Dobbin Creek Trail

Hike Rating: Easy
Hike Length: 7.0 miles roundtrip
Elevation Change: 280’
Trailhead Elevation: 5,540’
Best Season: June through September,
        once access road is snow-free
Driving Access: Any vehicle

Plus Points
• A charming creek hike on a less-visited tributary of the Little Minam River
• The trail is entirely within the Eagle Cap Wilderness Area and is cow-free
• Wet meadows, pristine mixed forests, plus scenic rocky cliffs add to its appeal
• Mule deer, elk and grouse sightings are a possibility, if one walks quietly
• No major stream crossings, so this trail is safe during the heavy Spring runoff
• A good place to find a bit of solitude in an otherwise heavily used hiking area

Minus Points
• The first 2 miles of trail to reach Dobbin Creek are a rutted "horse highway"
• One can expect to encounter other hikers or equestrians in these first 2 miles

Download (PDF, 803 KB): Photos of Dobbin Creek Trail
Download (PDF, 826 KB): Topo Map for Dobbin Creek Trail
Download (PDF, 665 KB): Road Map for Dobbin Creek Trail

Trail Notes
Map of the Dobbin Creek Trail
The hike begins at the far east end of the Moss Springs Campground, near a prominent trailhead bulletin board. The trail follows an old road east for about 150 yards to a "Y", where one takes the right fork, following signs for "Upper Little Minam River, Trail #1942." From here, the wide trail descends southeast into the Little Minam River canyon through a mixed forest of douglas fir and western larch.

At 0.7 miles, the trail descends a few short switchbacks through open hillside meadows, where one has long views up the river valley and the Dobbin Creek canyon joining from the south. At 1.1 miles, the trail switchbacks again down into Fireline Creek, which is an easy crossing on stones in the stream. For the next mile, the trail traverses a long flat bench above the river, through thick stands of lodgepole pine. The river can be heard, but rarely glimpsed in its channel down below the trail.

At 2.0 miles, one comes to a second trail junction, where the Dobbin Creek Trail branches right (aka the Art Garrett Trail, #1913). Before starting south up Dobbin Creek, it's worthwhile to visit the Dobbin Creek crossing for a quick cool-off, just 80 yards ahead on the Little Minam River Trail. Returning to the trail junction, Trail #1913 starts south up a hill, through lodgepole pines, before coming alongside the stream.

For the next 1.2 miles, the trail is along the west side of the stream and is within sight or sound of the water for its entire length. At times, the trail climbs gradually up the hillside away from the stream, but soon rejoins it. At intervals, one passes long wet meadows along the creek, which can be good spots for side trips and explorations. At 3.5 miles, just past a picturesque rock cliff to the east, the trail comes to a wide creek crossing. This can make a good hike and lunch destination at streamside. Return as you came.

Road to Trailhead
From Hwy 237 in Cove, OR, turn south on French Street (opposite the High School) at the sign for Moss Springs Campground. Follow this paved road (as it becomes gravel Mill Creek Lane, then Road 6220 at the Forest boundary) for 8.7 miles to the Moss Springs Trailhead. The trailhead is at the far east end of the loop road around the campground. This access road is a good gravel surface that is suitable for any passenger car or camping trailer. A Northwest Forest Pass and self-issued Wilderness Permit are required.

Camping Options
The closest camping area is the Moss Springs Campground, right at the trailhead. It has 10 sites, some suitable for camping trailers and others for tents. Each site has a picnic table and a fire ring, plus there are several vault toilets, but no drinking water. The fee was $5.00 per night in 2014. Stock facilities are nearby, including corrals, feed bunks and loading ramps. Though it's located on a high-elevation rim, this campground gets a lot of summer use, especially on weekends, due to its good access road and its proximity to La Grande.

Another developed campground in the area is Catherine Creek State Park, about 25 driving miles from the trailhead. Located on a narrow strip between State Hwy 203 and Catherine Creek, this pleasant campground has 20 sites that are suitable for anything from large travel trailers to tents. Spread out across a grassy flat, under big trees, it has picnic tables, grills, flush toilets and drinking water. The camping fee was $10.00 per night in 2014. This campground can also be busy during in the summer months, especially on weekends.

Agency Contact: Wallowa-Whitman Natl. Forest, La Grande District, (541) 963-7186

DISCLAIMER: Every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of this information, but the authors do not guarantee that it is either current or correct. The reader assumes full responsibility for any use of this information, and is encouraged to contact local public land agencies to inquire about current conditions before traveling.

Page last updated: 12/10/14