Trails and Trailheads

West Fork to Ice Lake (Wallowa Lake Trailhead)

ice lake trail

Ice Lake is one of the most outstanding and loved locations in the Eagle Cap. Even though the location is just under 8 miles from the Wallowa Lake Trailhead, the last 5 miles involves numerous switchbacks over rocky ground and gains 2350’ in elevation. The trail climbs, unbelievably, right up a rockslide and up through sub-alpine into alpine, making the journey both beautiful and interesting as well. As you climb to the top, a large waterfall presents itself as you make the final accent into the large cirque that cradles Ice Lake (el 7849’). While this strenuous journey can be made round-trip in a day, campers can spend days exploring the many peaks that surround this unforgettable destination. Don’t forget to bring your fishing pole!

Note: This location has almost zero forage for horses- be prepared to pack in weed-free local hay or pellets if you’re staying overnight. Also, check your horses’ shoes and pack at least one easy-boot per horse- this trail is rocky- anything less-than-perfect or older shoeing will most likely fail.

View the Ice Lake Panorama

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BC Falls Overlook (Wallowa Lake Trailhead)

bc creek fallsYou don’t have to go far to find something spectacular around Joseph. Start at the Wallowa Lake Trailhead and head up the West Fork Trail (#1820) on the right. Go about ¼ mile to where the trail forks and go right at that fork. In just a few feet you’ll see that the main trail follows left in about the same direction (upstream) that you were going at the fork, but if you want to see the falls, you’ll need to follow the less-used trail to the right (downstream, in the opposite direction of the main Chief Joseph Trail).

As you proceed down river you’ll come across many spectacular (and scary) overlooks on the river below- keep going and you’ll find where BC Creek merges with the West Fork to create an exceptional waterfall. Behind you, towards the lake, will be a little knob, climb it and get ready for great pictures of Wallowa Lake. This trail has cliffs along the way, and even though the trail is wide and safe, you don’t have to stray far to find real danger- please leash your dog and keep an eye on your little ones.

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The Wallowa Lake Trailhead

wallowa lake trailhead

The Wallowa Lake Trailhead is at the end of Hwy 82, just 7 miles south of Joseph, Oregon. This is where you'll find the main local trailhead into Oregon's Largest Wilderness, The Eagle Cap. If you thought this area was beautiful from the outside, entering the wilderness will simply blow you away!

The Eagle Cap is a true National Treasure, one that still affords unparalleled peace and quiet; a rare quality in today's world.

The Chief Joseph Trail, the Aneroid Lake (East Fork) Trail, and the West Fork Trail are the three main paths into wilderness from the Wallowa Lake area. Three other popular trails, Chief Joseph,  BC Falls and Ice Lake branch from the West Fork Trail. Each provides the opportunity to day hike, trail run, horseback or backpack to one's own ability. Easily reached vistas, wildflowers, and stunning mountain views are readily available for the casual hiker from this busy trailhead.

The 'Little Alps' state day-use area is adjacent with restrooms and picnic tables to provide a shady resting area before or after your hike.

The trailhead includes a large turn-around with plenty of parking and a horse ramp and tying posts for stock.

This is one of the few trailheads that does not require a NW park pass for parking as it is at the end of Hwy 82. You'll still need to fill out a wilderness permit (free)- those are self-issue and are found at all the trailheads.

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West Fork Trail (Wallowa Lake Trailhead)

west fork wallowa river

The popular West Fork Wallowa River Trail (#1820) provides a primary gateway into the Eagle Cap Wilderness. It travels gradually upriver into all the regions that define area, including the always-popular Lakes Basin. While the initial visual rewards are a little slow in coming, it offers a warm-up for the less-fit with its gentle grade- while the fit can proceed on to the incredible features up the Ice Lake Trail and beyond. It works well for day hikers, trail runners, backpackers and horseman.

Six Mile Meadow and Beyond

As the name implies- six miles up the West Fork is where you’ll find a meadow- a beautiful and expansive one. You’ll follow the river in sub-alpine forest that winds its way through varied plant communities and past numerous springs, wildflowers and mountain views. At about the three mile mark, it’s worth the short diversion to the footbridge that goes to Ice Lake as the river is quite beautiful there. All in all, the trail gains just 1450’ to the meadow, making this one of the easier hikes of the area.

Beyond this you’re presented with two choices that lead you into the Lakes Basin- you could stay the trail, gaining 1200‘ in 4 miles ending up at Frances and Glacier Lake. Or, you can cross the footbridge (Trail #1810) over the river and proceed, steeply at times, another 2.5 miles (gaining 1400’) into the Lakes Basin at Horseshoe Lake. The latter is the more popular choice since it puts you into the main area with most of the lakes. The Lakes Basin has special rules- please read and understand them (posted at all trail entrances).

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59782 Wallowa Lake Highway,
Joseph, OR 97846

Office check in at:

84681 Ponderosa Lane
Joseph Or 97846

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