The Monument Rock Wilderness area is located in eastern Oregon in the United States. The wilderness area comprises 20,079 acres of land located in the Blue Mountains and the Strawberry Mountain Range. This wilderness covers land within both the Malheur and Wallowa-Whitman national forest. There are 4 named mountains in Monument Rock Wilderness. The highest and the most prominent mountain is Bullrun Rock at 7,864 feet. The Monument Rock Wilderness was established back in 1984 as part of the Oregon Wilderness Act. Though the region is surrounded by a multitude of hiking trails, in the national forests, the wilderness itself has only 15 miles of maintained trails.
Elevations in the wilderness can range from 5,100 up to 7,864 feet at the summit of Bullrun Rock. Within the wilderness lie the headwaters of the Little Malheur. Much of the vegetation in the region is made up of a variety of pine and fir trees. While western Oregon is characterized by heavy rainfall and lush forests, the eastern side of the state offers sunnier days and more rolling grassy meadows. Wildlife within the wilderness consists of black bears, elk, badgers, and deer. Other species include a variety of birds as well as the wolverine, often not found within the state.
Strawberry Peak: The most popular ascent up Strawberry Mountain is via the Strawberry Basin Trail. The route is 12 miles out and back with 3,372 feet of elevation gain. The trail climbs steadily up through the forest, past Strawberry Lake, before finally ascending up the mountain. Throughout the hike the trail passes by lakes, waterfalls, and alpine meadows before reaching the summit. As the tallest peak in the Malheur National Forest, the views from atop Strawberry Mountain are the best in the area. The forest stretches in all directions with views of the lakes below.
Strawberry Lake: The trail up to Strawberry Lake and Little Strawberry Lake, is 6.2-miles roundtrip with 1,374 feet of elevation gain. The trail climbs steadily up through the forest before clearing at Strawberry Lake. Up further lies Little Strawberry Lake. Both lakes provide backcountry camping as well as camping at the trailhead. Each lake is set in a bowl and surrounded by majestic are rugged peaks.
Monument Rock: The trail through the Monument Rock Wilderness is 4.6-miles with just 250 feet of elevation gain. This route is unique and rugged as the trail starts at 7,500 feet. Throughout the trail are panoramic views of eastern Oregon, open sage-covered plateau, as well as the rock that gives the wilderness its name.
La Grande: While there are not any major cities in much of eastern Oregon, La Grande sits at the foothills at the Wallowa Mountains, two hours north of the Monument Rock Wilderness. The city is located in the Grande Ronde Valley and has a population just under 15,000. It sits east of the Blue Mountains and west of the Wallowa Mountains. Mount Emily sits north of the town, towering over its streets. The small town is a great place to stop on your way to the Eagle Cap Wilderness, grab a bite to eat or check out the many local shops.
Boise: Two and a half hours east of the Monument Rock Wilderness sits Boise. The city of Boise is the capital of the state of Idaho and the most populous city in the state. Situated on the Boise River, the city is 41 miles east of the Oregon border and 110 miles north of the Nevada border. The Boise metropolitan area contains the state’s three most populous cities; Boise, Nampa, and Meridian with a total population of 710,000. The city is known as “The City of Trees” and the downtown area is full of shops and local dining options. The town is home to numerous recreational opportunities which include hiking and biking. Boise is also home to the Boise River Greenbelt which is an extensive urban trail system along the Boise River.
Bend: Bend is the largest city located in eastern Oregon with a population of nearly 100,000 and it sits four hours west of the Monument Rock Wilderness. The city is located on the Deschutes River and is known for being an outdoor paradise. To the west lies the lake and peaks of the Cascade Mountains, along with Mount Bachelor Ski Resort, while a trail in the city leads to the top of Pilot Butte. To the south lies the High Desert Museum and Newberry National Volcanic Monument. Just north of town is one of the state’s most iconic rock-climbing locations, Smith Rock State Park. As a whole, the city is a mecca for trail running, skiing, mountain biking, hiking, rock climbing, and even surfing in the river. Besides the abundance of outdoor activities, Bend is known for its numerous breweries and restaurants.