One of many high lakes in Washington stateTrout Fishing in Washington's High Elevation Lakes

Created by colliding tectonic plates, and carved by glaciers and ice, high mountain lakes in Washington offer anglers a recreational experience unmatched by any other waters in the state. The fishing is spectacular in these high elevation gems but the experience is punctuated by fantastic camping, hiking, wildlife watching and the scenic vistas taken in during your stay, and travels to and from these unique angling opportunities. Without a doubt, high lakes trout fishing is one of Washington's premier recreational opportunities.

There are about 1,600 lakes that are considered "high" lakes, at elevations of more than 2,500 feet above sea level in western Washington. East of the Cascades, nearly 950 lakes lie above 3,500 feet, which qualifies them as high lakes. Only a small percentage of our high lakes have introduced fish populations. Some are self-sustaining trout populations, while others are stocked periodically with a variety of trout species. However, the majority of high elevation lakes remain fishless.


High Lakes Overview Map


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Portions of this document were originally published in SignPost for Northwest Trails, April 1986. It was edited and reprinted by the Department of Wildlife from 1987-1994. This version was adapted from a revision by Gerry Erickson of the Washington State Hi-Lakers, Bob Pfeifer and Susan Ewing of  WFDW and revised by Chris Donley of WDFW in June 2014.

Photos provided by Bob Pfeifer of WDFW, Eric Anderson of WDFW, Jim Cummins of WDFW, Brian Curtis of Washington Washington State Trail Blazers and Rex Johnson of Washington State Trail Blazers.