Best Hikes in Wallowa-Whitman National Forest (OR)

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 worthwhile hikes in the forest are 10+ miles roundtrip. Official Website.

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

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

  • East Eagle #1910 Cap Wilderness Loop*** – 38.8 mile loop
    • 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
    • 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
    • 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
    • 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
    • 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.

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