Check it out Distance: 9 miles round trip Difficulty: Moderate Paddling time: 2-5 hours Season: March through Nov. Maps: USGS Banks Lake, Moses Lake
Info: Washington Fish and Wildlife Department (509) 754-4624
Paddle tour notes
Access: From the junction with U.S. Highway 2 west of Coulee City, Wash., drive south on Highway 17 about 16 miles (to milepost 80.2) and turn west on unmarked dirt track that winds down to put-in point at south end of Lake Lenore. North end put-in is at milepost 84.8. Access to Lenore Caves is nearby on opposite (east) side of highway.
Milepost mileage should be helpful to paddlers northbound on Highway 17 from Moses Lake area.
As you drive south from Highway 2, take note of Dry Falls overlook (2 miles south of junction) and entrance to Sun Lakes State Park (3-2/3 miles south of junction), where camping’s available.
Attractions: Paddle in path of great floods that carved Grand Coulee roughly 15,000 years ago. Lake Lenore, 4-1/2 miles long, is bordered on west by cliffs that drop precipitously more than 1,200 feet from canyon rim. Weather particularly delightful spring and fall, which coincides with best fishing for large Lahontan cutthroat trout ranging to 6 pounds. Lake popular with anglers but remains quiet since laws prohibit boats with gasoline motors.
Other nearby attractions include Dry Falls overlook, fossil beds and Lake Lenore caves, shallow depressions where nomadic cave dwellers sought shelter thousands of years ago.
Comments: Lake generally ice-capped December through February. Spawning cutthroat trout visible along shores, particularly at north end of lake in March, April. Fishing open March 1 through Nov. 30, but only for catch-and-release fishing during March, April and May. See Washington fishing regulations pamphlet for special rules.
Homes at south end are only residential or commercial development on Lenore, which is mostly surrounded by state land.
Access available at four points on east shore of lake, including three access points along 1-mile stretch north of southern put-in.
Little description needed for paddlers following this route. Put in at either end of lake, depending on wind, and hug west shore, where there’s no road, trails or development along cliffs.
Anglers congregate at north and south ends, leaving middle mostly deserted. Listen for chukar partridge clucking in cliffs above. At several points, paddlers can pull boats out onto rocks and scramble up scree slopes to plateaus midway up cliffs for good views and hiking. Watch for rattlesnakes.
Waters that burst from glacial Lake Missoula around 15,000 years ago raced through area at 65 mph, nearly 10 times faster than any flood in modern times. Volume of water in one of these floods (geologists say several occurred over several thousand years) was roughly equivalent to 10 times combined flow of all rivers on earth.
No resorts on Lenore, but resorts at other nearby lakes include Sun Village, (509) 632-5291, at southeast corner of Park Lake, and Blue Lake Resort, (509) 632-5364, at south end of Blue Lake. Other contacts include Sun Lakes State Park at (509) 632-5583, Coulee City Chamber of Commerce at (509) 632-5043, and Soap Lake Chamber of Commerce at (509) 246-1821.
, DataTimes ILLUSTRATION: Map of area
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