Wallowa Mountains - West Eagle Loop

The Wallowas (Eagle Cap Wilderness) are a popular hiking area in northeastern Oregon. In this trip I did a 36 mile loop in four days. The West Eagle Meadows trailhead was my starting and ending point. A few miles up there is a fork in the trail. I turned left and three days later returned on the right. There was some gray clouds when I started. They cleared by the afternoon and I had nothing more than some wispy clouds the rest of the time. It was how and sunny.

Click on any photo to see the slideshow.

Over the pass to Tombstone Lake

The first day's hike gained 2800 feet from 5400 to 8200, in about 8 miles. Then another 1.5 or so down to Tombstone Lake. It started cloudy but then the sun came out, but at higher altitude it wasn't so hot and there was a breeze. The trial disappeared in one meadow for a while but it didn't take too long to find.

Minam River

The second day I dropped 2400 feet down Elk Creek to the Minam River, one of the larger rivers in the area, at least downstream. Up here, not to far from Minam Lake, it was not that large. After going down 6 miles to get to the river, there was a large bridge and then I hiked along on the Minam River trail for four miles to the Trail Creek junction. Needing to cross the Minam River again, this time there was no bridge. It was a ford, but the river is more of a stream here. I set up camp 10 yards from the river's edge.

Up and Over Wonker Pass

This was the big day. 3000 feet up and over Wonker Pass. After a few easy miles on Trail Creek, you turn right towards what I think one local told me was called Paradise. The valley that leads to the pass is gorgeous and lush, but the trail disappears. Last time I did this part, it took a long time to find, but this time I knew. The first part of the climb in the valley was south facing and very hot. Once I got higher up, the temps cooled and a breeze came up. I spent a long time enjoying this pass before heading down to Traverse Lake to camp.

Traverse Lake and out

I got to the lake by midafternoon and had plenty of time to relax and read and wander around the lake. It was still very warm and when the breeze died down, the mosquitoes came out. So when not walking around, I was in my tent. But they left before sunset and I had a spectacular last evening next to the lake. The hike out was just 6 miles of downhill. And the drinks in the car were still reasonably cool after four days!