Directions From Ellensburg take Umptanum Road south out of town. As you drive through fields, take a right on Manastash Road. If you start going uphill on Umptanum Road you've missed Manastash Road. Follow Manastash Road about 20 miles or so, most of the way on gravel. The road is usually fine for passenger cars to Buck Meadows. At the end of a large rock field on the left, turn of on a one-lane road as it goes uphill and to the left to find the main parking area and trailhead. If you miss this, you may choose to start at a smaller signed trailhead just off the main road on the left-hand side. A little more climbing is involved if starting from this trailhead, and there is less parking available.
Not finding it yet? If you reach Buck Meadows, turn around. The small trailhead is about 1/4 mile from Buck Meadows, toward town. The side road to the main trailhead is maybe another 1/4 mile beyond that.
Manastash Lake is a great early season hike, but don't expect it to be totally snow free until after Memorial Day. In May 1999, after an exceptionally heavy snow season, most of the trail was covered in 3 feet of snow to Lost Lake. We never made it to Manastash Lake that year. Except when snow covers it, the trail is easy to follow trail with good backcountry campsites along both Lost Lake and Manstash Lake.
This is a trail we love to do at least once a year especially with my younger cousin. Easy to Manastash Lake with only a couple switchbacks. The trail can be hiked in three to four hours roundtrip (10 miles) or can be used as a overnighter. I would also recommend following the trail that climbs above Manastash Lake to the 4wd roads that offer beautiful views of Mt. Rainier and the Stuart Range.
Written 2008~ (Alicia) Especially in the last 6 years or so, this trail has become extremely popular for dirt bikers. Memorial Day and Labor Day were once fairly safe for the hiker, mountain biker, and horse rider. Now most of these days the valleys echo with the sounds of dirt bikes. I don't particularly mind dirt bikes using the trails responsibly, but when the sound echos off the valleys by the lakes it is very hard to hear where they are at. I personally have had to scramble off the trail several times to avoid being hit. Not the relaxing weekend of meandering through the forest that I'd hoped for. The point is: be cautious and hike on weekdays if possible. If you must hike on a weekend, avoid Memorial Day, Labor Day, and Fourth of July weekends. Remember that although dirt bikes get the right of way (how could they not?), you may not be able to get out of their way in time if you're not paying attention.
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