Wildcat Basin

  • Moderate
  • 6.9-mile loop
  • 1330 feet elevation gain
  • Open late July through October
  • Use: hikers, horses

Trailside wildflower gardens and pinnacled ash badlands highlight the trail to Wildcat Basin. Lava flows built this part of the Strawberry Range 15 million years ago. Erosion has since cut through the lava layers, exposing the soft volcanic ash sandwiched between them. Seeps emerge between the old rock layers too, watering the wildflowers. About half of the hike’s route burned in a 1996 forest fire, opening new views and letting in more light for the flowers.

From John Day, take Highway …

At 7870 feet elevation, this trailhead is higher than many Oregon mountaintops, so it’s not surprising that the whitebark pines and noble firs here have been dwarfed by storms. The trail itself is actually an old roadbed, now strewn with white phlox, purple aster, and yellow composites. After a mile, …

Other Options

The easiest route to …

This chapter taken from the book 100 Hikes/Travel Guide: Eastern Oregon.