On the northeastern flanks of the Wallowa Mountains, Clear Lake Ridge's rocky-soiled ridgetops, steep canyon and mile-high lakes provide a spectacular setting and diverse habitats for birds and other wildlife.
This basalt plateau, hosting three shallow lakes amid native grasslands, gives way to Devil's Gulch, a canyon plunging 3,000 feet toward Little Sheep Creek. Views from the plateau include the Seven Devil's range across Hells Canyon into Idaho, and south to the 9,000-ft peaks of the Eagle Cap Wilderness in the Wallowas.
East of Joseph, in Oregon's northeast corner
Conservancy staff and partners have inventoried populations of threatened Spalding’s catchfly, as well as non-native, invasive plant species. Volunteers help control invasives, such as knapweed and Scotch thistle, and monitor and repair fences and exclosures protecting aspen stands. From July through October, volunteer caretakers live here and monitor preserve activities.
On the plateau, nearly a dozen native bunch grasses and dozens of wildflower species can be seen. Early in the season, balsamroot, camas and lupine put on a spectacular display. Later, goldenrod, gentian, yampah and other species continue to provide color and food for pollinating insects. The preserve is also home to the threatened Spalding's catchfly, and native grassland communities include Idaho fescue, junegrass and bluebunch wheatgrass.
Devil’s Gulch contains excellent examples of rare and threatened riparian plants. Prominent species include cottonwood, aspen, water birch, black hawthorne, Wood’s rose, serviceberry and Douglas’ spirea.
Large mammals thriving here include Rocky Mountain elk, mule deer, black bear and cougar. Colonies of Belding ground squirrels provide food for raptors, coyote and badger.
More than 250 bird species are also known to frequent the preserve—with more than 100 observed nesting—such as mountain bluebirds, grasshopper sparrows and red-eyed vireo. Swainson's hawks, goshawks, mountain quail, ruffed grouse, yellow-breasted chats, lazuli buntings and canyon wrens also live here, and golden eagles and ferruginous hawks sometimes nest in the vicinity of Downey Lake.
The best time to visit for wildflower displays is May and June, but be on the lookout for western rattlesnakes. Download a trail map.
Please observe the following guidelines while hiking:
The preserve is accessed on a rough—but scenic—hiking trail up Devil’s Gulch. To reach the trailhead from Joseph:
Please contact Jeff Fields at The Nature Conservancy's office in Enterprise, (541) 426-3458.