The Eagle Cap Wilderness lies tucked in the Wallowa Mountains in northeastern Oregon, serving as a haven for high alpine lakes and meadows. The area was first protected in 1930 when it was designated as a primitive area. Ten years later, Eagle Cap became labeled as wilderness and eventually it gained protection under the Wilderness Act of 1964. The area is snow packed in the winter and is thus most easily accessed in summer and fall.
Aneroid Lake sits just a 6-mile hike above Wallowa Lake along the easy-to-follow East Fork Wallowa River Trail. The Wallowa Falls Hydroelectric Project, which was originally constructed in 1921, lies a couple of miles up the trail. The 1.1-megawatt generator, now owned by PacifiCorps, supplies power to the local electric grid.
As the trail continues up, views of the snow-peaked Wallowa Mountains start to emerge over the valley. By late June, many wildflowers start to bloom along the trail, including monkey flowers, gentian, or elephant's head. The last section of trail opens up to a valley, and if you watch carefully you might spot white-tailed deer, mule deer, Rocky Mountain elk, or the occasional black bear.
After 6 miles and just under 3,000 feet of elevation gain, the beautiful Aneroid Lake comes into view. The area surrounding the lake serves as land for some private cabins that are not to be disturbed. A three-walled shelter with a wood-burning stove is there for public use on cold nights, however. The lake can be reached as a 12-mile out-and-back trip or as an overnight trip. There are designated backpacker campgrounds, and a dock stretches into the lake where you can enjoy stunning reflections of the surrounding mountains.