Chimney and Hobo Lakes


Forest Service Trail #1659

Why? Two beautiful lakes, a perfect campspot, and unreal views of Twin Peaks.

Season: Mid-July through September

Ease: Moderate to difficult. It’s just 1.5 miles and just 400+ feet up to Chimney Lake from the Bowman Trail and another 1.7 miles and 700 feet up to Hobo. However, if you day hike to the lakes from the Bowman Trailhead, it’s 2,400 feet up over 5.3 miles to Chimney.

It’s a long haul from the trailhead, but Hobo Lake boasts what looks like the perfect campsite. It’s level, for one. It has views of the north central Eagle Cap wilderness peaks that will knock your socks off, especially of Twin Peaks. The lake seems to disappear off the edge of the mountain, giving the area a somewhat precarious, balanced aspect. And although Chimney Lake below had plenty of campers, no one was at Hobo either time I visited it.

Chimney sits in a bowl that’s surrounded by meadow, trees, rocks and more rocks. It’s a fine lunch and resting spot if you plan to hike farther up. It’s also a popular camping spot, with most of the camping by the lake instead of in a rather fine area just below the lake that offers views back toward the Lostine valley and mountains beyond.

Getting to Chimney involves a continuation of the switchbacks that characterize the trail up from the Bowman Trailhead to the Brownie Basin. After about ½ mile, the trail skirts the Laverty Lakes – they always come as somewhat of a surprise to me when they appear on the left of the trail.

Chimney is a fine lake on its own, featuring an island and a large meadow. But it’s Hobo Lake that I hike this trail for, and the first part of the trail up to Hobo and Wood Lakes is obvious from Chimney, for it travels up the relatively open slope behind it to the west.
That trail divides after about a mile, the right going to Wood Lake and the left to Hobo.

Though the trail to Hobo is faint in some spots at the start, it wasn’t too difficult to find. However, it becomes even fainter as it passes a small, relatively unattractive body of water and is barely visible in the rocky slope east of that it. Hobo isn’t far from there, a total of about ¾ mile from where its trail branched off from that to Wood.

One of the views from the top is of the hillsides on the northeast side of Frances Lake, on the other side of the Lostine River. The hillsides are red, orange, brown and silver grey, with Twin Peaks on the north. The area doesn’t look like anything else in the Wallowas, or anywhere else I’ve been, for that matter. Except, of course, when I’ve hiked to Frances Lake (hike 29).

Directions: The trail to Chimney and beyond is a right off the Bowman Trail (hike 26) at 3.8 miles in from the Bowman Trailhead.

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

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