Backpack Wallowa River Loop

Rate this Adventure Oregon Wallowa Lake Trailhead

Added by Theresa Silveyra

This amazing backpacking trip takes you through some of the most scenic and breathtaking places in the Wallowa Mountains, including the very popular Lakes Basin Management Area (with Ice Lake and Matterhorn Side Trip).

This trip begins at the Wallowa Lake Trailhead at the south end of the lake. Permits are free and self-issued at the trailhead. Parking is also free!

Follow the West Fork Wallowa Trail (#1820) for 3.1 miles until you reach Ice Lake Trail (#1808). Take a right on 1808 if you want to do the Ice Lake and Matterhorn side trip. If not, continue on 1820 for 3.3 miles until you reach the junction with the Lakes Basin Trail (#1810). Take a right on 1810 and continue 3 miles to Horseshoe Lake, then another 1.6 miles to Lee Lake. After these lakes, continue to the junction with the Moccasin Lake Trail (#1810A) and take 1810A to Moccasin Lake. From the lake, continue to the junction with the Glacier Lake Trail (#1806). Note: Lee Lake to the 1806 junction is about 1.8 miles.

Continue on 1806 for 2.8 miles until you reach Glacier Pass/Glacier Lake. Descend through the valley another 2.2 miles until you reach Frazier Lake and the junction with 1820. Take 1820 towards Polaris Pass/Polaris Trail (#1831), about 2 miles away. Be careful not to miss the turn off (which will be on the right) for 1831. Switchback up to Polaris Pass, then descend to the junction with East Fork Wallowa Trail (#1804) for a total of 7.5 miles. Continue on 1804 for about 2.4 miles until you reach Aneroid Lake. From Aneroid Lake, continue on 1804 for 6.3 miles until you reach the Wallowa Lake Trailhead.

My Itinerary:
  • Day 1: Wallowa Lake Trailhead to Ice Lake (8.2 miles)
  • Day 2: Ice Lake to Matterhorn summit, then back down to Ice Lake/West Fork Wallowa junction (10.1 miles)
  • Day 3: Ice Lake/West Fork Wallowa junction to Moccasin Lake (9.7 miles)
  • Day 4: Moccasin Lake to Frazier Lake (5 miles)
  • Day 5: Frazier Lake to Aneroid Lake (11.9 miles)
  • Day 6: Aneroid Lake to Wallowa Lake Trailhead (6.3 miles)

For more info, check out Backpacking Oregon by Douglas Lorain (contains a more detailed description of this trip, but the loop is described in reverse) as well as the Eagle Cap Wilderness map by Imus Geographics (terrible map, but pretty much the only one until Green Trails completes their version).

Pack List

  • Ten essentials
  • Backpack (50-70 liters)
  • Tent (at least 3 season)
  • Sleeping bag
  • Sleeping pad
  • Hiking boots or trail shoes
  • Camp shoes/sandals
  • Appropriate clothing, including extra layers
  • Water bottle and/or hydration bladder
  • Toiletries (toothbrush, biodegradable soap, hand sanitizer, etc.)
  • Trowel
  • Food and snacks
  • Trekking poles (optional, but highly recommended)
  • Camera (optional)
  • Pen/pencil and paper for journaling (optional)
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Activities:

Backpacking, Camping, Hiking

Skill Level:

Intermediate

Season:

Summer, Autumn

Trail Type:

Loop

Distance:

51 Miles

Elev. Gain:

11400 Feet

Features:

Forest
Lake
River
Scenic
Waterfall
Wildflowers
Wildlife

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