. At any point, one can wander across the bench to views of Upper Twin Lake, then return and pick up the trail. The old road does peter
out in one place (GPS Point 2), in a grassy swale just north of a prominent draw — but by walking east up this swale about 50 yards, one soon regains the old road. At 1.5 miles, one comes to a double-track jeep road running east-west (GPS Point 3). For an interesting side trip, one can turn left (west) here and follow this road down to Upper Twin Lake and the marshes above it.

To continue the hike, one goes northeast cross-country from GPS Point 3, through a sagebrush flat, then soon picks up the cow trail/old road again below the bluffs to the north. For the next 0.3 miles, the old road contours under the bluffs until it peters out again at the head of a large draw (GPS Point 4). To visit the marshes close-up, one can descend this draw on game trails all the way to the water. For the last leg of the hike, the route continues north cross-country through the sparse sage and grasslands, with the best views found along the edge of the cliffs overlooking the marshes.

At the north end of this last bench, at about 2.7 miles, all the cow trails converge again on a defined roadbed cut around the cliffs. Through a galvanized steel gate, follow this jeep road north as it begins to climb out of the coulee. About 100 yards past the steel gate (at GPS Point 5), turn left onto a trail leading down into a side canyon and follow the north bank of this canyon all the way to the coulee floor. Here one finds a flowing stream below colorful, lichen-covered basalt walls, plus shade trees scattered along the coulee bottom. It's a nice spot for lunch and a hike turnaround. Return as you came.

Road to Trailhead
From State Route 28 in Odessa, WA, turn north on SR 21 and follow it for about 6 miles north to the turnoff for Coffeepot Road on the right (northeast). Drive north on Coffeepot Road for 6.1 miles to a 90 degree turn to the east. Continue east on Coffeepot Road for another 6.4 miles, past the turnoff for Coffeepot Lake, then turn left (north) onto Highland Road. Coming from the east on State Route 28, one turns west onto Coffeepot Road at the town of Harrington, WA, then follows this road west for about 14 miles to the turnoff for Highland Road on the right (north).

Drive 1.3 miles north on Highland Road, then turn right (east) onto the dirt road into the BLM Twin Lakes Recreation Area. Drive 2 miles down to the lakeside campground and go past the boat ramp. The trailhead is in the second parking area near the creek between the lakes and is easily accessible by any passenger car.

Camping Options
The nearest camping area is right near the trailhead in the BLM Twin Lakes Recreation Area. Tent campers will find a grassy area under sparse cottonwood trees next to the upper lake. Campers with travel trailers will find several dispersed parking spots, some in graveled areas at the upper lake and others in dirt pads near the lower lake. There are no designated camping sites or fees here and all sites are first-come, first-served. There is a vault toilet, but no drinking water.

NOTE: The 2-mile access road down into Twin Lakes is fairly steep in spots, with some tight switchbacks, so very large travel trailers (say larger than 20') are discouraged. A better option for these rigs is the BLM Coffeepot Lake Campground about 5 driving miles south, off Coffeepot Road. Here are 6-8 sites on a bench above the lake, with a few shade trees and a vault toilet, all easily accessible on a gravel road.

Agency Contact: Spokane BLM District, (509) 536-1200

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: 11/8/13