Oregon's Wallowa Mountains

Hiking the Lostine-Minam Loop, Part III
Possible Itinerary
Camp Miles Elev. Gain
Day 1 Mirror Lake 7.3 2,100
Day 2 Minam Lake (with side trip to Blue Lake) 5.4 1,500
Day 3 Swamp Lake 10.0 2,200
Day 4 John Henry Lake 11.1 2,000
Day 5 Brownie Basin (with side trip to Chimney, Hobo, and Wood Lakes) 9.7 2,600
Day 6 Out (with road walk to Two Pan Camp)

To continue your tour, top a low saddle near two small ponds and enjoy a nice view down to Steamboat Lake. The route makes a series of switchbacks down a mostly open slope to the south end of this lake where the best camps are along the east shore. A large rock island apparently looked like a steamboat to imaginative early travelers.

The trail veers away from Steamboat Lake over a low rise before descending through a meadow to an overlook of the North Minam River Canyon. For the next few miles the trail leads down into this canyon in a series of irregular switchbacks over semi-open terrain. Numerous side creeks provide ample water. Several good campsites highlight the last couple of miles of the descent as the trail follows an attractive stream to spacious North Minam Meadows. Tip: Although the trail skirts this large meadow, it is worthwhile to walk over for a visit.

Near the north end of the meadow you turn right at a junction with the Bowman Trail. Climb in a series of moderately steep switchbacks, enjoying several nice views down to North Minam Meadows along the way. You pass an unseen waterfall, then reach a junction with the Bear Creek Trail. Keep right and 1.2 miles later look for the unsigned and unmaintained path to John Henry Lake. The lake, 0.5 mile away, features nice camps.

The main trail climbs to Wilson Pass, where there is an excellent view to the east of Twin Peaks and the Hurricane Divide. Your route then switchbacks down to the trees above Brownie Basin, a long, scenic meadow with a lovely setting, which is well worth a visit. The trail goes north along the slope above the meadow to a junction. Here you have the option of either heading directly out to your car, or investing a bit more time and energy in the worthwhile side trip to Chimney and Hobo lakes.

To do the side trip, keep left at the junction, traverse a view-packed slope to Laverty Lake, then round a ridge to large and beautiful Chimney Lake. Granite peaks rise to the west and two small islands add to the scene. To reach the more alpine setting of Hobo Lake, climb above Chimney Lake to a saddle. From here turn left at a junction and climb over rocky meadows to the high basin holding Hobo Lake. Tip: Ambitious hikers can also make the cross-country scramble to the views from atop Lookout Mountain and take the trail down to the lovely meadow basin holding Wood Lake.

Back at Brownie Basin, the well-graded trail crosses Bowman Creek, then drops in long gentle switchbacks to the Lostine River Road. Near the bottom, a nice sloping waterfall on the creek adds scenic interest. From the Bowman trailhead it's an easy 3.8-mile walk up the road to Two Pan Camp and your car. (So easy, in fact, you may be able to talk your companion into doing the extra walk, while you volunteer for the"difficult" task of guarding the packs and daydreaming about this wonderful trip.)


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