3 Miles Round Trip – Marina to Joseph Meadow and Back
Strenuous, Elevation Gain 2000+ Feet
Starts behind the fish cleaning station at the Wallowa Lake Marina Parking Lot
This hike starts on a trail 200 feet to the left of the fish cleaning station at the Wallowa Lake State Park. Start walking south on a well used foot trail ends at the Wallowa Lake Start Park outdoor theatre. Unless you want to listen to a story about Smokey the Bear you will want to leave this trail after 200 yards and start going up the Joseph Mountain Trail. It can be difficult to find the fork to the right. Three things to look for in finding this trail: 1) it forks off the main trail just before a small stream, 2) you know you are on the correct trail since you will find an old wooden water pipe (3 inch) running up it, 3) this trail goes up through tall grass and brush for the first 100 yards. This is a steep trail... if you are not going up you are not on the correct trail.
The Joseph Trail is divided into 3 stages (Stage 1 is ½ mile, Stage 2 is ¾ of a mile, Stage 3 is ¼ of a mile). The first stage is steep as it works its way up through the brush and thick trees before traversing an open hillside with large ponderosa pines. It finally crosses the Old Chief Joseph Trail. After this stage you can head left (or south) on the Old Joseph Trail reaching BC Falls in 1 ½ miles. This section of trail is not maintained.
We will instead cross the Old Chief Joseph Trail and continue to climb the Joseph Mountain Trail. This trail just goes UP and UP. We are now on stage 2 and it is steeper and longer than stage 1. The trail goes in and out of the trees before reaching open areas that provide views to the south. At the top of stage 2 there will be nice views of the Joseph ridge and nice views of Mount Howard, East Peak and Aneroid Mountain. Finally, at the end of Stage 2 you will cross the Old Joseph Trail. You are now at a base of a clearing where you will continue to climb with the face of Joseph Mountain to the left.
Stage 3 switchbacks up a mountain meadow and ends in a small forest with plenty of places to get out of the weather while resting and enjoying the views. This is generally where most people turnaround. Other options include climbing another 600 feet to the top of the meadow, climbing to the top of a knoll reaching 7600 feet or climbing Joseph Mountain. The picture to the left illistrates the route to the top of the knoll or "baby joseph".
If you take this trail in the winter with snow shoes, it is difficult. It can also be very icy so crampons can be helpful. There is no water available on this trail so bring all you need. The picture below is Scott Sargent with his puppies at the top of the trail and the turn around point.