Blue Lake


Forest Service Trail #1673A

Why? Beautiful lake and fine views into the Minam River Basin and of the “backside” of the Eagle Cap.

Season: July through September

Ease: Easy to moderate, 1 mile and 330 in elevation change.

Though I suppose that most people hike to Blue Lake for the lake itself, my fondest memories of my hike to Blue are not of that lake. Which of course is not to take away from the beauty of the lake itself or its setting, for both are undeniable, but only to emphasize the scenery on the way up and down to the lake. That scenery was so enticing that it led to two other hikes in later years.

What I saw as I hiked to Blue Lake was a huge bowl that sits at the base of the ridge containing the Eagle Cap, Glacier Peak and a lower outcrop that looked like a bumpy and small Yosemite Half Dome. That ridge connects, via a long, low saddle, with another containing Needle Point and several unnamed 8,000-foot plus peaks. The saddle, which holds Frazier Pass, and the bowl below the ridge were bright green when I saw them late in the season, and the peaks above were rocky, pale and dotted with snow.

The bowl below the Eagle Cap was so appealing that I put the trail through it, The Minam River Trail, on my “to do “ list right then and there, and I’m happy to say I’ve been on it twice.

I met hikers along the trail to Blue Lake who had binoculars, and with them we could see hikers working their way along the trail up the backside of the Eagle Cap. They made it look not so bad – I’d always figured that getting to the top of that mountain would be scary and very difficult. Since then, I’ve done it myself, twice, and found it not all that difficult and only moderately scary in places (hike 58).

As for Blue Lake itself – it’s gorgeous, a lovely, clear body of water at the base of a dramatic white cliff, and well worth the hike even if you don’t look at the scenery along the way.

Directions: The trail to Blue Lake is a right off the trail that traces the shoreline of Minam Lake, just past the end of the lake.

Information: U.S. Forest Service Wallowa Mountains Visitors Services, Joseph, OR, (541) 426-5546.

Maps: USGS Eagle Cap, Oregon; Imus Geographics Wallowa Mountains, Eagle Cap Wilderness, Oregon.