West Fork Wallowa River to Ice Lake Turnoff
8 Miles Round Trip – West Fork Trailhead to Ice Lake Turnoff and Back
Average Difficulty - Long Day Hike
Starts at the End of Power House Road
The West Fork trail is a nice valley walk with views of Joseph, views of the Wallowa River and peaks around Ice Lake. The trip ends at a nice rock out cropping on the Ice Lake Trail.
During the first mile you will walk through the forest. At 1 mile you will come to a side trail on the right. This is the Joseph Mountain Trail and leads to BC Falls, which is a nice side trip for waterfall junkies.
After the Joseph Mountain Trail you will work your up through more trees. At 2 miles the trail provides views of Joseph Mountain and the river below. Amazingly fish live in the pools and waterfalls below you. They are small and generally very hungry. Look for the large rock slide on the left which you will walk by. Stand by the rock slide and feel the cool air that comes from under the rock slide in the summer.
At 3 miles the trail will open up and level out a bit. Almost every year this area receives an avalanche with the larger ones going across the Wallowa River. You can see the debris fields to the east of the trail. At 3.5 miles the trail arrives at the Ice Lake Turnoff. Take this turn off and go ½ mile down to the Wallowa River. This is a nice place for lunch. However, if you want to go just a little further.....
Travel ½ mile after crossing the Wallowa River and you will soon come to a large rock outcropping on the right of the trail. This is my favorite place for lunch since it is in sun and has nice views. If you have the energy, travel 3 miles up to Ice Lake.
If you have decided to travel up to Ice Lake get ready for switchback mania. The first set goes up to the right of Johnson Creek and ends in a hanging value with a nice waterfall view. You are at the 6 mile point and still have a long series of switchbacks to overcome. Look for Mountain goats to the right since they are common on the Hurwal Divide.
After the hanging valley you will notice that the trail works through a series of switchbacks. It is not too bad since there are nice views as you climb. When it seems the switchbacks will never end, the trail levels out and Ice Lake appears in front of you. Soak your feet in the Ice Lake Outlet or jump in before you head back.