Friday, October 28, 2016

Soda Lake, Grant County, Washington

Soda Lake (154.1 acres, Elevation 1,002 ft)
Soda Lake is the largest of the lakes in the Columbia National Wildlife Refuge and Sheep Lakes area, and the deepest at around 100'. Soda Lakes west shore is on the wildlife boundaries and the east shore is within state lands called the Sheep Lakes area. All camping and recreational lake access is on the west shoreline. Swimming is not allowed on wildlife refuge lands but is ok in the State Sheep Lake lands so crossing the lake to the east shore is where you can swim. The Potholes Canal enters the northwest end of the lake and exists the southeast end, basically this is a real wide section of the canal. Fisherman with power boats travel up the canal going north near toward the dam. I would not recommend paddling a kayak or canoe north on this
canal as the currents a very very strong and besides there really is nothing to see but rock canal walls. Out of all the lakes in this area this lake is best suited for sailing due to it being the widest and deepest lake allowing for some fabulous sailing. At the North end of the lake is a primitive boat launch and developed camp ground primarily suited for tent camping (no hookups or drinking water available). On the south end of the lake is a gravel boat launch (with no camping allowed) and is closest to the dam. Non-motorized light weight craft can portage around the dam by exiting before the short canal that leads to the dam on the north side as you near the canal to the dam, then take the narrow trail pass the dam, and drop ones kayak into the canal over a high ledge that is about 4 feet from the water (make sure to have a line tied to you so the current does not carry it away). The important thing is not to enter the short canal to the dam at all because once in it, it's unlikely you will be able to get out of it due to the strong currents, plus the vertical walls in this canal would make it near impossible to climb out. There is also an extreme level of under-toe at this dam as well. Click here to read the about the trip we did that took us from the start of canal all the way to Othello. Also visit the Potholes Canal and Chain Lake section of this website by clicking on this link for more info. Most popular activities on this lake include fishing, wildlife viewing, kayaking/canoeing, sailing, swimming. Fishing: Black Crappie, Bluegill, Carp, Largemouth and Smallmouth Bass, Rainbow Trout, Walleye, Yellow Perch, Panfish. For fishing and other area rules visit http://www.fws.gov/columbia/ . Directions: From Moses Lake take HWY 17 south toward Othello; turn right (west) on HWY 262/O'Sullivan Dam Road. Before crossing the O'Sullivan Dam and after just passing the entrance to the Potholes Reservoir boat launch on your left/south is Soda Lake Road. Follow this road to either the sign indicating the Soda Lake Campground with launch or proceed further and take left at the next sign indicating Soda Lake which brings you to another boat launch without campgroud. Maps: To view a map click on google.com/maps and type in Soda Lake, Grant County, WA. or type in GPS coordinates 46.963294, -119.237322

Boat Launches and Campground

1. Soda Lake Campground Launch. This site includes primitive rocky gravel boat launch, developed campsites/campground, accessible restrooms, covered picnic tables, fire pits, day parking, rocky shore line, no drinking water. MarDon Resort is about 4 miles from this campground. See Directions above in main body of text. Maps: To view a map click on google.com/maps and type in Soda Lake, Grant County, WA. or type in GPS coordinates 
46.969021, -119.247149
ACCESSIBILITY: PARKING... Gravel, sand, dirt combo parking areas; PATHS/TRAILS... Lots of dirt, sand, and gravel trails, none of which are designated as wheelchair accessible; RESTROOMS/FACILITIES/SHADE… One fully accessible restrooms. Covered picnic areas. No trees; DOCKS/LAUNCHES/PLATFORMS… One wide gravel, rocky, sandy, muddy launch. No docks or platforms; DIRECT WATER ACCESS… No access for wheeled mobility devices. Access water via wide rough launch when no powerboats are present, assistance likely needed. Mud is deep in the water; TRANSFER SYSTEMS... None; SENSORY... No sensory tactile markers for those with visual and other impairments; CAMPING... Developed primitive camping; O.T.H.E.R… Oddities/Barriers: Lots of sand and deep mud during wet times of the year at launch area. Other than at launch area there are cliffs along camping area along lake shore; Terrain: Level to about 7% grades. Cliff next to campground and in area; H2O/Water: Water normally murky. Water temperature in the summer can be around 60 to 70 degree. Drinking water not available; Environmental Conditions: High winds and hot summer temperatures; Resources: Food, drinks, and gas in Potholes Reservoir resort area.


2. Soda Lake Dike Road Launch
This site includes primitive gravel rocky boat launch, day parking, rocky shore line, no drinking water. MarDon Resort is about 6 miles from this launch. See Directions above in main body of text. Maps: To view a map click on google.com/maps and type in Soda Lake, Grant County, WA. or type in GPS coordinates 
46.955915, -119.239609
ACCESSIBILITY: PARKING... Gravel, sand, dirt combo parking areas; PATHS/TRAILS... None; RESTROOMS/FACILITIES/SHADE… No restrooms (fully accessible restroom up the road at Soda Lake Campground). Covered picnic areas. No trees; DOCKS/LAUNCHES/PLATFORMS… One wide gravel, rocky, sandy, muddy launch. No docks or platforms; DIRECT WATER ACCESS… No access for wheeled mobility devices. Access water via wide rough launch when no powerboats are present, assistance likely needed. Mud is deep in the water; TRANSFER SYSTEMS... None; SENSORY... No sensory tactile markers for those with visual and other impairments; CAMPING... No. Camping up the road at Soda Lake Campground; O.T.H.E.R… Oddities/Barriers: Lots of sand and deep mud during wet times of the year at launch area. Other than at launch area there are cliffs along camping area along lake shore; Terrain: Level to about 5% grade; H2O/Water: Water normally murky. Water temperature in the summer can be around 60 to 70 degree. Drinking water not available; Environmental Conditions: High winds and hot summer temperatures; Resources: Food, drinks, and gas in Potholes Reservoir resort area.


PORTAGE AROUND SODA LAKE DAM
Non-motorized light weight craft can portage around the dam by exiting before the short canal that leads to the dam on the north side via a wide rocky gradual slooping area that lead up to the dam, then take the narrow trail pass the dam, and drop ones kayak into the canal over a cliff like bank (4-9 feet from the surface depending on water level). Make sure to have a line tied to your craft so the current does not carry it away. The important thing is not to enter the short canal to the dam at all because once in it, it's unlikely you will be able to get out of it due to the strong currents, plus the vertical walls in this canal would make it near impossible to climb out. There is also an extreme level of under-toe at this dam as well. Click here to read the about the trip we did that took us from the start of canal near the O'Sullivan Dam at the Potholes Reservoir, through all the chain lakes, and then all the way to the town of Othello, WA. Also visit the Potholes Canal and Chain Lake section of this website by clicking on this link for more info.
ACCESSIBILITY: Not accessible to wheeled mobility devices.

Portage Take-Out (dam not in picture but is to the left in this pic).
 Portage Put-In short distance down current from dam
Sail yak resting at Put-In site. Notice how high the top of the bank is from the water, about 9 feet. This pic was taken in mid September when the water level is real low.

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