Little Bear Creek Trail - Wallowa Mountains, Wallowa, Oregon


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Distance:
2.89 miles (4.65 km)
Season:
July-October

Total Elev. Gain:
2,183 ft. (665 m)
Total Elev. Loss:
-201 ft. (-61 m)

Max Altitude:
7,779 ft. (2371 m)
Min Altitude:
5,794 ft. (1766 m)
by Brian Sather — Posted Mon, Jul 17, 2017
This well-used trail does not exist on maps, getting action mainly from hunters and packing outfitters in the fall to access Storm Lake and Goat Mountain area where trophy game abounds. I remember accidentally taking the start of it a few years ago when trying to go up Huckleberry Mt. so that shows it is a little more of a beaten path compared to the official trail. It is direct and less steep route to get to get farther down Huckleberry Mountain Ridge. It is one of the root-iest trails I've been on in the Wallowas, but more maintained than most. On the way up, you stay tucked in the trees and have a few crossings of the creek. You're never far from it either so it provides better water along the trail then the Huckleberry Mountain route. Higher up it gets steeper. A few sections have some deep ruts but overall it is a nice trip along Little Bear Creek to connect with the Storm Lake Trail on top where the views are magnificent. When you reach the top, I remember passing a trail to the right that appears to be a shortcut if you are wanting to travel west to the Huckleberry Mountain Trail. I haven't confirmed that though. Otherwise, it meanders out of the trees and stays on the ridge heading toward Storm Lake. There are no trail markers for this trail, and it starts a short distance up the Huckleberry Mountain Trail. Likewise, where you meet the Storm Lake Trail there are no markers, but the trail is so well established that there aren't any problems following it from start to finish. At one point it must have been official because there is a wilderness sign on it high up on the trail. This trail provides a great opportunity for a loop with the Huckleberry Mountain Trail that surely will provide a physical challenge with rewarding views and few, if any, people. When you're done with this hike or run, you are required to get some ice cream at the Little Bear Drive-in. The day I did this trail in mid-July, I had flies swarming me the entire way. The trailhead had bald-faced hornets too. Between the bees, horseflies, and other insects I had to keep moving all the time. I wasn't experiencing the same at other locations in the Wallowas during this timeframe so I'm not sure if this was a local anomaly or something consistent on that trail. I've been on Huckleberry Mountain in mid-summer before and don't recall it being that bad. ...Also, I don't know what this trail's local name is, but I've seen the old trailhead referred to as the Little Bear Trailhead so I went with that. Since it follows the creek the whole way, that seems to be the logical name. If the flies are always on that trail, I may have to call it something else.

Waypoints:
 West trail split? — 45.405332, -117.472306

One of the crossings of Little Bear Creek up higher.
Trailhead at the bottom.
Wide and thrashed trail at the beginning, when you are on the Huckleberry Mountain Trail.

Junction where the Little Bear Trail starts to the left.
Trail junction seen after passing it.


One of the more formidable crossings early season, but nothing too difficult.




Some deep washed out sections.
Roots



Little Bear Creek up higher.
The only signage on the trail.
Starting to top out.
View of Huckleberry Mountain.



Nearing the top of the ridge.
Wallowa Valley and Enterprise, with Sheep Ridge in the foreground.
Looking south at McCubbin Basin, at the end of the trail where it connects with Storm Lake Trail.
Looking back after the intersection with the Storm Lake Trail, which is barely visible coming up from the left.