Wallowa County Highpoint Trip Report

Sacajawea Peak (9,838 ft)

Date: August 20, 2004
Authors: Peter and Mary Green

We decided to climb the peak from the Hurricane Creek trailhead rather than from Ice Lake because of the shorter distance. We were very glad we did, not so much because of the shorter hike but because we got to experience the charming and remote Thorp Creek basin. It is worth a trip on its own.

We followed the instructions of previous trip reports and hiked the trail from the parking lot for about a mile and a half. The beginning of the Thorp Creek trail is indeed obscure: watch for a path through the grass that angles off to the left at maybe 30 degrees from the main trail. It is not in an open meadow but is in a fairly open forest.

Very recent flooding has wiped out the trail where it crosses Hurricane Creek and careful searching among the newly deposited sand on the far side of the creek is required to find where the trail reenters the woods. Flagging would be helpful. Once on the trail it is easy to follow until it crosses Twin Creeks. Here the trail is buried under the debris of a huge mud slide. We lost the trail after crossing the jack-strawed logs and had to bushwhack for an hour up the hill before intersecting it again. On the way down it was easier to follow.

Once past this stretch the trail takes you up steeply to the ridge and then drops you into the Thorp Creek basin. The trail disappears but the going is easy. Be sure to mark where you came out of the woods, though. On the way back you'll need to find that exact point.

We climbed up the southeast ridge on gravel and slabs. It was exhilarating but not technical. It took a little less than five hours to reach the summit from the car. Beautiful views and a very worthwhile climb.

Webmaster's comment: The Ice Lake route is well-marked (up to Ice Lake), beautiful, and without the slightest chance of getting lost. It is, however, six miles longer round-trip; has a thousand feet more total elevation gain (4,800 versus 5,800 feet); and finishes with class 2-3 rock scrambling along the Matterhorn-Sacajawea ridge.