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All trails lead to the top in this lake-lover's paradise.
Eagle Cap Ranger District Wallowa-Whitman National Forest USDA Forest Service Enterprise, OR 97828 (541) 426-4978 Wallowa Mountains Visitor Center 88401 Hwy. 82 Enterprise, OR 97828 (541) 426-5546
Location: Eagle Cap Wilderness is in the heart of the Wallowa-Whitman National Forest in the northeastern corner of Oregon, next to Idaho and Washington. The nearest sizable towns are Enterprise to the northeast, La Grande to the northwest, and Baker City to the southwest. For more information on Log County, call (800) 585-4121.
Getting There: Access to the area from the west is about 10 miles east of LaGrande, Oregon, and I-84. LaGrande is about four hours or 265 miles from Portland, Oregon, and about three hours or 170 miles from Boise, Idaho, all on I-84. Most hikers enter from the scenic Wallowa Valley on the northern side of Eagle Cap. The town of Enterprise in the Wallowa Valley is about four hours or 190 miles from Spokane, Washington, via U.S. 195 and SR 3.
Seasonal Information: In winter, temperatures can dip as low as -30° F and the area may be accessible only by ski or snowshoe. In most areas the majority of the Eagle Cap Wilderness trails snow-free by July 4. The area is then normally open until late October.
In summer, temperatures can soar into the mid-90s and then dip to lows in the 40s. Be prepared for sudden changes in the weather and late-afternoon thunderstorms.
Wildlife: Abundant wildlife features bears, cougars, deer, elk, and raptors. Bighorn sheep were re-introduced in the 1950s along with mountain goats.
Area wildlife presently classified as endangered, threatened, or sensitive include the peregrine falcon, bald eagle, ferruginous hawk, Swainson's hawk, and the western spotted frog.
Insects: High temperatures cause insect problems: mosquitoes around wet areas and horseflies elsewhere.
Plant Life: You can follow the Imnaha River through stands of old-growth ponderosa and tamarack laced with grape and berry vines. There are also cottonwoods and various brush and grasses, but vegetation changes with elevation.
Engelman spruce, larch, mountain hemlock, sub-alpine fir, and whitebark pine can be found in the higher elevations.
Facilities: Camping is primitive in the wilderness, but there are a number of sites available just outside of the wilderness. National forest campgrounds ring the lakes basin area, providing convenient access points. For all of these reasons, the lakes basin can be quite crowded on summer weekends. Come after Labor Day for more solitude.
Moss Springs, Boundary, Hurricane Creek, Indian Crossing, and Twin Lakes are primitive sites very close to the wilderness borders. Of these, only Indian Crossing is a fee site.
Parking: No information available.
Permits: Free permits should be obtained at the trailheads, visitor center, and other forest offices May through December.
Leave No Trace:
All LNT guidelines apply.
Maps: USGS quads of Chief Joseph Mountain, North Minam Meadows, Aneroid Mountain, Eagle Cap, and Steamboat Lake cover the lakes basin and general vicinity. Consult a USGS index for more extensive coverage. USGS and Eagle Cap Wilderness maps ($6) are available from the Eagle Cap Ranger District, Wallowa-Whitman National Forest.
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