China Ridge Trail #1906 - Wallowa Mountains, Union, Oregon

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6.22 miles (10.01 km)

Total Elev. Gain:
1,516 ft. (462 m)
Total Elev. Loss:
-1,617 ft. (-493 m)

Max Altitude:
7,999 ft. (2438 m)
Min Altitude:
7,402 ft. (2256 m)
by Brian Sather — Updated 4 months 1 week ago · Posted Fri, Sep 22, 2017
China Ridge is a beautiful ridgetop trail with a nice view in all directions on the western side of the Wallowas. Burger and China Cap are the first peaks you get a nice look at, including the north wall of China Cap which is view-able on a good stretch of the trail after China Cap Pass. The trail serves as an excellent connector for a loop with Squaw Creek Trail and Elk Creek Trail or a more ambitious loop to North Fork Catherine Creek Trail. The trail starts off the Elk Creek Trail at a confusing intersection with no signage. The trail surface is in good shape given the limited traffic beyond China Cap Pass. Some use this trail to climb the peak and depart from the trail somewhere around or before the pass. It swaps from the east to the west side of the ridge in a well-formed path that is very pleasant, with a mix of some rocky sections but mostly good footing. It doesn't mess about much, so you get maximum ground movement as you travel along saddles and ridge all the way over to Meadow Mountain, with a quick section alongside High Hat Butte. Trail Notes
  • 0.0 mi. Start of trail from the Elk Creek Trail, 3.6 miles from Buck Creek Trailhead.
  • 0.6 China Cap Pass
  • 2.9 A side trail heads down toward China Cap Creek. I'm not sure how far this goes.
  • 3.9 Intersection with Squaw Creek Trail
  • 6.2 End of trail at intersection with North Fork Catherine Creek Trail.

 Unknown side trail starts — 45.182730, -117.545420

Sun rising over China Cap (left) and Burger Butte (right).
Intersection that starts the trail. In this picture, Elk Creek Trail is on the left coming up from Buck Creek and China Ridge starts to the right of the cairn.
Trail heading up to China Cap Pass with Burger Butte in the background.
China Cap Pass
Looking north at the Wallowas.

Some short sections of trail are rocky and sharp.
High Hat Butte (left) seen from the trail, with a primitive side trail visible across the slope below.
Meadow Mountain and the saddle where the trail finishes.
A view across the valley at the Elkhorn Mountains.