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Painted Hills

Exploring Wallowa County

Written by Oregon Media

Exploring Wallowa County

Natural Beauty from National Forests to Pristine High Lakes

Eagle Cap Wilderness in Wallowa County By far the state’s largest wilderness area, the Eagle Cap Wilderness covers about 534 miles of trails. These trails lead to four wild and scenic rivers, plus the legendary high lakes of Oregon. In the region’s towns, plenty of diversions await visitors who seek culture, fun and a scenic backdrop. The diversity of landscape is vast, and all of it is wild and remote. Much of Wallowa County’s land is federally protected, and thus, pristine.

Wilderness entry points


Up the east fork of the Lostine Canyon, Two Pan Trailhead provides access to Lakes Basin and any number of backcountry trips. Stop for your last espresso or latte at the Blue Banana in Lostine.

Wallowa Lake

Wallowa Lake From the Wallowa Lake Trailhead—where the highway dead ends into the side of a mountain—access to the Eagle Cap Wilderness is plentiful. Within minutes of hiking, knee-high creeks weave against trails. During summer, hikers can take their pack into the backcountry for a multi-day adventure via Wallowa Lake Pack Station. Families can claim a campsite near the trailhead or closer to the lake at Wallowa Lake State Park. Try your luck with a fishing pole and a boat rental (paddle or motor) at Wallowa Lake Marina, next door to the state park, where angling expertise is on offer. Get a bird’s-eye view of the landscape by taking the Wallowa Lake Tramway to the top of Mt. Howard.

Into the Wild

“The jagged, white-granite peaks, sparkling lakes, and wildflower-covered meadows of the Wallowa Mountains make this range one of the most beautiful in the nation. In fact, there is so much glorious scenery here that a lifetime would be inadequate to see all of its glories.” Douglas Lorain, 100 Classic Hikes in Oregon

Explore the remote reaches

The forty-six-mile flow of the Minam River, from Blue Lake to its confluence with the Wallowa River, constitutes one of the largest rivers in the state that is considered nearly pristine. This is just one entry point to the Eagle Cap Wilderness. Access this and much more via horseback through pack station tours.

Backcountry Revelry

Pack in with del sol

With Del Sol Wilderness Adventures, riders are in the company of folks who’ve spent thirty years training horses and trekking the Minam and Snake River trails. You’ll feel like you have, too.

Minam River Lodge

Fly, hike or ride in to find rustic luxury in the wilderness at Minam River Lodge. People will “come to the lodge just to be there—to read a book by the wild and scenic river, enjoy innovative wilderness cuisine from our own garden and local farms, or just relax and put away their electronic devices,” said owner Barnes Ellis. Old-world craftsmanship is apparent in the new lodge and cabins include many of the original materials used to build the retreat in the mid-20th century. Guests can lounge in the wood-fired hot tub, ride horses and eat locally-sourced meals of delicious foods.

Wallowa Valley barn tour

Barns are at the Heart of Wallowa County

Wallowa County Barn In the early 2000s, the Wallowa Valley Photo Club published two barn books so people could discover the Wallowa Valley through the iconic structures. “We have received a multitude of calls over the years asking about the Wallowa County Barn Tour,” said Vicki Searles of the Wallowa County Chamber. “Why? Because there is a history here in loving barns and heritage.” The excursion has been revived, with a new brochure detailing thirty-plus barns and historic sites on a self-guided tour. The tour includes a bike route and an early pioneer account of the county’s north end settlements, Flora and Troy. However you approach the tour, it’s guaranteed to be rugged, nostalgic and full of beautiful views.