Northeast Oregon Hikes

Northeast Oregon Regional Map
Northeast Oregon offers some of the most diverse landscapes for day hiking in the entire Northwest. These range from the high-elevation, glaciated alpine valleys of the Wallowa and Elkhorn Mountains to the lower-elevation, dry and treeless canyons of the Snake and Grande Ronde Rivers. In between are the forested lands of the Blue Mountains, which are a mosaic of both moist and dry exposures. In all, there are nearly 8,000 square miles of federal land in Northeast Oregon, divided among the Malhuer, Umatilla and Wallowa-Whitman National Forests, plus the Hells Canyon National Recreation Area.

Unfortunately for hikers, the majority of this public land is "well used" and even abused, making it unsuitable for the quiet enjoyment of day hikes amidst natural surroundings. Subtracting out the areas that have been logged, those that are intensively grazed, the historical mining districts, the areas devoted to off-highway vehicles and the areas that have burned, hikers seeking solitude and unspoiled landscapes are left mostly with the five designated Wilderness Areas, covering some 1,400 square miles (about 20% of the national forest land), plus a few roadless areas.

Download (PDF, 319 KB): Northeast Oregon Regional Map

The good news is that these five designated Wilderness Areas are among the largest in Oregon. They include the Eagle Cap Wilderness in the Wallowa Mountains (564 square miles), the Hells Canyon Wilderness on the Snake River (336 square miles), the Wenaha-Tucannon Wilderness (277 square miles) and North Fork Umatilla Wilderness (32 square miles) in the Northern Blue Mountains, and the North Fork John Day Wilderness in the Southern Blue Mountains (190 square miles).

But the peaceful enjoyment of remote day hikes is not always assured even in the remaining wilderness and roadless areas. Cattle grazing is still prevalent in some of the wilderness areas of Northeast Oregon and motorcycles (dirt bikes) are allowed in many of the roadless areas — so day hiking destinations still need to be chosen with care.

Hikes in the Southern Blue Mountains

Hikes in the Northern Blue Mountains

> Hikes in the Hells Canyon Area

> Hikes in the Wallowa Mountains

NOTE: Since the Northern Blue Mountains extend only about 30 miles into Southeast Washington, for the sake of simplicity we have included our few Washington Northern Blues hikes here, within the Northeast Oregon geographic region, rather than creating a separate Southeast Washington web page for them.

To locate hikes in Northeast Oregon, click on your area of interest:

Page last updated: 11/15/13