Lake Kapowsin Aquatic Reserve

Lake Kapowsin is the eighth aquatic reserve, and is the first freshwater aquatic reserve. Stumps and woody structure, along with shoreline forest and fringing wetlands provide habitat for fish, amphibians, migratory birds, otters, and beavers. The aquatic reserve designation protects this unique gem of a lake for those who enjoy hunting, fishing, birdwatching, and boating.

About the Reserve

Lake Kapowsin Aquatic Reserve is located in eastern Pierce County just west of Mount Rainier National Park in the foothills of the Cascades and encompasses 475 acres of state-owned aquatic lands. The lake has a unique geologic history – it was formed 500 years ago when the Electron Mudflow dammed Kapowsin Creek and flooded the forested valley.  Tree stumps and logs from the submerged forest are still visible today and provide habitat for species such as steelhead, Cutthroat trout, and Northwestern salamander. The serene setting, forested shoreline, and the location of a  Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife water access site makes the lake a popular boating, sport fishing, and waterfowl hunting destination.

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WDFW Water Access Site

Washington Department of Wildlife water access site. For more information, click here.


Electron Mudflow

The Electron Mudflow began as an avalanche of hydrothermally altered rock high on Mount Rainier’s west flank near Sunset Amphitheater, but its onset cannot be correlated with volcanism. Possible triggers include an eruption so small its tephra is not preserved, hydrothermal explosions, or an earthquake. Regardless of triggering mechanism, the Electron avalanche was aided by hydrothermally weakened and voluminous water-saturated clay-rich rocks west of the summit area. The lahar was highly fluid and flowed 100 km (60 mi) downstream to the Puget Sound lowland. When it entered the Puget Sound lowland in the community of Electron, it was 30 m (98 ft) deep.

The Electron Mudflow reminds us of the possibility that, occasionally, lahars may have non–eruption origins and thus may occur with little conventional volcanic warning.

Fishing & Hunting

The new WDFW access along the north shore is open and provides a boat ramp, dock, and parking.

Kapowsin Lake is open year-round and offers good fishing opportunity for largemouth bass, black crappie, yellow perch, pumpkinseed sunfish, and rock bass.  The lake is also stocked yearly with rainbow trout to provide a diverse fishing experience.

Fishing Prospects Calendar

Waterfowl Hunting is seasonal.

Hunting Prospects


Marine debris, both floating in the water and washed up on shore, threatens all types of life in the Reserve. From tire to beer can disposal, Lake Kapowsin has suffered it all.

Shoreline Modification

Sediment pollution from upland properties continue to modify the shoreline

Climate Change

Intensity of both the Wet and the Dry seasons will impact both the water temperature for both bird and fish habitat.


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