Potholes Coulee by Frenchman Coulee + Dusty and Ancient Lakes / 壺穴深谷

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Potholes Coulee is north of the famous climbing area Frenchman Coulee. Meanwhile, it harbors Dusty Lake and Ancient Lakes, part of the Quincy (Lakes) Wildlife Area. Best of all, the area offers various hiking and backpacking options.

Potholes Coulee's Ancient Lakes
Potholes Coulee’s Ancient Lakes

See more trip photos here.

Potholes Coulee at a Glance

Access: Ancient & Dusty Lake Trailhead
Round Trip: 10.4 miles
Elevation Range: 840′-1300′
Gear: none
GPS Track: available
Dog-Friendly: yes

Potholes Coulee

I love my coulees. But so far this year, we have been in Eastern Washington one time too many. I couldn’t find a new place on this rainy day, so we made another trip out east. Later, we drove up to a filled lot because of the late start.

Soon, we walked south on one of the many trails. Like before, we made a counterclockwise loop through the coulee rim. As we walked toward the southwest end, I spotted a few runners here for the first time.

Going up to the tower
Going up to the tower

See more trip photos here.

Dusty Lake

We scrambled up the notch through the steep west slopes from the southwest edge. Then atop the plateau, we walked east to Dusty Lake. We’ve made the same high point south of the lake our turnaround spot for most of our visits.

Dusty Lake doesn’t see as much traffic from what I’ve seen. Perhaps the number of pools on the Ancient Lakes side has more appeal. But I enjoy the south coulee for the solitude. Even with an ultra-wide lens, I couldn’t fit the entire lake in the frame.

Dusty Lake west view
Dusty Lake west view

See more trip photos here.

Onward to the Upper Coulee

Afterward, we continued east and dropped to Cliff Lake to walk around the east shore. We spotted two people on a break as we walked above the lake to the gap north of the water. Then we went down the other side into the north coulee.

Soon, we went back up to the plateau. Then from there, we walked to one of the several high points atop the rim. It’s the best place to view all three big ponds directly above the south Ancient Lake.

Potholes Coulee panoramic view
Potholes Coulee panoramic view

See more trip photos here.

Outro

It was a busy day, indeed! We saw many groups coming and going, plus two tents by the lakes. Most people came to hang out by the water. So we were better off being high up to enjoy the views and solitude.

Afterward, we went down to the coulee floor through the old roadbed south of the main trail. Then I let the pups cool off in one of the small ponds before continuing west. Soon, we were making our way north back to the trailhead.

Time to say goodbye
Time to say goodbye

See more trip photos here.

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