Thousands of visitors travel by the impressive moraines of Wallowa Lake each year on their way into the Eagle Cap Wilderness. Wallowa Lake's basin was formed by multiple Pleistocene glaciers, and the moraines that now dam the lake were formed by remnants of sediment and the constant digging of those glaciers. The east moraine rises over 850 feet above the lake and is the oldest of the three moraines, having large granite boulder deposits (glacial erratics) that have been resting in their position for over 17,000 years.
The east moraine towers over the lake and its ridge, and it provides an expansive vantage of the surrounding peaks and Wallowa Mountains. Much of the East Moraine is privately owned, yet is regulated by scenic zoning and state land-use laws. While the moraine is used for both grazing and timber, public access is allowed for use by hikers. For many years efforts have been underway to protect East Moraine, and according to the Wallowa Land Trust, a recent project to protect the area ranked in the top 10 to receive federal funding from the national Forest Legacy grant program.
A discrete and steep trail can be accessed after just a short drive from Joseph on Wallowa Lake Hwy 351 along the east shoreline of Wallowa Lake. The trail climbs for nearly a quarter-mile before hitting the moraine ridge. At the ridge, one can follow a defined game trail and fence line south in a gradual incline for nearly 2 miles until reaching a tall United States Department of Agriculture fence. The moraine has an abundance of deer and other wildlife including coyotes, fox and elk. Along the route one can take in sweeping views of the Wallowa Mountains and Wallowa Lake, Seven Devils Mountains, and Hells Canyon National Recreation Area.