Wallowas – Lakes Basin backpacking trip plan

This 4-5 day backpacking trip goes to the popular Lake Basin area in the Wallowas to basecamp near Mirror or Mocassin Lakes. Multiple options exist for day hikes, including to the summit of Eagle Cap Mountain, over Glacier Pass to Glacier Lake, or a loop hike around the Lakes Basin.

  • Lostine Meadows and Eagle Cap
  • Lostine Meadows
  • vista view with Mocassin Lake
  • view from Glacier Pass
  • Glacier Lake

 

Known as the “Alps of Oregon,” the Wallowa Mountains (pronounced Wul-OW-wuh) are located in Northeastern Oregon, with over 360,000 acres designated as the Eagle Cap Wilderness. The Wallowa Mountains contain 31 peaks that rise above 9,000 feet, with U-shaped valleys up to a mile below bare granite peaks and ridges.

Deep in the heart of the Eagle Cap Wilderness, this trip to the Lakes Basin is scenery packed – with granite boulders and slabs, alpine lakes and meadows scattered throughout and surrounded by peaks. The Two Pan trailhead provides the most direct access into the Eagle Cap Wilderness with shorter mileage and less elevation gain than other options.

view of Eagle Cap

Trip Stats

Number of nights:3-4
Distance:20-30 miles
Elevation gain:4,100 - 6,100 ft
Difficulty:moderate
Best time to visit:mid-July to September
Permits:self issued at trailhead
Land management:Wallowa-Whitman National Forest
Eagle Cap Wilderness
Wallowa Mountains Office
(541) 426-5546 or (541) 426-4978

Trip Highlights

  • long expanses of meadows below granite peaks and ridges
  • scenic alpine lakes
  • mountain passes with expansive views

Glacier Lake and Eagle Cap panorama

Itineraries

Distances and elevation gain are approximate and will vary based on selected campsites and routes.

5 days / 4 nights

Day 1Start at the Two Pan trailhead and hike in 3-4 miles, setting up camp in Lostine Meadows for one night
3-4 miles with 1,200-1,500 ft. gain
Day 2Pack up and hike to the Lakes Basin, setting up a basecamp for additional nights near Mirror, Sunshine or Mocassin Lakes.
3-4 miles with 750-1,000 ft. gain
Day 3Day hike to the summit of Eagle Cap
4-5 miles round trip with 2,000 ft. gain
Day 4Day hike to Glacier Pass and Glacier Lake
6 miles round trip with 2,000 ft. gain
Day 5Pack up and hike out to trailhead
7-8 miles with ~2,000 ft. loss

4 days / 3 nights

Day 1Start at the Two Pan trailhead and hike in 7-8 miles, setting up a basecamp near Mirror, Sunshine or Mocassin Lakes.
7-8 miles with ~2,000 ft. gain
Day 2Day hike to the summit of Eagle Cap
4-5 miles round trip with 2,000 ft. gain
Day 3Day hike to Glacier Pass and Glacier Lake
6 miles round trip with 2,000 ft. gain
Day 4Pack up and hike out to trailhead
7-8 miles with ~2,000 ft. loss

Eagle Cap viewpoint on Glacier Lake trail

Conditions to Consider

  • snow covered trails in early season, especially at mountain passes and on the trail to the summit of Eagle Cap
  • strong thunderstorms are possible – keep an eye on weather forecasts and warnings
  • mosquitoes can be abundant in July, but are generally not an issue in August or September
  • cold overnight temps near freezing are possible all summer
  • the Lakes Basin area is popular and can be crowded during the summer, so arriving mid-week is highly recommended

Regulations for Eagle Cap Wilderness

  • Group size: limited to 12 except in the Lakes Basin, where groups are limited to 6
  • Camping: camping within 100 feet of lakes and 100 feet of posted wetlands is prohibited
  • Campfires: prohibited within 1/4 mile of the following lakes: Bear Lake (Bear Creek Area), Blue Lake, Chimney Lake, Dollar Lake, Eagle Lake, Frazier Lake, Little Frazier Lake, Glacier, Hobo Lake, Ice Lake, Jewett Lake, Laverty Lake, Maxwell Lake, Mirror Lake, Moccasin Lake, Prospect Lake, Steamboat Lake, Sunshine Lake, Swamp Lake, Tombstone Lake, Traverse Lake, and Upper Lake
  • Leave no trace: learn more about low impact practices
  • Food storage: there are no specific regulations regarding food storage for Eagle Cap Wilderness, but it’s always a good idea to store food properly. See Backpacking Meal Prep and Food Storage for more info.
  • See additional regulations

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  • trip plan & printable maps with trip routes and camp areas indicated (PDF file)
    • trip stats, itinerary, ranger station info, driving directions, and hike descriptions
    • overview map plus individual maps for each day hike option
  • GPS routes & waypoints for import into smartphone apps (GPX file)

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Personal Responsibility Statement
These trip plans are intended as a resource to help plan a backpacking trip. Although every attempt has been made to provide accurate and current information, you are responsible for your own safety and knowing your own limitations. The publisher and author are not responsible for any loss, damage, or injury that may occur as a result of using this trip plan. Familiarize yourself with the area you intend to explore, check current weather reports, and contact land management agencies for current road and trail conditions before heading out.

Eagle Cap Wilderness sunset