“Wallowa Lake is a world-class example of a glacial lake dammed by moraines. The spectacular moraines around Wallowa Lake rise to 275 m (900 ft.) above the lake…” so says The Bathymetry and Sediments of Wallowa Lake, Northeast Oregon and just about every other source of information about this jewel of northeastern Oregon. Whatever its world-class geology and origin, I can vouch for its beauty!
The road from the north end of the lake (a mile south of the town of Joseph) to the south (the state park and USFS Wallowa Lake trailhead) hugs the east side of the lake, snug against the base of the east moraine (the little ribbon on the left of this photo). Each time we’ve driven this road, we’ve commented on the looming, wildflower-covered moraine – its got PRESENCE!
As I lollygagged through some of Joseph’s shops the other day, I discussed David Jensen’s aerial photograph of the lake (please click here to see it; quite spectacular) and its embracing moraines with the shop owner. She, a local, mentioned to me that you can hike the moraines. YOU CAN???
Wow! I asked for more specific details, and she gave me a dose of local knowledge… landmarks to look for, where to park. She hadn’t hiked it herself, but knew it could be done with maybe just a little bushwhacking.
Of course, we were game. When we awoke this morning to a cloudless sky and a forecast of 72 degrees, it seemed like the perfect day to explore the moraine for ourselves (once it warmed up a bit). After a late breakfast, off we went.
Though we always visit the USFS office when we enter a new area (and have used their handouts for a couple hikes since we have been here), it pays to ask a local!