Oct 22, 2009 at 9:29 am #1240481
Anyone have a suggestion for a five to six day route in the Wallowas? Looking for relative solitude, so I thought we would skip out on the Lakes Basin area – unless reports of heavy, heavy use are exaggerated. Ideally, I was thinking about a two day hike in to some picture perfect alpine lake, stay a day or two there, and then hike back out. Loop would be preferable, shuttle is doable, as we will have several cars. Hoping to avoid hiking in and out on the same trail. Going to pick up some reading material on the area today, but my ignorance of the Wallowas, at the moment, is near total. A pointer in the right direction would be appreciated.Oct 22, 2009 at 1:51 pm #1538778
Mary DBPL Member
@hikinggrannyLocale: Gateway to Columbia River Gorge
Two great online sources for past trip reports:
http://www.portlandhikers.org (unfortunately their archives are unavailable, so trip reports cover only the past 2 summers).
Here is the official USFS website for the Wallowa-Whitman National Forest: http://www.fs.fed.us/r6/w-w/recreation/wilderness/ecwild.shtml
Barstad, Hiking Oregon's Eagle Cap WIlderness (describes all the individual trails but not much help in planning loops–once you've planned the loop, you can pick out the pertinent trail descriptions which are quite detailed)
Lorain, Backpacking Oregon
Lorain, 100 Classic Hikes in Oregon (some of the one-way hikes described in Backpacking Oregon are shown as loops here)
The GeoGraphics map of the Eagle Cap Wilderness is really crummy and hard to read. I don't know if the Forest Service has a better map, but if they do that would be the one to get to help plan loops.
The Lakes Basin is so beautiful that it's worth a visit. It has been suggested that you avoid it on a weekend, though. One less populated approach is from the south side, from the East Eagle trailhead. A loop is described in both Lorain books. I'm hoping to do this one next year.
The information you get from the Wallowa Mountains Visitor Center (phone on the USFS website) seems to be a bit lacking. I called in early September about the missing bridge on the East Fork Lostine River. All they told me was that the bridge is out and they hadn't maintained the very popular trail. I found out from several trip reports that there is a nice wide log across the river near the old bridge, and that just fording the stream at that time of year was no big deal (it might be in late July, especially if snowmelt is late). The folks at the Visitor Center didn't know anything about either of these options.
The Wallowas, being well inland, have a continental climate. Expect possible daily thunderstorms. As in the high Rockies (even though the Wallowas aren't as high), you can expect snow any month of the year, although probably least likely when you're going.Oct 22, 2009 at 3:09 pm #1538801
Thanks for the resources. The Backpacking Oregon book was the one I was planning on picking up on my way home today… I'll be back posting some more specific questions once I have a preliminary plan, but thanks for the good start.Jan 30, 2010 at 10:51 pm #1568114
Shawn HalseyBPL Member
@shooter1082Locale: NE Oregon
Having done several hikes in the Eagle Caps over the last five or so years I can recommend a few routes. You say that you want to hike in for two days. How far are you looking to go in those days? I have led a Boy Scout 50 mile hike through this area to some pretty nice lakes, we did ten miles a day. But, if you are on this site you can probably do more than that.
If you don't want to push too hard, the Bowman trail out of the Lostine river can take you to several nice lakes. Tombstone, Swamp, and Long Lakes come to mind. A short shuttle loop can be made via a connecting route to the Two Pan trailhead at the end of Lostine River road via the Copper Creek trail or if you are more agressive, the Minam River trail and the West Fork of the Lostine.
Fred Barstad's book is a must have for this area. Once you get used to the layout you will be able to plan some good hikes.
I will tell you that having done a week in the Wallowas during the last week of July, that you will likely experience the annual mosquito bloom. Bring a head net and the repellent of your choice. 100% deet is always a sure bet.
If you are still checking this thread, post a reply and I will provide all of the advice that I can.
Good LuckFeb 5, 2010 at 6:16 am #1570065
Jay BonzaniBPL Member
@ultraboundLocale: NE Oregon
The Eagle Cap Wilderness is one of the most awesome areas around. I think that it is over looked by many. I would stay away from lake basin due to day hiker types, but it is still hard to get away from everyone that time of the year. You can expect to see a few horse types from time to time. The bugs that time of year can be really nasty. I prefer to go later in the year prepared for colder temps. If you can get in on a monday or tuesday and come out late week it makes running into people on the trail much less likly. Also if you like beer (who doesn't) Terminal Gravity brewing has a great IPA and is in Enterprise (I am just a fan and have no interest in the brewery at all).Feb 14, 2010 at 11:33 am #1573698
Gordon SmithBPL Member
@swearingenLocale: Portland, Oregon
A few years ago I did the southern loop mentioned earlier by Mary D. It's about 38 miles total, a little more if you make the side jaunt to the summit of Eagle Cap. I can't recommend it enough. I've made seven trips into the Eagle Cap over the years and this was by far my favorite, though they have all been great. We did that loop at a leisurely pace in six days. It could easily be done in five or less though. We camped one night in the Lakes Basin, but it was mid-week and there weren't many people. It's a large area with many lakes and campsites, so people tend get spread out anyway. The Lakes Basin is simply gorgeous and well worth including in any Wallowas trip.
I agree with others that in late July it might still be buggy. There can still be quite a bit of snow on the high passes then too. We went in mid-August and neither the skeeters or the snow were much of a problem.
At the time I posted a trip report to portlandhikers.com. That report is in archive form now, without the photos, but I've re-created it here on my smugmug site if you're interested.
The Wallowas are awesome, I'm sure whatever trip you wind up doing you will enjoy it thoroughly.
GordonJun 29, 2010 at 1:41 pm #1624584
Didn't think I was going to be able to get this one in this year, but it looks like I will after all. Gordon, if you're reading this, I was thinking about following a route similar to the one you linked to above. Think that can be done in five days… Or would I be pushing it? Anyone know what the snowpack is like out there this year? This will be my first hike at this altitude, will the difference between 8000 and 4000 be readily apparent?
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