Buckhorn Lookout

Hells Canyon from below Buckhorn Lookout

  • Moderate (to Eureka Viewpoint)
  • 7.2 miles round trip
  • 1780 feet elevation loss
  • Open June to mid-November
  • Use: hikers, horses, bicycles

  • Very Difficult (to Eureka Bar)
  • 15.4 miles round trip
  • 4150 feet elevation loss

The panorama is breathtaking from the historic Buckhorn fire lookout, perched on the lip of Hells Canyon’s colossal chasm. But the view actually improves the farther you hike from the lookout, following a well-graded trail down across slopes of wildflowers. The danger here is that you’ll be tempted to romp too far down this trail into Hells Canyon. Remember that you will have to regain every step of lost elevation (perhaps thousands of feet!) later in the hot afternoon sun.

Start by driving …

The vast canyons of the Imnaha River and its tributaries steal the show at Buckhorn Lookout because the Snake River itself is hidden. Look for Idaho’s snow-capped Seven Devils above Hat Point’s plateau, and the long white horizon of the Wallowa Mountains above Zumwalt Prairie. With a view like this, the 14-foot-square lookout building never needed a tower, so it sits on the ground. Built in the 1930s, the building is no longer staffed.

The actual trailhead is …

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