Glacier Lake


Forest Service Trail #1806

Why: Stunning and stark alpine lake

Season: Mid-July through September

Ease: Moderate to difficult. It’s 2.6 miles and 1,000 feet up from Frazier Lake, or 2 miles and 1,000 feet up from Moccasin Lake.

No matter how you get to Glacier Lake, there’s no denying that it’s a spectacular place. It’s not warm and friendly, however, rather stark and cold. Literally cold, for the spot can attract the worst of the Wallowa weather. A friend came close to hypothermia there during one summer storm.

What I remember most about Glacier is the relative lack of color there as compared to other Wallowa alpine lakes – with the possible exception of Maxwell, which I also found cold in feel. There is grey and white – and more grey and white. The rocks – and there are lots of those, the snow, the whitebark pine snags all are grey and white. Perhaps there was some blue in the lake itself and in the sky. But I remember few if any flowers in bloom except for a bunch huddled against a rock.

Perhaps the most impressive view of the lake is from the top of the Eagle Cap. From there, you can see just how the lake and it’s smaller neighbors are set in a vast, rocky area of the high Wallowas.

Hiking to the lake from Frazier is a straightforward hutch up the West Fork Wallowa River from Frazier Lake. When I hiked there in August, that’s where the flowers were – and there was a myriad of them. Hiking up from Moccasin Lake seems a bit more work, though in actuality it’s not much different by dimension. But the switchbacks seem to go on forever, even to those hiking down.

In between is Glacier Pass, another spot of fine views: The Eagle Cap, Lakes Basin, Matterhorn and Hurricane drainage on one side; The West Fork Wallowa on another, with Glacier Lake tucked in to the south.

Directions: The trail to Glacier from Frazier feels like a continuation of the trail up to that lake along the West Fork Wallowa (hike 34), for it goes straight up the hillside when the trail to Hawkins Pass heads left at the west end of Frazier Lake. The trail from Moccasin is to the south off the Lakes Basin Trail (hike 60). It crosses a narrow bit of land that separates the two sections of Moccasin.

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 map.