The Wallowa Mountains have 25 trailheads that lead into the National Forest and Eagle Cap Wilderness, and more than 500 miles of trails for people of all abilities. Here are seven convenient hiking places near the Mountain View Motel & RV Park for people who don't want to go for a strenuous backpacking trip, but prefer a day hike on these beautiful and varied trails.
Iwetemlaykin State Heritage Site
The 62-acre Iwetemlaykin site marks the beginning of the Nez Perce National Historic Trail. The short trails here lead through a grassland to a wooded area and pond. Turn left at the pond and walk to the end of the trail to reach the Old Chief Joseph Grave Site.
Getting There: The heritage site is 2.8 miles from the Mountain View Motel & RV Park. Turn right (south) onto Hwy 82 and drive through Joseph. The road Bear left at the south end of town to stay on this becomes OR-351, otherwise known as the Wallowa Lake Highway. Watch for the parking area on your right. If you reach the Old Chief Joseph Gravesite you've gone too far.
Though it has been described as a "relatively unremarkable" trail compared to the stunning mountain vistas and tumbling waterfalls on the nearby Wallowa forest trails, this lightly used path on the 3500 acre Nature Conservancy's Clear Lake Ridge Preserve is a good hike in late winter and early spring because it is warmer and drier than much of the surrounding area. Acceptable for hikers of all skill levels, the follows and occasionally crosses the mostly-dry creek bed, with water in some places that goes underground in others. You may have to cross on a few rocks to keep your feet dry. The trail leads through some sagebrush terrain and undergrowth to an abandoned bunkhouse next to a spring and areas of Ponderosa pine. There are numerous side gulches and ridges for exploring. Keep your eyes open for bears, deer, and elk. Wear long sleeves and pants to protect against a few thorny bushes along the way.
Getting There: From Mountain View Motel & RV Park go right (south) on Hwy 82 into Joseph (1.8 mile). Turn left onto E. Wallowa Ave, (see sign to Halfway and Imnaha) and drive approximately 21 miles east on the Little Sheep Creek Highway. After you pass the Wallowa-Whitman National Forest sign, pull over at the next tributary and park on the south side of the road. If you pass a fish hatchery located .5 mile further, you’ll know you have missed the preserve entrance. Cross the footbridge over the creek just east of the preserve signs. Go through the pole fence and hike up the canyon.
Hurricane Creek Trail
The Hurricane Creek Trail leads into the Eagle Cap Wilderness and features stunning scenery and mountain vistas within a short walk of the trailhead. The lower parts of the trail are snow free before other portions of the Wallowa Mountain trail system. A couple hundred yards beyond the trailhead, turn right onto the Falls Creek trail for an easy quarter mile side trip to see Fall Creek crashing down from Lake Legore, the highest lake in Oregon at 8,960 feet.
Back on the main trail, about a tenth of a mile later, you will have to ford Falls Creek, which may not want to do during periods of high water. Three quarters of a mile up this trail is an area of knocked down trees, the result of an avalanche. The Eagle Cap Wilderness sign is in the middle of this area. At 1.5 miles, the trail crosses Deadman Creek. If you brought binoculars, look for mountain goats and bighorn sheep in the higher parts of the Deadman Creek drainage. This trail continues past more waterfalls and stream crossings to some good dispersed campsites about 5.5 miles in. Some people walk all the way to the Lakes Basin about 12 miles, but the trail is mostly used as a 6.5 mile day hike to Slick Rock Creek.
Getting There: From the Mountain View Motel & RV Park, turn right (south) onto the Joseph Hwy. (Hwy 82) and drive into town 1.8 miles. Turn right (west) on W. Wallowa Ave., which turns into Airport Lane, also known as Hurricane Creek Road. Continue on this for another 0.5 miles to the white Hurricane Creek Grange and turn left onto County Road 521 (becomes Forest Road 8205). This is shown as Hurricane Creek road on Google Maps. Drive about 3.7 miles to the trailhead. The road becomes narrow with turnouts and is not recommended for RVs. To park at the trailhead you either need to pay $5/day or display a recreation pass. Additionally, if hiking into the Eagle Cap Wilderness your party will need a free WildernessVisitor Permit. Registration and permit boxes are located at the trailhead near the information board.
Chief Joseph Trail
Start at the Wallowa Lake Trailhead at the south end of Wallowa Lake and follow the sign to Chief Joseph Trail. The first .3 miles is shared with the West Fork Wallowa River Trail. At .3 mile stay right to get onto the Chief Joseph Trail, then bear left. (Check out the trail to the extreme right to see dramatic views of the Wallowa River crashing below). Two tenths of a mile later there is a bridge, after which the Chief Joseph Trail climbs some switchbacks. Nearly a mile later there is a good view of Wallowa Lake. BC Creek is at the end of that mile with a fantastic waterfall. Most people stop at this 1.5-mile mark because of the dangerous creek crossing. Experienced hikers can continue on this trail to the summit of 10,000-foot Chief Joseph Mountain.
Getting There: Turn right (south) onto Hwy 82 from the Mountain View Motel & RV Park and drive through Joseph. Bear left as the road turns into OR-351, otherwise known as the Wallowa Lake Highway. Go seven miles to the end of the road. See the entrance to the trails on your left. Recreation passes are not required at the Wallowa Lake Trailheads, but make sure to get a free Wilderness Pass if you plan to head into the Eagle Cap.
West Fork Wallowa River Trail
Start at the Wallowa Lake trailhead and take the same trail as above, then take the trail on your left at the .3-mile junction to explore the West Fork Wallowa River Trail. There is a bit of a climb after the junction for 300 yards, then it changes to a gentler walk as you pass the Wallowa-Whitman National Forest and Eagle Cap Wilderness signs. In the next mile of travel you will find the Refrigerator, a large, ancient rock slide that carries gusts of cold air across the trail. There is an avalanche area at 1.25 miles, then the trail climbs gently and crosses a bridge at the two-mile mark. If you continue on, you will see many more sites on the way to Six Mile Meadow and beyond to the popular Lakes Basin.
Getting There: Turn right (south) onto Hwy 82 from the Mountain View Motel & RV Park and drive through Joseph. Bear left as the road turns into OR-351, otherwise known as the Wallowa Lake Highway. Go seven miles to the end of the road. See the entrance to the trails on your left. Recreation passes are not required at Wallowa Lake Trailheads, but make sure to get a free Wilderness Pass if you plan to head into the Eagle Cap.
The McCully Trailhead provides access to McCully Creek Trail #1812, situated in a warmer open ponderosa pine forest with some great views of the Wallowa Valley.
Getting There: From the Mountain View Motel & RV Park, turn right (south) onto Oregon State 82 into downtown Joseph. After 1.8 mi, turn left on Oregon State 350 for 5.3 miles then turn right onto Tucker Down Road (to Ferguson Ski Area), which is also County Rd. 633. Drive 3 miles and the road becomes Forest Road 3920; Continue on Forest Road 3920 for about 1.3 miles to the fork. Take the right fork and continue 0.5 miles to the trailhead entrance on your right.
High Wallowa Loop National Recreation Trail