Southern Highpoint of the Hurricane DivideThe Hurricane Divide is one of several long radial ridgelines branching out from Eagle Cap at the heart of the Eagle Cap Wilderness. The Hurricane Divide extends over ten miles from the Mirror Lake Basin north to Ruby Peak overlooking Enterprise. This ridgeline generally exceeds eight-thousand feet of elevation and in some places reaches heights well over nine-thousand feet. Four of Oregon's top 100 highest peaks are found along the Hurricane Divide, this page focuses on its southern highpoint, referred to as Steel Mountain according to the climbers register.
Hurricane Divide South is #23 on the Oregon Top 100 list, and has 886 feet of prominence. Higher points along the Hurricane Divide are Twin Peaks and North Hurricane Divide. Two major drainages are separated by the Hurricane Divide, the Lostine River and Hurricane Creek. Both streams can run high volume well into summer making crossings difficult.
mrh's Wallowa Mountains page is one of the finest area and range pages you will find on the website, HERE is a link to the geology section.
Getting ThereThe southern highpoint of the Hurricane Divide can be accessed easily from the Two Pan Trailhead on the Lostine River. Turn south onto Lostine River Road from the town of Lostine and follow the road to its end at the Two Pan Trailhead / Campground. Along the way expect the road to transition from pavement to gravel and pass a ranger station where the road quality deteriorates a little further to one lane dirt.
From the campground follow the Mirror Lake Trail to the north end of the glacially formed Lostine River Valley (2.5 miles to this point). Once you've reached the valley cross the river and work up the ridgeside bearing southeast towards an obvious plateau at 8000 feet. From here its 1300 feet of scrambling up the steep west face of the Hurricane Divide. There isnt much for animal trails along fractured upper ridges, stick to the west side when traversing north or south. Take care to descend the same way you came up, many of the seemingly easy descent paths end in cliffs.
Seen Below: Hurricane Divide with The Matterhorn at right
Roundtrip this hike runs about 8 miles with 3700 feet of elevation gain. Set aside a full day to complete the ascent, the final 1300 feet of elevation gain is on steep treacherous terrain.
Red Tape - CampingThere are a number of campgrounds along the Lostine River Road. All require a nightly fee, as does parking at the Two Pan Trailhead. There are a handful of turnouts along the road where you might find spot to camp that does not require a fee. Once the weather is nice you might be best off camping at the Two Pan Trailhead so you can lockdown a parking spot, the trailhead parking lot fills up fast.
Camping is allowed in the Wilderness, but is prohibited within 200 feet of streams. In the wilderness area be prepared for goat and sheep encounters, and frequent pack-horse run ins anywhere around the main trails.
When to Hike - WeatherJune through October is the best time to climb in the Wallowas. Access to the Two Pan Trailhead is not possible the rest of the year as the Lostine River Road will be buried in snow.
Forest Service site for the Eagle Cap Wilderness