Wallowa River Loop

The Best Backpacking Guide for Wallowa River Loop

Some call it the gem of Northeast Oregon, and some call it America’s Switzerland and others just prefer “Oregon’s Alps”. No matter what you call it this is truly a hiker’s paradise.

I’m talking about the Wallowa Range — the landlocked mountainous region that is stunning in every respect. It is the patchwork of 9,000 high peaks, nearly 60 Alpine crystal lakes, and deep valleys. Within the miscellaneous beauty of nature, it successfully concealed 500 miles of hiking trails. The entire valley is locked by roads opening to 25 trailheads.

Few hiking destinations offer the sheer wilderness experience of the Wallowa Range, which spirals through a transcendental high glaciated, granitic range. What differentiates the Wallowa Mountains from the range due east of La Grande is that — with its spacious alpine area,  the Wallowa Mountains offer a variety of loop trails that you can hike along to experience the wilderness.

The iconic trek takes you through the 36-mile Wallowa River Loop. You get a chance to explore beautiful granite peaks, breathtaking mountain scenery, deep valleys and of course clear lakes.

Below are a few highlights of the amazing spots and loops you’ll pass through when hiking:

Glacier Mountain Loop


glacier mountain loop
glacier mountain loop

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Extending from the Two Pan Trailhead, the Glacier Mountain Loop features breathtaking scenery of the Western Wallowas. The loop winds through alpine meadows, past gorgeous valley-bottom trails. The trail wades through a plethora of iconic valleys and meadows. The Copper and Elkhorn Creeks add an extra layer of visual appeal to the trail.

As you will move South, the trail will extend into the Minam River Valley. To finish the loop, head east along the valley, pass through beneath the hanging valleys and high peaks. Now you will have to climb to approach Minam Lake. Follow the main intersection of the Lost line River back to the trailhead, and you surmounted the Glacier Mountain Loop!

Eagle Cap Wilderness Loop


Eagle Cap Wilderness Loop
Eagle Cap Wilderness Loop


The loop boasts mesmerizing wildflowers, lake panoramas, and lots of tranquility. If you’re a photographer, you can’t resist clicking away as you’ll be immersed in its beauty. For a hiker, the loop is rather long but features an epic trek that is the perfect image of the Southwestern Wallowas. If you chose to hike along the loop in the fall, it will decorate itself with golden yellowish Larch trees. As you hike along the trail, you will come to the South Fork Imnaha River. Then, head east, passing along the river past lonelier country and tamer mountains.

Wallowa Lake

Your hiking journey along the Wallowa Range will remain incomplete unless you’ve seen Wallowa Lake. The lake caters to the population of jet skis, pontoon boats, swimmers, motorboats that make it the main attraction of the range. It measures 1,508 acres and descends into 299 feet depth. The lake offers a great fishing and recreation spot. Besieged by 9,000-foot mountains, the lake provides a plethora of trout and with kokanee.

The Wallowa Range at a Glance

  • Location: Eagle Cap Wilderness, Oregon, United States
  • Distance: 36 miles
  • Average Hiking Period: 4-5 days
  • Difficulty: moderate to difficult
  • When to Go: July-September

Main Attractions

  • Beautiful granite peaks
  • Clear alpine lakes
  • Mesmerizing glacier-curved valleys
  • Well designated trails
  • Free and self-issued permits

What to Pack?

  • Navigation (map and compass)
  • Insulation (extra clothing)
  • Essentials (first-aid supplies, lighter, repair kit, nutrition, and hydration)
  • Backpack (50-70 liters)
  • At least a 3-season tent
  • Sleeping bag
  • Hiking boots
  • Trail shoes
  • Sleeping pad

Bottom Line

The Wallowa Range is mesmerizing in every aspect that can only be seen to experience. Surrounded by mountains, lakes and zigzag trails, you’ll return to the place again and again! I think You like my backpacking tips. Please share this content with your friends. Thanks for reading!

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