Dug Bar

Hells Canyon near Dug Bar

  • Easy (to Dug Bar viewpoint)
  • 1.2 miles round trip
  • 480 feet elevation gain
  • Open all year
  • Use: hikers, horses

  • Difficult (to Deep Creek)
  • 8.6 miles round trip
  • 1700 feet elevation gain

When the U.S. Army forced Chief Joseph to leave Oregon in 1877 he led his Nez Perce band through Hells Canyon on a difficult trail that crossed the raging Snake River at Dug Bar. Today that remote crossing site is still a trailhead for paths through colossal canyon scenery. It’s also the only place where vehicles can drive to the Oregon shore of the Snake River in the heart of Hells Canyon—but the access road is so long and rough that you’re apt to be reminded of Chief Joseph’s travails. Passenger cars are not recommended …

The alder grove at Deep Creek’s crossing makes a good turnaround point—and has a grim story to tell. In 1886, the 32 Chinese men who had set up a small gold mining operation here were murdered for their gold by seven Idaho cowboys. The shooting was discovered after the cowboys threw the corpses in the river and they washed ashore near Lewiston. The killers buried the gold on the spot. Did they return to get it? Mystery remains, even after a prospector discovered a Chinese vial with $700 of gold dust here in 1902.

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Backpackers or equestrians who …

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