Horseshoe and Glacier Lakes

Gentian Flower

  • Difficult (to Horseshoe Lake)
  • 18.4 miles round trip
  • 2500 feet elevation gain
  • Open mid-July through October
  • Use: hikers, horses

  • Difficult (to Glacier Lake)
  • 27.3-mile loop
  • 4000 feet elevation gain

In the high Wallowas’ wondrous Lake Basin, a dozen alpine lakes shimmer among wildflower meadows and polished granite outcrops, while ragged peaks rim the horizon. The price of admission here, however, is steep indeed: a dusty, 9-mile trudge up one of the most heavily used paths in the Eagle Cap Wilderness. As a result, only backpackers and equestrians can tour the miraculous high country between Horseshoe Lake and Glacier Lake.

The area’s popularity has led to some restrictions. Group size is limited to 12 on trails and six in camps in the Lake Basin. Tents must be kept at least 100 feet from lakeshores and grazing horses must be at least 200 feet from lakes. Campfires are banned within a quarter mile of lakes, so bring a stove to cook.

Start by driving …

… The meadows here blaze with giant blue gentian, delicate pink heather, and the aromatic, ball-shaped purple flowers of wild onion. ...

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