Eagle Cap Wilderness (Oregon)

DISTANCE (round-trip)

41mi (66km)

DIFFICULTY

TIME

3-4 days

ALTERNATIVE TO

Pacific Crest Trail

SOLITUDE

High Altitude Splendor

Eagle Cap Wilderness is the largest wilderness area in Oregon and it encompasses some of the most scenic terrain in the West. Also the state’s largest high alpine area, the flora and fauna are unique to the region and offer a glimpse back in time. The most prominent features are the handful of high altitude lakes found in the valleys, nestled between dozens of peaks over 9000 feet high.

Hiking Eagle Cap Wilderness can be customized for all hikers, with over 500 miles of trails, this area begs for exploration. The Wallowa mountains are on full display in the wilderness area, their treeless peaks are sometimes referred to as the Alps of Oregon. The Wallowa river drains the range and is still home to Steelhead and Salmon runs in the spring.

The Eagle Cap Wilderness loop is built through the heart of the mountain range. Offering excellent views of the surrounding wilderness, there will never be a dull day of hiking. The reflective lakes offer some incredible scenery and for photographers, morning and sunset can make for beautiful shots. Huge herds of Elk roam the valleys, mountain goats and big horn sheep call this place home.  Wildlife viewing can be spectacular. 

Climbing to elevations over 9000 feet, the hiking is not recommended for beginners or people with ailments. The rugged environment is often plagued with severe weather, especially in the winter and shoulder seasons. Plan your hike accordingly, carrying the necessary provisions.

When to go

Summer is the best time to go. Snow should be melted and the weather is usually fairly predictable. Its isolation should hold back most of the crowds.

Getting there

About 2 hours East of Baker City, Oregon the trail begins at East Eagle Creek Trailhead. Take 86 E out of town, taking a left on Sparta ln about an hour from the city. Follow this road until it becomes E. Eagle Creek Rd, follow the road until the trailhead, the road is a dead end.

Know before you go

  • The high altitude lakes and valleys harbor enormous amounts of mosquitoes and horseflies. 
  • Some of the lakes feature National Forest Campgrounds and can be quite crowded. 
  • It is bear country, grapes and berries grow in abundance, stay alert.

For more information:

Horseshoe Lake Eaglecap Wilderness, Wallowa Mts. Wallowa Whitman NF, Oregon. Photo Credit: George Wuerthner

Photo credit: Wilderness.net

Gear Recommendations for this trail:

About the author

JoelSalvino

Addicted to the dark areas on light pollution maps, I focus on documenting the world's remote spaces. I hope to inspire others to be an active member of the ecosystem all around us. Our most valuable resources, clean air, clean water, and open spaces are being parceled off and destroyed at an alarming rate. Let's enjoy Earth and share it with future generations. You can check out my blog Not A Guide Book