Best Hikes in Wallowa-Whitman National Forest (OR)

Wallowa-Whitman National Forest Overview

The Wallowa-Whitman National Forest extends from the Blue Mountains and rugged Wallowa Mountains down to the spectacular canyon country of the Snake River on the Idaho border. The forest ranges in elevation from 875′ in the Hells Canyon National Recreation Area to 9,845′ in the Eagle Cap Wilderness Area. Spanning 2.3 million acres across the northeast corner of Oregon and western Idaho, the Wallowa-Whitman National Forest offers a variety of year-round recreational opportunities. With landscapes packed with rugged canyonlands, scenic vistas, and high mountain lakes, visitors have enjoyed the forest’s diverse landscape and recreational activities for generations. Similar to nearby Umatilla National Forest, most of the best hikes in Wallowa-Whitman National Forest are 10+ miles roundtrip.

StateOregon; Idaho
Nearest Metro AreaLa Grande, OR
Area Size2,392,508 acres
EstablishedMay 6, 1905
Hiking Trails2,775 miles

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Trailhead Traveler’s Recommended Best Hikes in Wallowa-Whitman National Forest

(*** = best hikes in Wallowa-Whitman National Forest)

East Eagle #1910 Cap Wilderness Loop*** – 38.8 mile loop
Early evening reflection of Eagle Cap, Eagle Cap Wilderness on the Wallowa-Whitman National Forest
Eagle Cap, Photo by U.S. Forest Service – Pacific Northwest Region

This incredible but challenging route takes hikers on a multi-day backpacking adventure through the heart of the Eagle Cap Wilderness. In addition to numerous spur trails, this loop combines East Eagle Trail #1910, Glacier Lake Trail #1806, South Fork Imnaha Trail #1816, and Cliff River Trail #1885. Highlights include: Hidden Lake, Eagle Cap (9,540′), Lakes Basin, and Glacier Lake.

East Fork Wallowa Trail #1804 to Aneroid Lake – 12.0 miles out and back
aneroid_lake_swart_odfw_600x450
Aneroid Lake, Photo by Oregon Department of Fish & Wildlife

The east fork of the Wallowa River runs along the entire trail. Roger and Aneroid Lakes provide good trout fishing in the summer. Many wildflowers may be seen along the trail, beginning in late June.

Ice Lake Trail #1808 via Wallowa Lake Trailhead*** – 15.6 miles out and back
Ice Lake, Sacajawea Peak
Ice Lake, Sacajawea Peak, Photo by mountainamoeba

From the Wallowa Lake Trailhead, take the West Fork Wallowa Trail #1820 south to Ice Lake Trail. Aside from the Lakes Basin, Ice Lake is perhaps the most popular destination in the Eagle Cap Wilderness, featuring an amazing lake plus nearby climbs of two iconic summits.

Maxwell Lake Trail #1674 – 8.0 miles out and back
North Fork Minim Meadows
North Fork Minam Meadows, Photo by Aaron

The trip to Maxwell Lake makes an excellent day hike; it’s relatively short, 4 miles one-way. Stands of larch and fir give shade and relief from the open meadows. Climbing the ridge behind Maxwell Lake affords you spectacular views of North Minam Meadows and some of the lakes and peaks in the Minam and Lostine drainages. The lakes are surrounded with granite walls and fine outcroppings of pine trees along the lakeshores. Small side streams cross the trail but may dwindle to a trickle later in the season.

Summit Ridge Trail #1774 – 5.3 miles roundtrip
#mypubliclandsroadtrip 2016: Search for Solitude, Hells Canyon Wilderness
Hells Canyon Wilderness, Photo by Bureau of Land Management

The only hike on this list in Hells Canyon Wilderness, this trail skirts the edge of the deepest river gorge in North America with great views to the east and west.

Featured Image: Wallowa-Whitman Mountains, Photo by Bonnie Moreland

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2 Responses

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