Hat Point

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What:  This is the only place where you can see Hells Canyon by driving up a mountain with a view over one mile down to the Snake River. The drive in and the viewpoints are breathtaking and compare with anything I've ever seen. This is a remarkably good road if snow is melted and no tree fall is present. A four wheel drive in good condition with good brakes is preferred, but many light sporty cars were making it fine.

Hat Point, 6,982 feet high, and balanced on the west edge of Hells Canyon, overlooks the deepest gorge in North America. The Snake River, elevation 1,276 feet, and Idaho's Seven Devils Mountains, over 9,000 feet in elevation, are both visible from the vantage of Hat Point. Hat Point was named after a cowboy on an unruly horse that lost his hat and couldn't find it until a year later on a branch of a tree overhanging the gorge.

Set your odometer at 0 in Imnaha to use the following information:

5.2 mile- Five Mile Viewpoint is an excellent view of the Imnaha River Valley and the distant Wallowa Mountains. The elevation here is 4,629 feet--a climb of 2,655 feet in the last five miles.

9.7 mile- Note the rock cairn on the right. This one appears to mark Hideaway Springs, just ahead. Some cairns have old lichen growths which indicate they predate the white men. These and other historic and prehistoric cultural resources are protected by Federal laws. Please do not disturb them so others may also enjoy and learn.

10.8 mile- Viewpoint overlooking Imnaha Canyon on the right and Horse Creek Canyon on the left.

17.1 mile- Granny Viewpoint is accessed by a one-eighth mile loop on the right. This 6,345-foot viewpoint overlooks the Imnaha River.

18.5 mile- Western Rim National Recreation Trail, #1774, leaves on the right to Lookout Mountain, Freezeout Saddle and the Snake River.

18.8 mile- Saddle Creek Viewpoint and Campground overlook Hells Canyon. Picnic and camping facilities are available, but no potable water. The area you are looking down into is accessible only by packstring, foot or boat.

21.8 mile- The Memaloose airstrip and helitack base were built for fire suppression. Please do not drive on the airstrip.

22.2 mile- Road #4240 continues straight ahead to Warnock Corrals and Lord Flat. Road #4240-315 on the right leads to the lookout.

24.0 mile- You have arrived at Hat Point. There are picnic and primitive overnight camping facilities. Sacajawea Campground is one-half mile north of Hat Point.
 


 Where:  From Spokane take 195 to Pullman, then follow signs to Lewiston. At hill above Lewiston take the historical view pullout to see a great view. You will see two bridges below as you do in the first picture above. You are now in Idaho near the corner of Oregon and Washington. You must cross one of these bridges. It is easy to find them once you descend the hill since most roads lead to them. Then you will be in Clarkston. In Clarkston, Washington state, (get any food needs taken care of here since there is not much available south of here) look for signs to Asotin and 129 South. Asotin is about 5 miles from Clarkston. As soon as you get into Asotion which is a very small town, there is a sort of 4 way stop. Continue South on Hwy 129. After climbing a hill and going on a high flat plateau for a while you will be driving a motorcycle's dream road with more twists and turns than a roller coaster for two long stretches of this. This is the only place where after driving for a half hour I could look only a couple hundred feet to the other mountain wall and see where I had been one half hour ago. Takes 2 hours to get through this.

Hwy 129 turns into Hwy 3. Go on it to Enterprise. At Enterprise take Wallowa Lake road and signs to Joseph. In Joseph take the Little Sheep Creek road to Imnaha which is still paved. In Imnaha go straight through the little town and you will begin a heck of a climb. Watch for oncoming traffic and be courteous about passing them. Try to find a wide place in the road and stop there until they pass by. If they stubbornly wait it might be because they are at a nice wide place in the road so you might want to advance. The miles are marked all the way to the top. It is exactly 24 miles. It took me 2 hours to get to the top, and one hour to get down. So this is actually in Oregon.

 

 Cautions: Never try to do this before mid-June. Always call this number 541-426-5546 before going as they close the road with no notice if there is tree-fall.


 List:  picnic (no food sources nearby), water, camera.