This beautiful lake at the southern end of the Olympic National Forest remains undeveloped and little
visited. The only signs of man are the dam at the bottom of the lake, a campground and park, and a trail
around the lake. The rest of the lakeshore is all wild and ringed by forest and hills.
The lake is reached from the south at Montesano up the Wynoochee Valley Road or from the west at
Humptulips over the Donkey Creek Road. Both routes about 37 miles. These had been dirt roads, but we
found half of the Donkey Creek Road to be paved and the rest in excellent condition in August without
even a pothole. When we reached the lake, we saw that a paving project was going on from the
Montensano direction, so perhaps the entire road will be paved.
The road brings you first to a bridge over the Wynoochee canyon where the Wynoochee Dam has been
placed. The dam has a nice overlook and visitor center with photos of the dam's construction and
restrooms. After a quick stop here, we continued to the day use area of the nearby campground.
On a hot August day, there were perhaps a dozen families on the whole lake. My kids were drawn
immediately to the swimming area with a diving platform off shore. After a picnic, we drove over to the
boat ramp and launched our kayaks.
We crossed the lake and explored a dead end alcove, thinking it might have been a river. Next, we
headed north up the far shore to a point jutting out into the lake. This turned out to be a more primitive
campground where we found two families and a gravel boat ramp. We played here along the lakeshore,
the kids chucking rocks into the water. We then noticed that dozens of tiny little frogs were hopping
around at our feet. They seemed to be babies that finding their way in the world.
There was plenty of lake to our north yet to explore, but the sun was starting to set. We crossed back
over the lake with the bright, setting sun in our eyes and entered into the shadow of the hills about half
way across. It seemed to take us longer to paddle back to the boat ramp than it had taken the other way.
We had a light wind against us.
Next time we will come better prepared: swimsuits, sunscreen, water toys, a picnic for two meals, and
we'll plan to spend more time at the lake. Two miles beyond the north end of the lake, I've read that there
is a very nice waterfall. We'll hike or boat+hike up there. We'll allow more time for swimming and play
Be sure to fill up the car with gas before departing for the lake. There are no services anywhere near the
lake. No pass is required to park in this area. A $5 boat ramp fee should be paid to the camp host.
Fishing on Lake Wynoochee
Wynoochee Lakeshore Trail
by Bob Kelly
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