Eagle Cap Lakes Basin Loop


Backpack - Eagle Cap Lakes Basin Loop

This 3-day backpack circles through the Lakes Basin in Eagle Cap Wilderness, Oregon's answer to California's High Sierra and Washington's Enchantment Lakes. It is a fairyland of lakes ringed with dark green conifer, spotted with white granite domes and fringed with lush meadows, with craggy peaks looming above. By early August the passes and lakes should be melted out.

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  • Moderate/Strenuous
  • Challenging
  • Mileage: 30.0 mi
  • Elevation Gain: 3,900 ft

Participants should plan to make the drive the afternoon of Friday August 1st, as it will take over 6 hours to get to the trailhead.

West Wallowa State Park trailhead; participants must  be at trailhead by 9 a.m. Saturday morning August 2nd, when the backpack will start.   We will come out Monday afternoon and be back to Seattle late that evening (or those who wish can camp or hotel it somewhere in between that night on your own).

This trip is open to all club members over age 18, but is part of the Foothills Branch  "B3" Backpacking Building Blocks course, and successful completion will provide credit toward B3 course graduation requirements.  Since this backpack is part of B3, emphasis will be placed during the trip on coaching and review of key trail skills and gear usage.

The trail sets out from the Wallowa Lake TH near Wallowa Lake State Park just a few miles south of Enterprise, Oregon, about a 6.5 hour drive from Seattle.

We'll work together to arrange carpools for Friday afternoon, with camping or hotels near the trailhead on Friday night, August 1st. 

On our first day, we will hike from the trailhead (~5500') approximately 5 miles to Six Mile Meadow (6000'), and beyond another 2-5 miles miles toward Frazier Lake (7200') and/or Glacier Lake where we'll find our first night's camps.  On day two we'll head over Glacier pass (8500') and through the Lakes Basin (~7600'), camping in the meadows back from the lakes.  If time allows, those who wish can get an early start and take the 4 mile side trip up the rough boot path to the top of Eagle Cap Peak (9300').  On day 3 we'll finish our circuit through the lakes basin to Six Mile Meadow and head to the trailhead for the long drive back.  {Day 1:  8-10 miles, 1700' gain; day 2:  8-12 miles, 1300' gain + optional Eagle Cap summit 4 mi 1700'; day 3:  10 miles, 2100' drop.}

Participants should be in good aerobic condition, able to easily complete 10 mile days with a loaded pack at an average pace of 1.5 to 2 mph without having to take frequent rest breaks.  Please email the leader to obtain permission to register for the trip.    Please sign up only if you are fairly certain that you wil lcome on the trip; even early cancellations become problematic with the distance and coordination of travel to the trailhead.

Participants will need to be prepared for all kinds of weather, as this country can experience summertime blizzards and heavy rainstorms as well as warm days.  Everyone will be expected to store their food securely, and trees for adequate hanging will be in short supply, so Ursacks or bear canisters are recommended.  The leader will send out a series of emails in advance of the trip to help participants prepare to pack light  Sharing of gear is strongly encouraged and will be coordinated during the pre-trip planning.

The trip may be cancelled or moved in case of bad weather.


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
Trip Reports