Eagle Cap Wilderness

Eagle Cap Wilderness

Infobox_protected_area | name = Eagle Cap Wilderness
iucn_category = Ib

caption =
locator_x = 39
locator_y = 33
location = Oregon, USA
nearest_city = Enterprise, Oregon
lat_degrees = 45
lat_minutes = 14
lat_seconds = 32
lat_direction = N
long_degrees = 117
long_minutes = 26
long_seconds = 30
long_direction = W
area = convert|361446|acre|km2|0|sing=off
established = 1940
visitation_num =
visitation_year =
governing_body = U.S. Forest Service

Eagle Cap Wilderness is a wilderness area located in the Wallowa Mountains of northeastern Oregon (United States), within the Wallowa-Whitman National Forest. [http://www.fs.fed.us/r6/w-w/recreation/wilderness/ecwild.shtml Wallowa-Whitman National Forest] - Eagle Cap Wilderness] The Wilderness was established in 1940. In 1964, it was included in the National Wilderness Preservation System. A boundary revision in 1972 added convert|73000|acre|km2|0|sing=off and the Wilderness Act of 1984 added convert|66100|acre|km2|0|sing=off resulting in a current total of 361,446 acres (565 mi², 1464 km²), making Eagle Cap by far Oregon's largest wilderness area. [http://gorp.away.com/gorp/resource/us_wilderness_area/or_eagle.htm Eagle Cap Wilderness, Oregon] - GORP]

Eagle Cap Wilderness is named after a peak in the Wallowa Mountains, which were once called the Eagle Mountains. At convert|9595|ft|m|0|sing=off Eagle Cap was incorrectly thought to be the highest peak in the range, hence the name. [cite book
last = McArthur
first = Lewis A.
authorlink =
coauthors = Lewis L. McArthur
title = Oregon Geographic Names
origyear = 1928
edition = Seventh Edition
year = 2003
publisher = Oregon Historical Society Press
location = Portland, Oregon
id = ISBN 0-87595-277-1 (trade paperback), ISBN 0-87595-278-X (hardcover)


The Eagle Cap Wilderness is characterized by high alpine lakes and meadows, bare granite peaks and ridges, and U-shaped glacial valleys. Thick timber is found in the lower valleys and scattered alpine timber on the upper slopes. Elevations in the Wilderness range from approximately convert|5000|ft|m|0|sing=off in lower valleys to convert|9845|ft|m|0|sing=off at the summit of Matterhorn Peak near the center of the area. [http://www.wilderness.net/index.cfm?fuse=NWPS&sec=wildView&wname=Eagle%20Cap Eagle Cap Wilderness] - Wilderness.net] The Wilderness is home to Legore Lake, the highest lake above sea level in Oregon at convert|8800|ft|m|0|sing=off, as well as almost 60 alpine lakes, more than convert|37|mi|km|0|sing=off of streams, and thirty-one summits exceeding convert|8000|ft|m|0|sing=off.


The Eagle Cap Wilderness and surrounding country in the Wallowa-Whitman National Forest was first occupied by the ancestors of the Nez Perce Indian Tribe around 1400 A.D., and later by the Cayuse, the Shoshone, and Bannocks. The Wilderness was used as hunting grounds for bighorn sheep and deer and to gather huckleberries. It was the summer home to the Joseph Band of the Nez Perce tribe. 1860 marked the year the first settlers moved into the Wallowa Valley. In 1930, the Eagle Cap was established as a primitive area and in 1940 earned wilderness designation.


Eagle Cap Wilderness is home to a variety of wildlife, including black bears, cougars, Rocky Mountain bighorn sheep, and mountain goats. In the summer white-tailed deer, mule deer, and Rocky Mountain elk roam the Wilderness. Smaller mammals that inhabit the area year-round include the pika, pine martens, badgers, squirrels, and marmots. Birds include peregrine falcons, bald eagles, golden eagles, Ferruginous hawks, and gray-crowned rosy finch. Trout can be found in many of the lakes and streams in the Wilderness.


Plant communities in the Eagle Cap Wilderness range from low elevation grasslands and ponderosa pine forest to alpine meadows. Engelmann spruce, larch, mountain hemlock, sub-alpine fir, and whitebark pine can be found in the higher elevations. Varieties of Indian paintbrush, sego lilies, elephanthead, larkspur, shooting star, and bluebells are abundant in the meadows. The Wilderness does contain some small groves of old growth forest.

Wild and Scenic Rivers

Four designated Wild and Scenic rivers originate in Eagle Cap Wilderness - the Lostine, Eagle Creek, Minam, and Imnaha.

Lostine River

convert|16|mi|km|0|sing=off of the Lostine from its headwaters in the Wilderness to the Wallowa-Whitman National Forest boundary are designated Wild and Scenic. Established in 1988, convert|5|mi|km|0|sing=off of the river are designated "wild" and convert|11|mi|km|0|sing=off are designated "recreational." A small portion of the river is on private property. [ [http://www.rivers.gov/wsr-lostine.html National Wild and Scenic Rivers System] - Lostine River]

Eagle Creek

convert|27|mi|km|0|sing=off of Eagle Creek from its output at Eagle Lake in the Wilderness to the Wallowa-Whitman National Forest boundary at Skull Creek are designated Wild and Scenic. In 1988, convert|4|mi|km|0|sing=off of the river were designated "wild," convert|6|mi|km|0|sing=off are designated "scenic," and convert|17|mi|km|0|sing=off are designated "recreational." [ [http://www.rivers.gov/wsr-eagle.html National Wild and Scenic Rivers System] - Eagle Creek]


convert|39|mi|km|0|sing=off of the Minam River from its headwaters at the south end of Minam Lake to the Wilderness boundary, one-half mile downstream from Cougar Creek, are designated Wild and Scenic. In 1988, all 39 miles were designated "wild." [ [http://www.rivers.gov/wsr-minam.html National Wild and Scenic Rivers System] - Minam River]


convert|77|mi|km|0|sing=off of the Imnaha River from its headwaters are designated Wild and Scenic. The designation comprises the main stem from the confluence of the North and South Forks of the Imnaha River to its mouth, and the South Fork from its headwaters to the confluence with the main stem. In 1988, convert|15|mi|km|0|sing=off miles were designated "wild," convert|4|mi|km|0|sing=off were designated "scenic," and convert|58|mi|km|0|sing=off were designated "recreational," though only a portion of the Wild and Scenic Imnaha is located within Eagle Cap Wilderness. [ [http://www.rivers.gov/wsr-imnaha.html National Wild and Scenic Rivers System] - Imnaha River]


As Oregon's largest Wilderness area, Eagle Cap offers many recreational activities, including hiking, backpacking, horseback riding, hunting, fishing, camping, and wildlife watching. Winter brings backcountry skiing and snowshoeing opportunities. There are 47 trailheads and approximately convert|534|mi|km|0|sing=off of trails in Eagle Cap, accessible from Wallowa, Union, and Baker Counties, and leading to all areas of the Wilderness. [ [http://www.fs.fed.us/r6/w-w/recreation/trails-ec/majestic-eagle_cap_tr_105.shtml Wallowa-Whitman National Forest] - Majestic Eagle Cap Wilderness Recreation] [ [http://www.fs.fed.us/r6/w-w/recreation/recreation-ecw.shtml#trail Wallowa-Whitman National Forest] - List of trails in the Eagle Cap Ranger District]


See also

* List of Oregon Wildernesses
* List of U.S. Wilderness Areas
* List of old growth forests

External links

* [http://www.fs.fed.us/r6/w-w/recreation/wilderness/ecwild.shtml Eagle Cap Wilderness] - Wallowa-Whitman National Forest
* [http://www.wilderness.net/index.cfm?fuse=NWPS&sec=wildView&wname=Eagle%20Cap Eagle Cap Wilderness] - Wilderness.net
* [http://www.eaglecapwilderness.com/ EagleCapWilderness.com]
* [http://www.josephoregon.com/eagle_cap_wilderness.htm Eagle Cap Wilderness] - JosephOregon.com

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