Tucked away in the tree-covered foothills of the Cascade Mountain range, Lake Easton State Park is a must-see for anyone who loves the outdoors. Less than an hour and a half from Seattle, it’s a popular destination for urbanites looking to escape the city’s grey clouds and growing urban sprawl. Situated in a glacial valley 2,200 feet above sea level, it’s not uncommon to catch clear skies and warm sun, a rarity in this part of the Pacific Northwest.
The park’s scenic hiking trails and calm waters make it perfect for nature lovers and water athletes alike. Families can enjoy swimming, kayaking, horseback riding, and wildlife viewing, among other activities. Fishers will particularly love this spot as Lake Easton and the joining Yakima River provide some of the best fishing in Washington. Even people unfamiliar with the great outdoors will appreciate the park’s shady grounds, modern amenities, and fully-equipped RV sites.
During the winter, visitors can witness the icy majesty of the Cascade Mountains first hand while taking advantage of the off-season solitude. The park’s gorgeous hiking trails become great paths for cross country skiing and the surrounding areas also provide opportunities for downhill skiing and snowmobiling.
A mere 70 miles from Seattle and under 40 miles from Ellensburg, Lake Easton State Park is easy to get to by car or RV. Its location less than a mile from Easton, WA, immediately off Interstate 90, which makes getting there a breeze.
The Iron Horse Trail runs the length of the park and will take you just about anywhere you need to go. The boat launch, resort, ranger station, and RV campsites are all situated just off this road. The roads in the campgrounds themselves are a combination of easy to navigate paved and gravel roads. The southern campsites, as well as the Yakima River Dam, are accessible via Lake Easton State Park Road. However, the western and southern shores of the lake are only reachable via hiking trails.
Additional overnight parking for RVs is located on the northeastern shore just beyond the boat launch.
The Lake Easton State Park Campground is equipped with 45 full-utility RV sites that can fit vehicles up to 60 feet in length. Each site has water, electricity, and sewer hookups, as well as a firepit with a hibachi-style grill and a picnic table. Some of the campsites also accommodate tents. Generator use is permitted from 8 AM to 9 PM. Campground amenities include ADA-accessible restrooms, coin-operated hot showers, and a trailer dump station. Firewood and bags of crushed ice are also available for purchase. Campers may check-in as early as 2:30 PM. Check out is at 1 PM. RV campsites are available year-round.
Birders who are planning to visit Lake Easton State Park will want to make sure that their birding kits are with them, packed inside of their trailers. Along with an assortment of the fairly common lake and forest birds, such as magpies, crows, herons, Canada geese, mourning doves, and several varieties of sparrows, you may get the opportunity to spot a few less-seen birds. Endangered and threatened avian species make their homes here too, like species such as the greater sage-grouse and the sandhill crane. There are a large number of birds of prey that live and hunt in the park as well. Bald eagles and osprey hunt fish in the lake and American kestrels, red-tailed hawks, spotted owls, and merlins hunt in forests dominated by ponderosa pines.
The lake is a stunning, picturesque place with blue water that is surrounded by tall, green pine trees. The landscape gives photographers a pleasant backdrop to set up panoramic shots. In the autumn, the forest paths are lined with red, orange, and yellow-colored changing leaves, and in the winter, the park is covered with a gentle blanket of white that begs to be captured on film. If you are fortunate and patient enough, you may be able to capture one of the animals that graze in these forests like bighorn sheep, white-tailed or mule deer, mountain goats, and elk. Those that prefer to photograph smaller subjects will love the variety of colorful plants, small animals, and insects. Some of the smaller creatures, perfect for shooting little details, are the rare and threatened specimens like Sheridan's Hairstreak and Western Pine Elfin butterflies, or critically endangered animals like the northern leopard frog or little brown bat.
In the winter, Lake Easton’s beautiful hiking trails take on a whole new appearance. Covered in snow, these paths become excellent routes for cross-country skiing and snowshoeing. There is also a groomed trail system that is maintained by the Lake Easton State Park known as the Lake Easton Sno-Park. It is one of several Sno-Parks along the I-90, and Lake Easton is typically one of the quieter parks. This area requires a seasonal permit, and no dogs or snowshoes are allowed on these trails. There are easy loops such as the Alley Oop and the Going Home Loop, or more challenging loops like the black-diamond treks with steeper areas, like the Wait Station Loop.
There’s nothing like a day on the water, whether that means relaxing in an inner tube or cruising along in a kayak. Luckily, Lake Easton has both options. The park offers a boat ramp, making it easier and safer to get your vessel in the water, as well as 20 feet of dock to help you guide your watercraft away from the shore. Be careful when cruising around in your boat in Lake Easton because the lake is shallow in parts and stumps can stick out of the surface and cause damage to your boat. Though motorized boating is allowed, motors are limited to ten horsepower as a safety precaution so that everyone can share the water peaceably. Watercraft launch opens up in April, weather permitting.
Tow your bass boat into the water with your campervan, and you can head out onto the lake and cast your line. The best time for catching fish on this lake is in late May when you’ll have a better chance of landing a rainbow trout or Westslope Cutthroat trout. If you’re lucky and patient, you might also end up catching a Chinook salmon, a steelhead, or a mountain whitefish. Fly-fishing enthusiasts will also be delighted to stay at this park. The Yakima River to the south of the lake is known to offer the best catch and release fly-fishing in the state of Washington.
With six-and-a-half miles of scenic hiking trails, you’ll want to make sure you bring your best boots. These well-groomed paths are an easy walk for most, meaning you can bring the whole family along. A pleasant stroll around the lake provides lovely views of the water, forests, and surrounding mountains. For more intrepid hikers, the John Wayne Pioneer Trail merges with the southern portion of the loop. Follow this famous route, and you’ll eventually find yourself in Cedar Falls to the west or Idaho in the east. If your leashed pet accompanies you on your trek, please be sure to clean up after it.