Another great trailhead into the Eagle Cap is found just a short drive away. It offers two possibilities (actually three). One is to take the fairly gradual trail into the beautiful McCully Basin, about 5 miles and gaining 1900’. The other is to follow the tram service road up the back side of Mt. Howard for 3.5 miles up to the top tramway station, gaining 3000’ in the hike.
Both treks couldn’t be more different: one takes you along a shady creek into a glacial cirque surrounded by mountains; the other runs right up the ridge to the top of a mountain. It really depends on what you’re willing to work for as both are beautiful in their own ways. These routes are open to both horses and hikers. The service road up to Howard is open to bicycles as well, making the return trip a breeze.
As the third option, if you were dropped off, you could just ride the tram back down to the lake (be sure to purchase your ticket first).
Driving Distance- Joseph to McCully Trailhead: About 11 miles- figure about 40 mph average speed or about 30 minutes in transit.
Driving Directions: From Joseph head east on Oregon State 350 (to Imnaha) and go for about 5 miles to Tucker Down Road (to Ferguson Ski Area); Turn right on Tucker Down Road (County Road 633) and go 3 miles over the cattle guard where the road then becomes Forest Road 3920; Continue on Forest Road 3920 for about 1.3 miles- the road forks; Take the right fork onto Forest Road 3920012 and go 0.5 miles to trailhead entrance on your right.
Amenities: The parking lot is large and has a vault toilet. The lot requires a NW Forest Pass or you can leave a parking fee. If you are traveling into the wilderness (McCully Basin is, Howard is not) you’ll need to fill out a wilderness permit (free) available at the site for your group.