From Joseph, follow the Wallowa Lake Highway to the south end of Wallowa lake, avoiding the right hand fork which goes to Wallowa Lake State Park. The trail head is at the end of the parking lot.
Ice Lake is another amazing place in the Wallowa Mountains. Imagine a deep blue lake, surrounded on all sides by jagged granite mountains…this is it.
Follow the trail from the end of the parking lot, veering right at the fork a very short distance up the trail. The trail then follows the West Fork Wallowa River up the Canyon at a very comfortable grade. At 2.8, the trail to Ice Lake forks off to the right and crosses the river over a nice bridge. Now is where the trail gets fun! In order to reach the Lake, the trail now must climb around 2,250 feet up the side of the ridge. Luckily they give you five miles to complete the task, but it still requires quite a bit of work. The trail up to Ice Lake is very nice and gives a lot of variety. There are nice meadows, forests, views and waterfalls all along the way, complete with a great lake at the end. Many nice campsites can be found around the lake, and there are many places to lay around and enjoy the scenery…my favorite pastime!
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Beautiful hike! My only warning would be that if you go later in the summer, when it's very dry, there is a section of the trail (from the river crossing up to the meadow before the final set of switchbacks) where there is no water available. My friend and I hiked this last weekend and completely ran out of water and got extremely dehydrated. It was still a gorgeous hike and the lake was fantastic.
This is a beautiful lake. I saw 5 mountain goats, grouse, deer, and trout. I found the hike in hard with a full pack. The map says 8.2 miles though my GPS said 9.2 when I got there. I wonder if they'd lengthened the switchbacks to get some of the steepenss out as I saw old switchbacks blocked off. It took me 5.5 hrs to hike in and 4 to hike out. The first 3 miles is pretty easy and then it's switchbacks basically the rest of the way. Gorgeous lake and nice scenery on the way up though not the sweeping vistas seen on trails like Goat Lake.
Just did got back from this one and enjoyed it. 3rd time up there. The length mentioned here is a bit off, it is closer to 8 miles than 6. Tons of mosquitoes and a very friendly deer which we had to keep chasing away to keep out of our food. Good weekend nontheless.
*Official Mileage for this trail has been updated.
Just found a website with some great panoramics. Here's one of Ice Lake:
Beautiful, pristine, exhilarating. So glad I took friends here for their first E. Oregon venture. If you are up for a good day hike/scramble, getting to the top of the Matterhorn is awesome, we were up close and personal with glacial melt and a mountain goat. Be careful of loose rock, esp. on the way down.
Our only trouble was hordes of mosquitoes. Be prepared with DEET. Citronella was a joke. And, please, pack out all your trash. The animals dig up anything you bury.
Don't miss out on this hike! It is absolutely beautiful. Bring your rock climbing shoes 'cause there is a ton of bouldering to do around the lake.
Great pics Kevin and Barbara! Makes me want to go!