This Wilderness is a maze of deep, sheer-walled canyons that cut into what was once a flat and expansive plateau at the northernmost reach of the Blue Mountains located in Northeast Oregon and Southeast Washington. The plateau has since eroded into long ridge tops and wide, forest-covered mesas that now stand as much as 2,000 feet above the drainages. Following ridges will often bring you to a bluff line that fall away vertically into a confluence of drainages. Much of the area's water runs south into Oregon's Wild and Scenic Wenaha River, although some of it slips north into Washington's Tucannon River. Ponderosa pine dominates the lower drainages, then defers to a forest of lodgepole pine above about 4,500 feet, with some larch, fir, and spruce. Subalpine fir reigns supreme at the highest elevations, with native grasses and forbs covering the ground. Elevation ranges from nearly 2,000 feet at the Wenaha River to Oregon Butte which is the tallest point of this vast wilderness at 6,401 feet. Rocky Mountain elk thrive in this area, which seasonally attracts more hunters than hikers. Rattlesnakes love the area, too, and you may see mule deer, white-tailed deer, black bears, coyotes, cougars, bobcats, and snowshoe hares. You might even be lucky enough to catch a glimpse of Big Horned sheep. Snow falls and accumulates about five feet deep between November and April. Summers are typically very hot and very dry. Approximately one-third of the Wilderness lies in Oregon (see Oregon, Wenaha-Tucannon Wilderness. Approximately 200 miles of trail system stays high on the open ridges, winding and connecting often enough to provide long loops through the Washington side and down into Oregon. Entry points can be found in both Washington and Oregon, with Three Forks, Godman, Troy, Cross Canyon, Hoodoo, Elk Flats and Timothy being the most easily accessed trailhead locations.
Leave No Trace
How to follow the seven standard Leave No Trace principles differs in different parts of the country (desert vs. Rocky Mountains). Click on any of the principles listed below to learn more about how they apply in the Wenaha-Tucannon Wilderness.
Digital and paper maps are critical tools for wilderness visitors. Online maps can help you plan and prepare for your visit ahead of time. You can also carry digital maps with you on your GPS unit or other handheld GPS device. Having a paper map with you in the backcountry, as well as solid orienteering skills, however, ensures that you can still route-find in the event that your electronic device fails.
Motorized equipment and equipment used for mechanical transport is generally prohibited in all wilderness areas.
This includes the use of motor vehicles, motorboats, motorized equipment, bicycles, hang gliders, wagons, carts, portage wheels, and the landing of aircraft including helicopters.