Backpack - Eagle Cap Lakes Basin Loop


Backpack - Eagle Cap Lakes Basin Loop

A six day intermediate backpack into the beautiful Eagle Cap Wilderness Lakes Basin, featuring over a dozen lakes and tarns surrounded by spectacular peaks. This area has been nicknamed the Alps of Oregon, and even has a peak named the Matterhorn. Please note, this is a leader permission required trip.

  • Moderate/Strenuous
  • Challenging
  • Mileage: 47.0 mi
  • Elevation Gain: 12,000 ft
  • High Point Elevation: 9,500 ft
  • Pace: 1.5-2.0 mph

The trip starts at the Wallowa Lake trailhead. It's about a 7 hour drive from the Seattle area. The exact starting time is TBD, but expect it to be sometime in the mid-morning.

 Please note, this is a leader permission required trip.

The plan for this Intermediate Backpack is to explore and enjoy one of the classics of the northwest. There are photo opportunities around every corner.  The first day has two options (which will be decided as the trip gets closer). Option 1 is to hike in via Aneroid Lake, and option 2 is to take the tram to Mt Howard, hike the ridge, drop off trail to  Dollar Lake. We will plan to have ample time around Glacier Lake, and IMO one of the more beautiful areas. Followed by a couple nights around the Mirror Lake area, where we will of course do the iconic summit of Eagle Cap, as well as explore and check out the possibilities of a high route to Ice Lake. Note that this is primarily off trail, and we will not be taking risks. Then, like the first day, the last day has three options, either a loop back to the Wallowa Lake TH or a different TH requiring a shuttle. See the caltopo map for more details, Since one of the options for the last is 12.5 miles, please do not make plans such that you need to be at the trailhead at any particular time.

Tentative Itinerary:

Day 1: Hike about 6 miles with 2500' gain, and camp at Dollar Lake @8500'. Or hike about 6.5 miles with 2900' gain, and camp at Aneroid Lake @7500'.

Day 2: Hike 10-11 miles with 1500' or 2300' gain (depending on the previous nights camp). Camp at Frazier Lake @7100'.

Day 3: Maybe check out Little Frazier Lake, before doing the short 2.5 mi hike with 1000' gain to Glacier Lake @8100'. Explore the Glacier Lake and Prospect Lake area. Note that the picture in the posting is Glacier Lake, taken a few years back.

Day 4: Morning photography before moving camp to the Mirror Lake area @7600', only about 3 mi with 800' gain. We may decide to summit Eagle Cap that afternoon, or wait until the next day

Day 5: This is the 'off-day'. Time for exploration. Options include scouting out a high land route towards Ice Lake, checking out Minam Lake and Blue Lake, checkout more of the lake basin. There is also a possibility of moving camp towards our exit route.

Day 6: Do the 12 miles to the trail head.

Details of the trip will change a bit as they firm up (and the posting will be updated), but the idea is to enjoy the beauty of the Wallow Mountains. IMO this area is worth carrying the extra weight of a tripod.

One last note: the leader is sometimes "off the grid" for a week at a time. Please be patient, I will get back to you in time.


Eagle Cap Lakes Basin Loop

Required Equipment

Required Equipment

The Ten Essentials plus overnight gear which may include:

  • Tent with footprint/ground tarp
  • Stove and fuel
  • Sleeping bag
  • Sleeping pad
  • Water filter
  • Bear canister or extra stuff sack and cord designated for hanging food
  • Cooking pot/pan with plate and utensils
  • Toilet paper and shovel or blue bag to deal with waste
  • Full rain gear
  • Pack cover
Trip Reports