It’s not easy to get to the higher elevations of Oregon’s Wallowa Mountains. Our choices were long hikes with 2,000-3,000’ of elevation gain, or spending $31/person to ride the tram up to the top of 8,000’ Mt. Howard to access the trails without the physical effort.
Then while doing some research I came across the Tenderfoot trail, a 24 mile drive from Joseph that starts at 6,500’. In just under 4 miles and 1,300’ of climbing we could be at subalpine Bonny Lakes in the Eagle Cap Wilderness on a lightly used trail. Sounded perfect. The last 3.5 miles of the drive on a one lane rocky dirt road overgrown with vegetation definitely made us feel like we were in the wilderness, and we didn’t see another vehicle. So we were quite surprised to see at least 10 cars in the parking lot when we arrived, but being Saturday I didn’t think we’d be alone.
We had to make numerous crossings of Big Sheep Creek, some easier than others. Jim ended up with wet feet a couple times.
There had been a fire in this area many years ago, judging from the size of the new trees, which gave us nice open views of the scenery.
The trail climbs gradually most of the way, but there are a few really steep parts. Jim was having an exceptionally good day on the trail while I huffed an puffed trying to keep up. I blamed it on the altitude since we haven’t hiked at over 7,000’ in a while.
At 3.8 miles we came to Lower Bonny Lake at 7,800’. We tried to find the upper lake, but there was no obvious trail and the mosquitoes, which hadn’t bothered us at all on the trail, began swarming us so we decided to head back. The trail continues for miles to more lakes and even better scenery, according to a couple hikers we met.
We were happy with our last hike in the Wallowa Mountains.
Joseph is now in our rearview mirror, but I had some other shots I didn’t post previously. We really enjoyed our stay there and would definitely return. And Five Peaks RV Park was a great place to stay, an easy walk to everything in town.
Forgot to mention that Enterprise, another small Oregon town, is just 6 miles up the road from Joseph, where they have an excellent brewery, Terminal Gravity. We spent a couple evenings on their pleasant lawn enjoying some really good beers and bought some to go.
We also listened to some music at the Courthouse one Thursday evening. We were amazed at how few people were there, as most times these outdoor concerts are packed.
The rest of these photos were taken on Main Street downtown Joseph, Oregon. Although a tourist town, it is also a large artist community, and just a pleasant little place.
Bronze sculptures are scattered along Main St.
There is a bronze foundry that gives tours and was highly recommended, but we didn’t get around to going there. Have to save something for next time…