Hiking and Trail Running the Wallowa Mountains & Eagle Cap Wilderness

The Wallowa Mountains offer remote and rugged hiking opportunities in Northeast Oregon. The Eagle Cap Wilderness is in the heart of the Wallowas, located east of La Grande and Baker City, with popular entries from the north out of Enterprise and Joseph.

Location

United States
45° 14' 3.4188" N, 117° 27' 17.4024" W

Aneroid Lake Trail

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This hike from near Wallowa Lake, heads into the Eagle Cap Wilderness and arrives at Aneroid Lake. The trial is fairly steep at the start, but mellows out about halfway to the lake. Roger Lake is passed just before reading Aneroid Lake. A group of private cabins are at the south end of the lake. Aneroid Mountain and Pete's Point are nearby.

Notes

Arrow Lake

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This is a moderate hike to a lake with a magnificent view. The trail starts at and follows Eagle Creek through the canyon. At 3.4 miles, after crossing Copper Creek there is a trail junction. Go left at this junction. The sign indicates the trail is not maintained. The trail is a bit rocky but otherwise good. From here, the trail starts climbing rapidly which makes it the toughest stretch. The trail does level out as it goes through a meadow near Heart Lake, although the lake is not visible from the trail.

Catherine Creek State Park Trail

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This short trail is well build and interesting for a trail run or taking the family on a hike. It switches back steeply to gain a ridge for a loop that includes a couple rock outcropping overlooks. The dense forest and serene crossings of Catherine Creek, make this a fantastic summer hike.

Chief Joseph Mountain Summit

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Climb a mile above beautiful Wallowa Lake to summit this overbearing land feature above Joseph. On a clear day the summit offers an astounding view of the Wallowa Valley and an even more breath-taking view of all of the big peaks of the Wallowas to the south. It is the 12th highest summit in Oregon. During summer, the approach consists of steep trail hiking, loose dirt up to the ridge, and then scree and rock walking to the summit (basically what most every climb in the Wallowas is like).

Chimney Lake

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The is a physically challenging 5 mile hike up to Chimney Lake. The trail climbs in switchback fashion from the campground to the lake. Laverty Lakes is a serene stop as you near the lake.

Notes:

  • Start: Bowman Trailhead up the Lostine River (South of Lostine, Oregon)
  • Northwest forest pass required

China Cap Summit

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China Cap is a popular climb for people on the west side of the Wallowas because it is a fairly docile hike up a trail until the final few hundred yards. The cliff on the north side is quite impressive, so be careful scrambling up the ridge. Make sure to sign in at the register on the summit!

Notes

  • The trail begins at Buck Creek Campground.
  • A Northwest Forest Pass is required at the trailhead

Eagle Cap Summit

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Eagle Cap is a giant mound of sandy soil and rock in the middle of the Wallowa Mountains, offering a 360 view of all the peaks and several lakes. It is the only mountain in the Eagle Cap Wilderness with an official trail to the summit, and offers virtually no technical challenge, other than some good fitness if you want to summit in one day. Wilderness camping opportunities abound around this mountain, so planning a summit for a one day trip from camp is a good option. Glacier Peak is just to the south.

Glacier Peak Summit

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This tasty summit in the heart of the Wallowa Mountains is a rocky climb with a bit of scrambling on very loose rock. The summit is a somewhat narrow ridge that is accessible from the Lakes Management Basin. The route here is shown starting at Glacier Lake, climbing to the summit and then traversing over to Eagle Cap Summit. There is no established trail. The route up includes hiking on talus or snow. The northern ridge toward Eagle Cap includes a hairy descent off the summit on some crumbling rock.

Huckleberry Mountain Summit

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A fairly aggressive but consistent climb on a trail that takes you fairly businesslike to a ridge that unveils a cool summit in the very north end of the Wallowa Mountains. Huckleberry Mountain does have huckleberries on it but they're pretty high up so expect to see them late in the season but you might be too out of breath to enjoy them. As the trail eases up before the ridge, there are some camping options that are fairly sheltered.

Hunter Falls Trail

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This is a short hike up to a series of cascades. The trail is near the Lostine Guard Station, but you can start down lower on a trailhead marked "Interpretive Trail" that is just up the road from Williamson Campground. The nature trail follows along the river and then goes up and crosses the road where you pick up the Hunter Falls trail. It is a short hike to the falls that is good for all ages. The trail continues on up the mountain, but is not an official trail on a map.

Minam Lodge & Reds Horse Ranch (From Moss Springs)

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This is a mostly downhill hike from Moss Springs to the Minam Lodge, also going past Reds Horse Ranch and the airfield there.

Mt. Howard Summit Loop Trail

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This hiking loop gives you the 360 degree panorama of the Wallowas, Seven Devils, Wallowa Lake, and the valley below. Usually it is accessed by the Wallowa Lake Tramway.

Mule Peak, Sand Pass Loop (Trail 1912)

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This is a good hike or run loop with some great views of the western side of the Wallowas. It is strenuous from an elevation gain standpoint, but worth the trip when you arrive at Mule Peak Lookout, an active fire service structure that is manned during certain times of the summer.

Norway Basin Trail 1896

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Much of this route travels steeply up an old mining road. Once you come over a saddle and into Norway Basin, the views of Red Mountain and the rugged terrain in the basin are magnificent. The trail becomes singletrack for the remainder as it eventually gains the saddle where it connects with the Sugarloaf Trail, which travels east along the ridge over to Russel Mountain, and Twin Lakes. The Sugarloaf Trail can be used to connect over to the East Pine Creek trail to make a loop back.

Red Mountain Summit

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Climbing Red Mountain is a rugged and long trek that rewards climbers with a 9,560 foot summit that is the highest point in Baker County, Oregon (14th highest in Oregon). The climb requires no special technical skill, other then good footwork and balance to navigate hundreds of vertical feet of crumbling red rock.

Sacajawea Peak Summit

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This is the highest peak in the Wallowa Mountains of Northeast Oregon. The route here is shown starting at the Thorp Creek Basin, which is accessed from the Hurricane Creek Trailhead.

Thorp Creek Basin

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This hike from the Hurricane Creek Trailhead climbs a canyon between the highest mountains in the Wallowas.

Twin Lakes Trail 1874

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The route shown here is a strenuous hike or good trail run, shown here as a connection between Indian Crossing Campground to Twin Lakes Campground on either end. This is a steep trail climbing from the Imnaha River to Twin Lakes. The route starts up the South Fork Imnaha Trail 1816 and fording the river to Trail 1874 at Blue Hole. Trail 1874 climbs up the canyon's south side, topping out at Twin Lakes which is a non-fee campground and trailhead. The route travels through the Twin Lakes burn, over some rock outcroppings and mostly and wide open views.