Backpack the Eagle Cap Wilderness Loop

Rate this Adventure Oregon East Eagle Creek Trailhead

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.

Pack List

  • Ten Essentials
  • No Green Trails Map for this area, but USDA map 450711715 serves as a pretty good replacement. You can find this at http://data.fs.usda.gov/geodat...
  • Also check out websites like Caltopo and Hillmap for good printable maps with trail labeling included
  • Bear Spray, brown and black bears are known to live here
  • This is high elevation country so outside of July/August bring extra insulation just in case of cold weather
  • Camera
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Activities:

Backpacking, Camping, Fitness, Hiking, Mountain Biking, Photography, Rock Climbing, Running

Skill Level:

Intermediate

Season:

Spring, Summer, Autumn

Trail Type:

Loop

Distance:

42 Miles

Elev. Gain:

7000 Feet

Features:

Forest
Lake
River
Scenic
Waterfall
Wildlife

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Added by Colin Ayers

Chemical Engineering Student at the University of Washington

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