The vast and wild Eagle Cap Wilderness offers up an abundance of trails. They crisscross remote, snow-topped mountains, and dip through lush valleys. Many hikes in this area are multi-day adventures requiring serious planning, experience and confidence. However, the Lostine River Trail offers something different to travelers.
Seemingly created for less-confident backpackers, this moderately short trail to the stunning Mirror Lake via the Two Pan trailhead is a compromise. It’s remote, includes snippets of the region’s stunning scenery, and is a simply navigated there-and-back trail. It's a great way to get dust (or snow) on those boots without stress.
Use the Two-Pan trailhead as the starting point for this hike. It’s a bit of a hub for trail access, with a large parking lot. Take the East Lostine River Trail to the south. This path will lead along the river, over a footbridge and through an old-growth forest. A couple miles in the trail rises out of the tree line, ascending up steep switchbacks. The valley will unfold below, displaying the wonders of the rugged, granite Wallowa Mountains all around. Far below are meadows, sheltered by these quiet giants of rock and trees.
The main trail crosses old rock slides that require a little scrambling, and dips back and forth through tree groves. There’s the option to take side trails that pass through mountain meadows. Keep following the trail up through a small old growth forest, then up a ridge. Here you’ll reach Mirror Lake, a stunning stretch of water that often reflects the image of the 9,572-foot Eagle Cap Peak. Take a walk around the picturesque shoreline, and take a dip if the weather is temperate.
From the lake, you can continue on, taking more challenging trails. There’s a climb up Eagle Cap, or several lower lakes to explore. Yet beginners have the option of turning around and following the trail back to the parking lot, if a multi-day hike is not on their checklist.
The Two Pan trailhead is located at the end of Lostine Canyon Road. In the summer seasons, the trailhead may be more congested, but mid-week and off-season the trails are less frequented. A Northwest Forest Pass is required to park here. The pass costs $5 per day or $30 per season.
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