Trails and Trailheads

East Fork Trail (Wallowa Lake Trailhead)

east fork trail aneroid roger lakes

This steep trail accesses the main destinations of Aneroid Lake and Tenderfoot Pass. Its popularity is somewhat limited because of its arduous nature, making it the perfect trail for the fit and those who enjoy a little extra tranquility.

Access it from the Wallowa Lake Trailhead by going left (follow the sign) up the old service road. After a waterfall and what seems like dozens of switchbacks you’ll come upon the pond that powers the hydro station below. Whew… you’ve made it two miles and you still aren’t actually in designated wilderness. From there on out the journey seems less severe, although you are still quickly climbing until you reach an area of big rocks that many stop at for a rest. Some consider this halfway, but you are now at the 4 mile mark and from here on out things are a little more level- not that it would matter: the scenery is breathtaking and it is full of surprises around almost every corner.

You’ll finally pass a little shallow pond called Roger Lake and in a few minutes you’ll enter above Aneroid Lake where most will finish their journey. Just before that point you’ll see a trail to the right (and possibly a sign) that directs you to several good camping areas.

If you stopped at Aneroid Lake, you’d be amply rewarded, but, if you have the time and energy you’d be truly amazed by the journey and destination to Tenderfoot Pass. This is 'High Alpine' at its finest: you'll know what it’s like ‘Living in a Postcard.’

From the pass you could summit Pete’s Point or search for seashell fossils on Dollar Ridge. Discover the tiny Jewett or Dollar Lakes or take a longer side trip to Bonny Lakes. The Tenderfoot trail connects to Polaris Pass and down to the Lakes Basin. It also connects to the Imnaha trail down to Indian Crossing.

View the Panoramas:

Download a home-printable pdf map of this area

Chief Joseph Trail (Wallowa Lake Trailhead)

chief joseph trail bridge

This is a trail that can be made short or long as you like and offers great views of Wallowa Lake within the first mile.

Take the West Fork trail at the Wallowa lake Trailhead and continue to the Chief Joseph Trail junction about 1/4 mile ahead. Go left upriver to the bridge and after a short distance the trail switchbacks to the north where you’ll find views of the lake. At a little over a half-mile you’ll encounter BC Falls, which used to have a bridge (until it was washed out). Depending on the water flow this may or may not be where your journey ends. If not, the trail continues on for another 6.5 miles to a meadow in a saddle at the base of Chief Joseph Mountain at 7620’.

Be on the lookout for Pica, Mountain Goats, Mule Deer and the occasional Elk. Rubber Boa's and Western Toads are often found on the lower trail as well.

This is an extraordinary spot with possibilities to explore or summit. Wildflowers abound in mid-June and the alpine setting will have you feeling like you should be singing in a musical. The views are awesome making it very hard to leave.

Download a home-printable pdf map of this area

McCully Trailhead and Trails

mcully trailhead mt howard view

Another great trailhead into the Eagle Cap is found just a short drive away. It offers two possibilities (actually three). One is to take the fairly gradual trail into the beautiful McCully Basin, about 5 miles and gaining 1900’. The other is to follow the tram service road up the back side of Mt. Howard for 3.5 miles up to the top tramway station, gaining 3000’ in the hike.

Both treks couldn’t be more different: one takes you along a shady creek into a glacial cirque surrounded by mountains; the other runs right up the ridge to the top of a mountain. It really depends on what you’re willing to work for as both are beautiful in their own ways. These routes are open to both horses and hikers. The service road up to Howard is open to bicycles as well, making the return trip a breeze.

As the third option, if you were dropped off, you could just ride the tram back down to the lake (be sure to purchase your ticket first).

Driving Distance- Joseph to McCully Trailhead: About 11 miles- figure about 40 mph average speed or about 30 minutes in transit.

Driving Directions: From Joseph head east on Oregon State 350 (to Imnaha) and go for about 5 miles to Tucker Down Road (to Ferguson Ski Area); Turn right on Tucker Down Road (County Road 633) and go 3 miles over the cattle guard where the road then becomes Forest Road 3920; Continue on Forest Road 3920 for about 1.3 miles- the road forks; Take the right fork onto Forest Road 3920012 and go 0.5 miles to trailhead entrance on your right.

Amenities: The parking lot is large and has a vault toilet. The lot requires a NW Forest Pass or you can leave a parking fee. If you are traveling into the wilderness (McCully Basin is, Howard is not) you’ll need to fill out a wilderness permit (free) available at the site for your group.

Download a home-printable pdf map of this area

Tenderfoot Trailhead and Trails

tenderfoot trail bonny lakes

If you’re planning on hiking the Eagle Cap but haven’t quite got your hiking legs on, a little known shortcut into the mountains is the Tenderfoot Trailhead. Right from the start, you’re almost 2000’ higher (at 6500’) than any of the other local trailheads and it’s just 3.6 miles to Bonny Lakes, a beautiful destination. From there you have you have opportunities to explore other features that are close by, making this a great option for day hikers or for overnight campers looking for an easier way into wilderness.

From Bonny Lakes, you can go another 2 miles where the trail intersects with the Aneroid Lake (East Fork) Trail #1804. From that intersection, going north about a mile will take you to Aneroid Lake; south will take you to Tenderfoot Pass- an incredible alpine experience where you’ll pear into the vast Imnaha Drainage. You could hike to the top of Pete’s Point, elevation 9673’, or Dollar Ridge, where fossilized seashells can be found at the top of a mountain!

This area is lightly used, so you’ll experience a solitary peacefulness that is completely timeless outside of the rhythms of nature.

Be sure to spend some time discovering the two unique small lakes, Jewett and Dollar- they can also provide a warmer swimming hole later in the summer.

All along this route you’ll find yourself feeling like your living in a postcard, so don't forget your camera.

A possible option for hikers is to be dropped off at this trailhead to hike the 14 miles back down to Wallowa Lake. Along this path you’ll experience most of the features that the Eagle Cap is so loved for.

Driving Distance- Joseph to Tenderfoot Trailhead: 24 miles- figure about 35 mph average speed for under one hour in transit. Be sure to check your fuel at Joseph – your traveling into wilderness and you’ll find no services beyond this point and cell service is very spotty (you may get some service at high points along the trail).

Driving Directions: From Wallowa Lake head back to Joseph (about 6 miles); In Joseph turn left (East) on Oregon State 350 (to Imnaha) for about 8 miles to the Wallowa Loop Road; Turn right on the Wallowa Mountain Loop Road (also known as the Hells Canyon Scenic Byway); Travel on this paved road which eventually becomes Forest Road 39 for about 10 miles to Salt Creek Summit; Continue on past Salt Creek Summit on Forest Road 39 for 3 miles and turn right on the gravel Forest Road #100 and go 3 miles to the end of the road to the trailhead. Road #1oo is narrow, bumpy and rocky- be sure to check your spare!

Amenities: The parking lot is large but has no other facilities (no toilet). The lot requires no fee, although you’ll need to fill out a permit (free) available at the site before you enter the wilderness.

See the Bonny Lakes Panorama

See the Dollar Ridge Panorama

Download a home-printable pdf map of this area

Hurricane Creek Trailhead and Trails

hurricane creek trail sacajawea peak

The second most popular trailhead (after the Wallowa Lake Trailhead) is located just a short country drive away.

The trailhead at Hurricane Creek offers a fairly gradual way into the Eagle Cap and has majestic mountain views within the first mile that only get better the farther you hike. It follows along the creek to open meadows where Mountain Goats are often spotted along the ridges above.

After the two meadows, the canyon narrows and climbs high over Hurricane Creek along cliffs that overlook pools and waterfalls (keep a leash handy for your dog and watch your kids).

The trail is a favorite for those making their way to the Lakes Basin, some 10 miles away, but is primarily used by day hikers and runners in their 5.7 mile round-trip journey to Slick Rock Creek. You can also find good places to camp along the creek in the first few miles, making this a great option for those just getting into backpack wilderness camping.

Driving Distance- Joseph to Hurricane Trailhead: About 13 miles- figure about 30 mph average speed or about 30 minutes in transit- stay under 20-25mph on the forest road after the bridge (it’s narrow with blind corners).

Driving Directions: From Joseph, Oregon go west on Airport Lane for about 1.5 miles and the road becomes Hurricane Creek Road; Continue on Hurricane Creek Road for another 0.5 miles to the white Hurricane Creek Grange; Turn left at the Grange onto County Road 521 (becomes Forest Road 8205) and go about 3.7 miles to trailhead. The road becomes narrow with turnouts and is not recommended for RVs.

Amenities: The parking lot is large and has a vault toilet. Has a loading ramp and posts for tying stock. The lot requires a NW Forest Pass or you can leave a parking fee and you’ll need to fill out a wilderness permit (free) available at the site for your group.

See the Goat Meadows Panorama

Download a home-printable pdf map of this area



59782 Wallowa Lake Highway,
Joseph, OR 97846

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84681 Ponderosa Lane
Joseph Or 97846

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