Minam River (just a bit of it)


Forest Service Trail #1673

Why? For the small bit I’ve hiked, a good connector

Season: June through October

Ease: Difficult. It’s 10 ½ miles from Minam Lake to the Elk Creek Trail, 2,500 feet in elevation change.

Of the more than 40 miles of trail along the Minam River, I’ve seen just 10. We used them as a means of getting to the Elk Creek and the Tombstone Lake Trails on a weeklong backpack that started up the East Fork Eagle Creek. While the hike was worth those 10 miles, I can’t say that I enjoyed them.

To be frank, the issue simply was distance and descent. Ten miles of downhill is hard on the legs, and by the time we got to the very welcome camping spot near the bridge over the Minam for the Elk Creek Trail, we had long been ready to stop.

The best part of the hike was at the start, once we passed through the woods below Minam Lake and into the top of the Minam Basin. It’s a lovely space, sitting below the Eagle Cap ridge, open with lots of bright green and rocks.

From there, it’s mostly woods. Admittedly they are lovely, the tree species changing with the descent. And there were pocket meadows to gaze into now and then. But mostly, we just walked and covered our distance.

Directions: The Minam Lake end of the trail is at the southern end of that lake. The other end of the trail is at the Meads Flat Trailhead near the town of Minam.

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

Maps: USGS Eagle Cap and Steamboat Lake, Oregon, cover the trail from Minam Lake to Elk Creek; Imus Geographics Wallowa Mountain Eagle Cap Wilderness.

Connections: We used the Minam River Trail to connect the West Fork Lostine Trail to that up Elk Creek. I’ve also seen the trail that connects the Minam to the pass above the Elkhorn Basin and the High Lakes (trail #1676). The Imus map shows that it also could connect to a wide variety of other hikes in the more western part of the Eagle Cap Wilderness where I haven’t hiked.