East Pine Creek and Norway Creek


Forest Service Trails #1865 and #1896

Why? Fine views of the Red Mountain ridge and a wonderful high saddle camping spot.

Season: July through October

Ease: Moderate to difficult. It’s 4 miles and 1,800 feet up to the saddle camping spot from the Imnaha River, another 4.8 miles and 2,800 feet down to Cornucopia.

Though the original reason for hiking this trail was to enable us to make a through hike with a not-too-long car shuttle, the trail turned out to have a lot to offer besides convenience. The views of the Red to Granite Mountain Ridge were outstanding, its highlight a bowl with its base hidden behind a low front ridge that I believe holds the Red Mountain Reservoir. The low front ridge is white rock with occasional red, covered with light green vegetation and groups of dark green trees. A jagged brown intrusion seems to border it on the south, a ridge that juts down from Granite Mountain and forms part of the backdrop to the Pine Lakes.

Most of these views come after the great camping spot and before the trail starts its final descent to East Fork Pine Creek and, ultimately, Cornucopia. To get to them, you have to hike up a bit over 4 miles from the Imnaha River. The first part of that, to the trail junction with the East Fork Pine Creek Trail, is nicely switchbacked and relatively easy hiking – except for deadfall, which was numerous. Live larch helped distract our attention from the climbing over. From that trail junction to the next, with the Sugarloaf Trail, it’s steep and skunky. But topping out on the saddle with the camping spot makes the whole climb worth the effort.

The camping spot sits on a large, flat saddle – a huge meadow bordered by trees and featuring a ditch that connects the Imnaha and Pine Creek drainages. In August, it ran clear and warm, a wonderful spot for a bath. The views were fine, especially the neighboring west ridge, and the morning elk was appreciated as were the numerous white bark pine both dead and alive.

From there to the start of the downhill to East Pine is where the best views are. After that, it’s downhill, mostly on old roads, and not a fun hike. Much is in the open because the trail travels through a large burn, one that destroyed the log cabin that used to sit next to the trail. After the burn, the road is rocky and dusty down to East Fork Pine, when it pretty much stays the same. In other words, the last couple miles of hiking aren’t fun, and

I certainly wouldn’t want to start my hike that way, However, if I was at Cornucopia, it’d be worth the effort to hike up to the saddle.

Note: The Cornucopia Trailhead is somewhat difficult to locate, even with directions. Since the first few miles of this trail once it starts uphill are unpleasantly so, I suggest using this trail as we did – as a way to have a through hike starting at Summit Point.

Directions: Drive the Cornucopia Road out of Halfway, taking a right in Cornucopia to the Pack and Lodge. Park in big tailings pile below the Lodge. The road does continue, but there are few if any safe places to park after that. Walk on the main road around to the left of the Lodge, then turn right at the sign saying “road closed.”
The Imnaha River trailhead is on the South Fork Imnaha, which is 10.8 miles up from Indian Crossing.

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

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

Connections: A fine through hike with a reasonable car shuttle can be made using the Cliff Creek Trail, a portion of the Imnaha River Trail and this trail. I suggest doing it in that direction. The maps suggest it’s also possible to combine this trail with others and reach either Deadman or Twin Lakes, hikes I have not done.