Backpack to Ice Lake in the Wallowas

Wallowa Lake Trailhead

Spend a weekend lounging by pristine glacial waters at the base of the second highest peak in the Wallowas.

Starting at the end of Wallowa lake, this 18 mile roundtrip hike begins at 4,520' and remains pretty mellow over the first 2.5 miles. Total elevation gain of the hike is about 3380', ending at the Ice Lake which sits at 7,900'.

Following the West-Fork Wallowa river trail 1820 for about 2 miles, until you switch to the Ice Lake trail 1808 and very quickly cross the river via log bridge. From here the trail begins to head uphill quickly, and you will tackle the remaining elevation by a series of switchbacks with some relief in the middle in a beautiful meadow. 

Once you arrive at the lake, you come to a bit of a fork with one trail headed to hikers right to the northern side of the lake. This is what is used to head up to the Matterhorn, but most of the campsites sit on the left trail which requires a quick hop over a stream. From here most people camp on the small peninsula, but if you up for a bit of exploring there are some other sites to be found in more quiet areas. 

The area can be a bit crowded on summer weekends due to the easy trailhead access, so try and plan accordingly. Always be sure to check local snow and fire reports and adhere to the regions campfire and leave no trace rules.  

Pack List

  • Backpacking gear
    • Backpacking backpack
    • Tent
    • Pad
    • Sleeping Bag
    • Camp stove + fuel
    • Cook-set
    • Mug
    • Water purifier
  • BUG SPRAY!
  • Camera
  • Tripod
  • Food
  • Meals
  • Snacks
  • Book
  • Swimsuit
Show More
RT Distance 18 Miles
Elevation Gain 3380 Feet
Activities Camping, Fishing, Photography, Running, Swimming, Backpacking, Hiking
Skill Level Intermediate
Season Summer
Trail Type Out-and-Back
Features
Beach
Easy Parking
Lake
River
Scenic
Waterfall
Wildflowers
Wildlife

Reviews

Leave a Review

Overall rating: 

Beautiful hike

This hike is definitely a must for anyone wanting to hike in the Eagle Cap. I hit the trail on a Thursday morning in mid July and only ran into a couple other hikers on their way back down and one trail runner who passed me about halfway up. The trail passes beautiful waterfalls along the way and offers plenty of views of the surrounding peaks. Ice lake is peaceful, has great sunrises and is close to the Matterhorn for those who wish to head for the summit. Only three other hikers had set up camp so space and privacy was not an issue. You could certainly make this a one day, out and back trip but I highly recommend relaxing at the lake with your feet in the cool water, take in the view and wonder back down the next morning or head for the Matterhorn. Highly recommend.


Please respect the places you find on The Outbound Collective.

Always practice Leave No Trace ethics on your adventures. Be aware of local regulations and don't damage these amazing places for the sake of a photograph. Learn More

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