Popular forest road reopens

By Observer Upload October 19, 2012 01:57 pm

Road is adjacent to many popular hunting, hiking areas

Forest Service Road 77, washed out in the June 2010 flood that destroyed part of the Wallowa Mountain Loop Road, has been reopened.

The popular road between Tamarack Campground and East Eagle Trailhead skirts the southern boundary of the Eagle Cap Wilderness and is adjacent to many popular campsites and hunting and hiking areas.  

The washouts occurred along particularly hazardous sections of road that include steep drop-offs directly down to the creek. Due to the extent of the damage, concerns over public safety, cultural resources and the proximity of the Wild and Scenic River Eagle Creek, the environmental analysis and design were complex and the repairs took additional time to complete. 

At the time of the flood, it was determined that the Western Federal Lands Highway Division of the Federal Highway Administration would be in charge of repairing the road. The contract was awarded to JAL Construction, Inc., out of Bend. 

“I would like to recognize the hard work and coordination that went into this project,” said District Ranger Jeff Tomac. “We recognize the importance of this road to our public, and our forest road engineers did an outstanding job coordinating with our partners to ensure this road opened for use this fall. It was a complicated project in a sensitive area and I’m very happy with the professionalism and quality of work (that went into opening) Road 77 for public use.” Forest Service Road 77 begins at State Highway 86 between Richland and Halfway. It travels west along the southern edge of the Wallowa Mountains, parallels Eagle Creek, then ends at the Catherine Creek Summit on State Highway 203. 

The road is popular with hunters, anglers, campers, hikers and other outdoor enthusiasts. Recreationists seeking entrance to the Eagle Cap Wilderness from the south frequently travel on Road 77. 

Some of the well-used sites off the road are Two-Color Campground and Guard Station, Tamarack and Boulder Park campgrounds, Main Eagle and East Eagle trailheads and the Bennett Peak area.