Lake Kapowsin Aquatic Reserve

 Lake Kapowsin Aquatic Reserve

About the Aquatic Reserve

Lake Kapowsin is a 512-acre low elevation lake in eastern Pierce County and is the Washington Department of Natural Resources' first freshwater aquatic reserve. The lush vegetated shorelines of Lake Kapowsin and plentiful natural habitat make Lake Kapowsin a popular hunting, fishing and boating destination. In addition, the lake has a unique origin story and geologic legacy.  

Lake Kapowsin Aquatic Reserve At-A-Glance

  • Designated in 2016
  • Size - 475 acres of state-owned aquatic land
  • Significant species - Coho salmon, Northwestern salamander and purple martins
  • Important habitats - Extensive wetlands, woody debris and vegetated shoreline
  • Management Plan (2016)
  • Commissioner's Order (2016)
Lake Kapowsin Aquatic Reserve map
Click here or on the image above to launch the Aquatic Reserves Program Data Viewer. 

Species and Habitats 

Purple martin at Lake KapowsinWetlands at Lake KapowsinKayakers at Lake Kapowsin
Lake Kapowsin was created 500 years ago when the Electron Mudflow rushed down the Puyallup Valley from Mt. Rainier and dammed Kapowsin Creek flooding the valley floor and drowning the native forest. Tree stumps from this ancient forest remain in the lake today and provide valuable habitat for fish, birds, amphibians and invertebrates. 
Extensive shrub and emergent wetlands at the north and south ends of the lake and fringing wetlands along the shoreline provide habitat for many small mammals and amphibians.
The lake supports a range of native and stocked sport fish, including coho salmon, steelhead, cutthroat salmon, rainbow trout, largemouth bass, yellow perch, rock bass, black crappie, bluegill, pumpkinseed sunfish, walleye, and bullhead catfish.

Citizen Stewardship

The Friends of Lake Kapowsin Aquatic Reserve (FOLK) committee organizes volunteer trail maintenance and trash clean-ups, performs community outreach and serves as stewards of the reserve. The committee includes interested community members, recreational users, government agencies and non-profit organizations that work to implement the Lake Kapowsin Aquatic Reserve Management Plan goals and objectives. 

Science and Monitoring 

Explore science and monitoring projects conducted on the Lake Kapowsin Aquatic Reserve in the Aquatic Reserves StoryMap Collection. In addition, the Aquatic Reserves Program Data Viewer is an interactive map with monitoring data collected by the Aquatic Reserves Program and Citizen Stewardship Committees. Click here to view the interactive map.

Reports and Links