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Trip

Backpack - Frances Lake

Backpack to rarely visited, beautiful Frances Lake, nestled in a high alpine basin below Hurricane Divide in Oregon's Wallowa Mountains. Ascend well-graded switchbacks over an 8,600 ft pass and descend 900 feet to the lake. Explore meadows, streams and tarns in the lake basin, enjoy birds near the trail and lake, mountain goats and other wildlife on slopes of Hurricane Divide above the lake.

Info
COVID-19: Learn about our most up-to-date guidance for participants and leaders on our COVID-19 Response page. All participants and leaders must agree to the COVID-19 Code of Conduct before participating in this Mountaineers activity.
  • Moderate
  • Mileage: 18.4 mi
  • Elevation Gain: 4,500 ft

7:30am:  Frances Lake-Bowman trailhead parking area (east/left side of Lostine River Road) 14.7 miles south of Lostine via Lostine River Road.

UPDATED 6/14 (tinerary details):

Covid-19 -- This trip is open only to folks that are fully vaccinated, in accordance with Mountaineers updated policy and  leader's preference.   Leader will request a copy of vaccination card for proof.

Members only.  Minimum  3 persons.  Leader permission required with permission link form.

Request permission using leader permission link (and forward copy of completed form in an email, as I am not receiving some permission forms) including responses to minimum experience/qualifications:  Mountaineers multi-night moderate (or higher difficulty) backpacks completed during current and past 2 years, at least one higher elevation (mostly over 7,500') Mountaineers backpack completed during past 5 years, current hiking/conditioning activities, and why this backpack is of interest (backpacking only, wildflowers. wildlife, photography, etc.)   Leader will not review incomplete requests.

** Be sure you read all leader notes and route/place info, prior to submitting leader permission request.

Backpack to the rarely visited, beautiful Frances Lake, nestled in a high alpine basin below Hurricane Divide in Oregon's Wallowa Mountains.  Ascend well-graded switchbacks over an 8,600 ft pass and descend 900 feet to the lake. Explore meadows, streams and tarns in the lake basin, enjoy birds near the trail and lake, mountain goats and other wildlife on slopes of Hurricane Divide above the lake.

It's said by one guidebook author that the vegetation at Frances Lake resembles mountainous areas of Alaska - stunted trees, a few willows, a lot of tundra and exposed rock.  One of best areas in Wallowa to see mountain goats and bighorn sheep.  Binocs/telephotos recommended for wildlife.

No water available between trailhead and Frances Lake. 

Leisurely to moderate pace to enjoy nature, wildflowers, wildlife, photography opportunities, and scenery.  If you are looking for a faster paced backpack, please choose a different backpack. 

Consider extending your backpacking in the Wallowas, and add the July 21-24 Bonny Lakes-Imnaha Divide backpack.

Daily itinerary: even-graded trail between trailhead & Frances Lake.

Day 1: Backpack via 8,610 ft pass to Frances Lake, 9.2 miles with  3,400 ft gain to the pass & 900 ft loss to the lake.

Day 2:  Explore Frances Lake basin area's scenic meadows, streams, tarns and view wildlife, minimal gain and distances on short hikes from camp. If you wish to fish for trout, this is a fine place (you'll need fishing license).

Day 3:  Backpack from Frances Lake via 8,610 pass to traihead, 900 ft gain and 3,400 ft loss.

Route/Place

Frances Lake


Roster
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