LAKE LENORE — Just off Highway 17, between Soap Lake and Coulee City, rests a series of caves in Lenore Canyon overlooking Lake Lenore. Guiding along the ridge, the Lake Lenore Caves Trail allows visitors to explore these rock shelter caves overlooking the scenery below.
The caves were formed when the basalt cliffside was carved out by the Missoula floods near the end of the last Ice Age. There is evidence that caves were used as shelter by Native Americans who called the Columbia Basin their home as far back as 5,000 years ago.
Overlooking much of Lenore Canyon, including Lake Lenore and Alkali Lake, the trail into the State Heritage Park allows visitors to traverse the ridge and visit the handful of shallow caves present in the area.
The trail varies between dirt, rock and pavement along the 1.5 mile round trip hike, beginning with a staircase carved right into the rock which takes hikers up towards the caves. Traversing the area gives patrons both a chance to explore the rock-laden caves as well as take in the spanning views of the waters, plantlike, and canyon surrounding them.
Following the trail past each of the caves, varying in size and depth, takes you to the largest cave resting below the trail. The large cave provides a shady resting point to take in the time and history laden within the rocky terrain, before making the return to the parking lot at the trailhead.
The Lake Lenore Caves are a great place to witness various birds and wildlife that call the area home, including rattlesnakes, which are best left alone if encountered on the trek. A Discover Pass is required for visitors who make the journey to the park. With only a short trip off the highway to reach the trail, the caves make for a great pit stop for travelers making their way through the area.