Wenaha River

  • Region: Eastern Oregon
  • Length: 31 miles
  • Min Elev: 3600 ft
  • Max Elev: 5500 ft
  • Season: Spring/Summer/Fall

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From Enterprise, drive North on Highway 3 for approximately 33 miles until reaching a sign pointing towards Flora and Troy. Follow this road as it winds into the Grande Ronde Valley and crosses the river. At the intersection, turn left and follow this to the town of Troy, turning right (north) at a road signed for Pomeroy. Follow this gravel road to it's first switchback and the trailhead. Troy can also be easily reached from Lewiston or Clarkston by turning right on Grande Ronde Rd at the bottom of the Grande Ronde Valley (If your returning via this road, be sure to get a milkshake at the little cafe across the river from this intersection).

Trail Description

The Wenaha River of Northeast Oregon makes the perfect early season hike, as well as providing solitude and some great scenery. We hiked this trail in late May, and the wildflowers were still very spectacular. Visitors a few weeks prior to our visit probably had an even more amazing wildflower display.

From the trailhead, follow the trail high above the Wenaha River a short distance before it totally leaves behind the city of Troy and drops down to river level. Lilac groves (probably from old homesteads) and other lush greenery welcome the hiker on the early portions of the trail. The trail slowly starts climbing the side of the ridge, crosses a primitive road, and finally rounds a corner providing a new set of views for the next mile or so. The trail here places hikers out into the open, barren and rocky slopes high above the river, which can get quite hot, even early in the season.

After 2.5 miles, the river makes a turn in a more northerly direction while the trail switchbacks back down to the canyon bottom. More areas of lush (and sometimes overly brushy) areas provide good stopping points along the river for exploration, rest or lunch.

The trail continues to become greener and less arid as the trial climbs into the wilderness area at the six-mile mark. Good campsites can be found at numerous places along the valley-bottom and with the lighter traffic on this trail good camps should not be too difficult to find. Shortly after crossing into the wilderness area, the trail turns up Crooked Creek before coming to a junction. If you are continuing up the Wenaha River, take the trail to the left, which soon crosses the creek on a good bridge and continues its way up the Wenaha Canyon.

Our trip continued up the Valley for approximately two more miles. We found a nice campsite near the intersection with the Hoodoo Trail, which crosses the Wenaha without the aid of a bridge (This crossing looked rather dangerous during our late May trip).

The trail continues up the valley with much of the same rugged scenery, and the continued trend towards greener and more densely wooded areas. The Valley is also packed with wildlife. Keep an eye out for bighorn sheep that run around on the surrounding canyon walls, as well as deer, a great variety of birds, and quite a few snakes (we saw one rattlesnake on the way up the Ridge Trail, but probably 15 or so other snakes which are non-venomous!)

I have always felt that canyons are much more spectacular from above, so instead of continuing up the canyon, we took the Ridge Trail to get an aerial view. This trail forks from the main trail approximately one mile past the Hoodoo Lookout Trail at the beginning of Fairview Bar. The sign is easily missed, as well as the trail, so keep your eyes out.

This trail proved to be pretty rough, and will be downright torture during the hot midsummer months. Rattlesnakes are also common on the hillside and the trail is composed of loose rocks that are extremely easy to lose your balance on. Nevertheless, the view from the top is spectacular and as the trail continues on top of the ridge a great Ponderosa Pine forest provides some welcomed shade.

Hikers wanting a longer trip can easily spend several days exploring the Canyon. Later in the summer, when the upper portions of the trail (5,000') are free of snow, a one-way trip can be arranged by dropping a vehicle off at one of the upper trailheads and walking downhill towards troy.


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I'm going to hit this trail sometime this month. I may be doing a stream crossing further up crooked creek. I was wondering what the spring flow is like on this stream.

I recommend this hike as well. Being in a remote part of Oregon, its a great place to get away from other people and just enjoy nature.


Scenery: 4

Difficulty: 2

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