When staying in Packwood you are so close to so many small and large mountain lakes.
West of Packwood are what I call the large lakes, Riffe, Mossyrock and Mayfield. These lakes support large boats and jet skis. Mayfield Lake is the most popular with a great marina, beach and picnic area. You can rent a boat, jet ski or wave runner for a great rate. We rent a wave runner. Our kids will always say it was the best vacation they’ve ever had. We usually make it a whole day. The lake is 40 miles west of Packwood on highway 12. We set up at the Mayfield Lake Park under the trees (get there early in summer). They do have charcoal grills and picnic tables so BBQing hamburgs and hot dogs with macaroni salad and chips is a must. After setting up, my friend and I unload the kayaks and head to the marina to pick up the wave runner. On a sunny day there is no better rush than gliding across this pristine lake at 60MPH or pulling the kids on the tube (came with the waverunner) and hearing them laugh and watching them fall off into the cool water. For a few hundred dollars you get a whole afternoon of family fun. We usually pack up as the sun is setting and head back east to Packwood. We can’t pass Morton without stopping at Spiffys and getting a huge soft serve ice cream (go left off highway 12 into Morton and take your first right and Spiffys outside food window is on the right). Both Mossyrock and Riffe lakes are just as beautiful and pristine and there are so many spots to picnic, swim, kayak or fish.
East of Packwood are what I call the “small lakes”. We love getting up early in the morning and head to town first to get a freshly roasted coffee and muffin. The Mt Goat Coffee shop is in the center of Packwood and in the morning IS the center of Packwood. They have some of the best coffee anywhere! Grab a mocha and take a pound with you. It’s fresh, smooth and the staff is friendly and helpful. Head east up highway 12 towards White Pass Ski Area. The first small lake is Leech Lake direct across the highway from the ski area behind the condos. This is the lake that you cross country ski around in the winter with groomed trails. In summer you can hike, camp, swim and picnic. But we have come to kayak. Access to the east end is located right after the White Pass store on the left. All these areas are fee areas so bring $5 with you to fill out the envelope and place it in your car. The put in is a short way in to the left. This small lake is a gem for sure. The surrounding peaks are spectacular but the best view is of the ski area itself. You feel like you are in a commercial for Sun Valley with the ski lifts and trails looming over the lake. As the sun comes up the water is glistening like silver, the fish are jumping and the geese are squacking. All of these lakes are so clear and clean you can see the bottoms with fish and grasses. There is nothing like being out in the middle with the sun in your face. The peace is complete stress detox. Spend an hour or take the family to any of these lakes for a day of fun and food!
The second small lake is a short drive down highway 12 east. To the left is Dog Lake. There is a put in and parking on the west end at the campsite. This lake has a dramatic rock covered mountain at one end. You can see this shale covered hill from the ski trails in the winter. At one end is a literal bird sanctuary. We observed an eagle in her nest at the top of a dead tree. She was protecting her young and watching over the lake as if this was her military outpost. We wanted her to swoop down and fly but she never moved from the edge of that nest that morning. Again this is another great spot to spend the day with the family or a few hours in the morning before returning to the cabin for a big brunch.
The third lake is Clear Lake. Head east again on highway 12 towards Yakima and about 10 more miles from Dog Lake you will see the turn off to the right. How is it that you come to a place to vacation for years and never explore these areas? Someone told me about Clear Lake years ago but this was my first time to experience it. WOW what a jewel. This lake is on the east side of the Cascades so if it’s cloudy in Packwood you can bet it’s clear and sunny at Clear Lake. Only a few miles in this mountainous area reveals the blue water to the left. It is the largest of the 3 small lakes. The day area is located to the left as well. There is a covered picnic area with charcoal grills, bathrooms and docks to fish off of. There is a large shallow sandy area where you can walk across the lake. Clear Lake is surrounded by mountain peaks with a real cool island in the middle. Kayak out to the island and take a nap on the soft grasses and enjoy the views. They do allow small motor boats on the lake but because it’s off the beaten path location it’s never really crowded. It is a hidden gem and one of the best small lakes to spend the day with the family.
The fourth lake…oh bonus, there is a fourth? Yes there is! But it’s not small by any means, it’s Rim Rock Lake. This is just a few miles east of Clear Lake on highway 12. This large lake has campgrounds along it’s shore with put ins for ski and fishing boats. At the far end is the dam and the start of the Tieton River. In September they let out the water so that rafters can hit the white water. So come back for a September weekend to remember. Stay Friday night at the cabin, head up to raft Saturday, return to the cabin for a great meal and campfire and head back home Sunday morning. See our blog article about rafting the Tieton.
We hope you enjoyed this article. To book one of our Packwood Cabins for a lakes getaway go here at www.greatnorthwestcabins.com or call us anyday from 9-9 PST at 503-492-8783 for information and reservations!