East Fork Lostine River


Forest Service Trail #1662

Why? Fantastic meadow and the shortest hike into the Lakes Basin.

Season: Mid-June through September

Ease: Moderate to difficult. It’s 3.2 miles and 1,500 feet up to Lost Lake, 7.3 miles and 2,000 feet up to the Lakes Basin.

The trail along the East Fork of the Lostine River spends a good share of its 7-plus miles in one of the loveliest meadows I ever hope to see. It sits between two ridges, the south end of the Hurricane Divide and the ridge that separates the drainages of the East and West Forks of the Lostine. The river meanders through the meadow as if it had no where to go any time soon, and the entire scene is presided over by the Eagle Cap sitting high above to the south. This is my favorite entry into the center of this wilderness, though its neighbors, the West Fork (hike 21) and Hurricane Creek (hike 32) are almost as fine, but longer.

I was pleasantly surprised on my first hike up the East Fork to find a lake in the Eagle Cap Wilderness that can be reached on a relatively short day hike and without having to climb up a couple thousand feet of elevation. Lost Lake, which is a bit more than 3 miles up the East Fork of the Lostine River, also sits in a pretty nice neighborhood, just at the base of the Hurricane Divide, a massive, towering rock structure that juts a couple thousand feet above the lake.

Lost Lake isn’t alpine, so don’t expect to find fields of wild flowers and reflections of nearby snowy peaks. What you will find instead is a lake that’s a widened section of the East Fork itself, with many treed spots that make good places to spend some quiet time, enjoy the scenery – which includes the Eagle Cap if you choose your spot well - and have lunch or camp.

The trail to the lake starts with a couple of miles of uphill walking in the woods. In spots, if you look back, you’ll be able to look back down the Lostine drainage. When you near the lake but before reaching it, you’ll walk past a falls, through a small meadow, then past a small pond.

Once you’ve reached the Lost Lake area, you’ll begin to have really fine views of about two miles of meadow with the Eagle Cap sitting atop the ridge at their end. It’s probably the best meadow in the Wallowas, or at least the one you can see the most of and enjoy for the longest. It’s one of my favorite spots, one I’ve hiked to more than once.

The trail crosses the East Fork a second time toward the south end of the meadow, then heads uphill to junction with the Lakes Basin trail between Mirror and Upper Lakes. It’s just a bit over 7 miles to there, making this the shortest entry into the Lakes Basin.

Trail Notes: The trail makes its first crossing of the East Fork below Lost Lake. There used to be a bridge. If you look a bit upstream, you will find a slightly better fording spot than where the bridge used to be.

Directions: At the town of Lostine, turn off Highway 82 onto Road 8210 signed for Lostine Campgrounds. It ends at Two Pan 17 ½ miles later. There are two starts to this trail, one out of the parking lot and one at the end of the road. They join before the trails up the East and West forks split a short while later.

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.

Connections: Obviously, this trail takes you into the Lakes Basin. You can tour the lakes, head up the Eagle Cap, or take one of several passes to hike the West Fork Lostine, East Eagle Creek, Hurricane Creek, or even the West Fork Wallowa or the South Fork Imnaha.