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Echo Meadows Hike

From Oregon Hikers Field Guide

Oregon Trail wagon ruts, Echo Meadows (bobcat)
Hoary aster (Machaerantherea canescens), Echo Meadows (bobcat)
View from the knoll, Echo Meadows (bobcat)
Walking routes at Echo Meadows (not a GPS track) (bobcat) Courtesy: Google Maps
  • Start point: Echo Meadows Trailhead
  • Ending Point: Echo Meadows Wagon Ruts
  • Trail Log:
  • Hike Type: In and out
  • Distance: 1.4 miles
  • Elevation gain: 70 feet
  • High Point: 725 feet
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Seasons: All year
  • Family Friendly: Yes
  • Backpackable: No
  • Crowded: No


Hike Description

There are not many places on the Columbia Plateau where you can get out even for a short walk in nature. The Echo Meadows interpretive trail is a worthwhile stop for those heading to or from the Wallowas or other points east as it is a few miles south of I-84, which can be rejoined via the town of Echo without backtracking. The site preserves about a mile of Oregon Trail wagon ruts in an area where these have mostly been plowed over. In addition, the native sagebrush grassland is a remnant of what had blanketed hundreds of square miles here. The “meadows” were actually not a major campsite, more of a lunch stop for wagoneers taking a cutoff called the “Left Hand Road” from the Umatilla Indian Agency a few miles farther east, where they encountered their first building since east of the Rockies. There was usually no water here, so they continued on to reach Butter Creek at the end of the day. The site is one of many on the Oregon National Historic Trail, which follows the migration route from Missouri to Oregon City.

After you read the information at the covered kiosk about the trail and Native Americans in the area, take the paved path along a fence line and pass through a gate. The wide paved trail leads through a sagebrush grassland. Soon pass a cattail sink, which attracts some wildlife and birds. Russian olives, an invasive species, have colonized this small waterhole.

After the sink, see a bench by the side of the trail. From here, you can walk through the grass to the top of the left knoll of the two knolls in the area (Be careful of rattlesnakes!). A sign at the top of the knoll tells about farming on the Columbia Plateau. Descend from the knoll the way you came and resume walking on the paved trail.

Reach the end of the trail. The wagon ruts, worn over a number of years in the soft loess from the late 1840s to 1860, are obvious. They stretch for about a mile on the BLM property. To the left is a shallow draw and then the corn fields begin. A longer section of the ruts, worth the exploration if you have the time, is to the right. If you do this hike in the evening or early morning, there is a good chance to observe wildlife, especially rabbits, coyotes, and various birds, emerging in the cool parts of the day. You can also circle back through Spikes Gulch, between the two knolls, after exploring the ruts.

Fees, Regulations, etc.

  • Information kiosk, interpretive signs


Trip Reports

Related Discussions / Q&A

Guidebooks that cover this destination

  • none

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Page Contributors

Oregon Hikers Field Guide is built as a collaborative effort by its user community. While we make every effort to fact-check, information found here should be considered anecdotal. You should cross-check against other references before planning a hike. Trail routing and conditions are subject to change. Please contact us if you notice errors on this page.

Hiking is a potentially risky activity, and the entire risk for users of this field guide is assumed by the user, and in no event shall Trailkeepers of Oregon be liable for any injury or damages suffered as a result of relying on content in this field guide. All content posted on the field guide becomes the property of Trailkeepers of Oregon, and may not be used without permission.