Main Eagle Creek to Eagle Lake


Forest Service Trails #1922 and #1931

Why? Spectacular valley with great high lakes side trips.

Season: Mid-July through September

Ease: Moderate to Difficult. It’s 4 miles and about 1,000 feet up to good camping near the junction with the trail to Lookingglass Lake, 6.8 miles and 2,540 feet up to Eagle Lake.

Choosing the loveliest drainage in the Wallowas would be impossible for me. Just when I think I’ve found a personal favorite, I hike another that’s new to me and seems to qualify for the title. So I think I’ll go the wisdom route and just say that the Main Eagle Creek drainage is one of the loveliest.

Along the top of its ridges there are white rocks with brown intrusions here and there. Below that there are fine colors, especially on the east, with huge pink-brown sections of rock slashed with other colors. There’s lots and lots of green, bright meadow green and dark tree green, decorating even the highest rock. Needle Point, which guards Eagle Lake to the southwest, stands out at the upper end. Bench Canyon, which boasts an unpleasant steep trail down its last couple of miles, looks serene sitting high above Main Eagle to the west with an unnamed mountain to its north. The best views of it all, however, come from a couple trails up its sides.

The trail up Main Eagle itself is pretty standard Wallowa stuff. There are switchbacks, stream crossings, meadows and lots of nearby mountains. Of particular note along Main is the lovely waterfall on Copper Creek – not the same Copper Creek as the one off the West Fork Lostine, of course. (One does wonder why there are two Copper Creeks in the Wallowas, just as there are two Echo Lakes and two who-knows-what-elses.) At roughly 4 miles in, there’s a huge meadow where the side trail to Lookingglass and other lakes heads off to the east. It’s a fine camp spot, especially if you plan a day hike up to them.

About 1 ½ miles up the meadow from that side trail, the Main Eagle trail junctions with the Trail Creek Trail. Main Eagle continues to Eagle Lake on a well graded and relatively easy uphill that ends at the lake, with plenty of fine views down Main Eagle and toward Cached Creek along the way.

Eagle is an interesting lake, starkly set in the rocks and held in place by a wire-enclosed rock dam at its southern end. The water is an unusual but lovely turquoise color. Eagle wouldn’t be a good place to camp, but it’s a great side trip and snack or lunch spot. If you’ve been to Moon and Hidden Lakes off East Eagle Creek, it’s also intriguing to note that those two lakes are close, just over the ridge to the northeast above Eagle.

Trail Notes: Trail #1922 actually seems to have two names, Main Eagle and Trail Creek. I have separated out the portion that parallels Main Eagle in this hike and included the trip to Eagle Lake, an extension that seems logical to me. The rest of the #1922 trail is covered under Trail Creek.

Also, I have been conservative with my hiking season, for some sources say Main Eagle is available earlier and later in the year than both East and West Eagle.

Directions: Drive Road 67 about 16 miles from Medical Springs, then turn left on Road 77. Drive 1 mile, then turn right on Road 7755 which ends 6 miles later at the Main Eagle Creek Trailhead.

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

Maps: USGS Krag Peak and Bennet Peak, Oregon; Imus Geographics Wallowa Mountains, Eagle Cap Wilderness map.

Connections: If you continue past the trail to Eagle Lake on trail #1922, you can access several other areas. You can return to the Main Eagle Trailhead if you make a lollipop top type hike by following #1922 and then #1937 down Bench Canyon back to the Main Eagle Trail. You can continue down #1922 to the Minam River or head up on the West Eagle Trail to Wonker Pass and the West Eagle Trailhead.