Getting Here on Foot

Two arriving hikers rest their feet on the cabin patio.

The Minam Lodge is accessible via an 8.5-mile hike from the Moss Springs Trailhead.

The hike to the Lodge includes both uphill and downhill portions, with a net elevation loss of about 2,000 feet. Hikers in good physical condition can expect to make the trip in less than four hours. If you have any doubts about your ability to complete the hike to and from the Lodge comfortably, please consider getting here by plane.

In early June the Moss Springs Campground can be covered in snow. Guests in early June should monitor daily updates from NOAA’s Moss Springs snow station or email us for current conditions.

The hike begins at the Moss Springs Campground. To reach Moss Springs from La Grande, take exit 261 from I-84. Proceed on Highway 237 14 miles to the town of Cove. Bear right on Main Street, then take an immediate left onto French Street and in quick succession bear left on Hill Street and right on Second Street, which becomes Mill Creek Lane and eventually Forest Road 6220. Moss Springs Campground is nine miles from Cove, the last eight miles of which are mostly uphill on a gravel washboard road that dead-ends at the trailhead.

The Moss Springs trailhead is a popular starting point for hikers and horseback riders, and a main access point to the Eagle Cap Wilderness. Please park in the far northeast corner lot as close together as possible. If the northeast lot is full, guests can use the large parking lot intended for horse trailers. Please park bumper to bumper with each row having two cars.

A Northwest Forest Pass is required to park at the campground, or self-serve day passes may be purchased on-site. Bring a pen and a check or exact change; fees are $5 per night. Visitors must also fill out a Wilderness Visitors Permit (no fee) using the permit box at the trailhead. There are outhouses at Moss Springs, but no running water or cell service.

Horse etiquette while hiking on the Moss Springs trail is important for both your safety and the safety of animals. Hikers should give way to horseback riders. Always keep talking normally so the animals know your location and never “hide.” When possible, move off of the trail on the downhill side of the trail about 15 feet from the trail. Keep all hikers in a close group with dogs under control and next to their owners. Following these simple guidelines will help ensure a safe and positive trail experience for all.

We recommend printing these directions out and bringing them with you; there is no cellular service available on the trail.

Hiking directions

  1. Horse Ranch Trail 1908 begins at the far side of the parking area. Make sure you are on the correct trail from the campground.

  2. Shortly after entering the woods, bear left to stay on the Horse Ranch Trail toward Red’s Horse Ranch.

  3. The trail heads downhill through hillside meadows with vistas.

  4. After a mile it descends into fir and larch woods and crosses a creek on a wooden bridge.

  5. At 2.2 miles, the trail passes a primitive campsite by the Little Minam River.

  6. At 4.2 miles, it passes a second camping area and crosses a large wooden bridge.

  7. At the fork with the Jim White Trail on the far side of the bridge, continue left on the Horse Ranch Trail.

  8. The trail then leaves the river and heads gently uphill, eventually reaching a large twisted pine snag at 6.25 miles.

  9. At 6.4 miles, bear right toward the Minam River (a smaller trail leads left back to the Little Minam), and follow along the ridge, enjoying views across the valleys on either side.

  10. A steep descent begins, with glimpses of Red’s below.

  11. When you reach the valley floor at 7.4 miles, turn left at the gate to Red’s and proceed 0.6 miles to the Minam Lodge.

Download map (PDF, 364KB)

Top photograph by Leon Werdinger