Backpack the Eagle Cap Wilderness Loop

    5.0
    42 miles 7000 ft gain  - Loop Trail

    Added by Colin Ayers

    Explore the remote Eagle Cap Wilderness on this 42 mile loop which offers new views all along the way. Visit at least 10 pristine alpine lakes and Summit Eagle Cap (9,572 ft). 

    The top trip in Oregon's Eagle Cap Wilderness takes you in a loop around Eagle Cap, Oregon's 13th tallest peak and through three high mountain passes. East Eagle trailhead has two main parking lots, the first one you come to is a trailer parking lot meant for horse trailers, but make sure you drive past that to the second parking lot for backpackers.

    From East Eagle trailhead, follow Trail 1910 toward Horton Pass, but at about seven miles in there is a trail 1915 to Hidden Lake. Take this about 2 miles and camp on its shores ringed with jagged peaks. 

    Head east along the same trail to get back to 1910 going north to Horton Pass. The trail follows the East Fork of Eagle Creek until it starts to climb toward the pass, starting with a few wide switchbacks that bring you up into a small hanging valley with some nice granite slabs and stones, and great views down to the valley below. From there the trail crosses a small stream a few times and then steepens to tight switchbacks up to the top of the pass around 8400 feet. Once at the top of the pass, there is a trail leading off to the right that takes you up the ridgeline toward Eagle Cap at 9572 feet. Allow a good two hours to make it the 1100 feet up to the summit and back to the pass, but definitely make the trip. The views of the Wallowa Mountains all around, Sacajawea Peak to the north, and Glacier Lake down below are some of the best in Oregon. Once back at the pass, continue down the trail to Upper, Mirror, and Moccasin Lakes which are good places to camp for the night. 

    Make your way past Moccasin Lake and follow trail 1806 up Glacier Pass to about 8500 feet and then down to Glacier Lake at 8166. This is possibly the most beautiful lake in the area, and sports amazing views of Glacier Peak and Eagle Cap. From Glacier Lake follow signs on trail 1820 towards Hawkins Pass, which you will climb up to after you descend down to pass by Little Frazier Lake. Enjoy gorgeous views of the Lakes district to the north and the valley extending to the south.

    Trail 1816 leads south along the Imnaha River until it meets a shortcut leading to trail 1885. Take this and follow until a junction with trail 1945. This leads west towards Crater Lake, the last major landmark in the loop, but one of my favorites. Oregon's other Crater Lake is just as beautiful as it's namesake, with views of Granite and Truax Mountains and Krag Peak all around.

    The trail gets less fun from here and works it's way through pretty gnarly and overgrown bushes and down some 40 switchbacks or so before it returns back to the road. Follow this north half a mile back to the parking lot and the trailhead and enjoy a nice beverage of your choice from your car.

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    Fitness
    Rock Climbing
    Camping
    Photography
    Mountain Biking
    Running
    Backpacking
    Hiking
    Forest
    Lake
    River
    Scenic
    Waterfall
    Wildlife

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    Reviews

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    Remote Mountain Adventure

    We backpacked this loop in early August, it was fantastic! I highly recommend it. We took 5 nights, the last 2.5 days we did not come across anybody else. Didn’t see any bear or cougars but lots of signs of their presence including several trees marked by bear. This is a very remote loop and worth every mile.

    Leave No Trace

    Always practice Leave No Trace ethics on your adventures and follow local regulations. Please explore responsibly!

    We want to acknowledge and thank the past, present, and future generations of all Native Nations and Indigenous Peoples whose ancestral lands we travel, explore, and play on.

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