One of the few listed trails going into Joseph Creek is the Chico Trail. According to my Wallowa Valley Ranger District map, you can access the Chico trail from three different roads. The first and easiest is from Highway 3 heading north out of Enterprise. The turn off the highway is not marked with any big green or brown highway sign. If you want to find the Chico Trailhead you need to know where it is to begin with.
Last year in my many trips into Joseph Creek I had also wanted to try the Chico Trail. Though once again there was very little information. The only information I had read said that the trail went down into Davis Creek, up Starvation Ridge, down Starvation Ridge into Swamp Creek and then meandered its way down Swamp Creek before finally getting to Joseph Creek. It did not sound like a real easy or direct way of getting to Joseph Creek so I instead chose to pursue shorter routes down bare ridges where I knew there would not be lots of downed trees and thick brush blocking my path.
My map however shows a trail going down Davis Creek, which runs into Swamp Creek, which runs into Joseph Creek. Maps, however, do not tell you if the trail has been maintained in the last 50 years or how good that trail was to begin with.
My curiosity got the best of me a few Sundays back. My wife, the boys, and I were driving back from Troy after shuttling some vehicles and I decided we might as well stop and take a peek at the Chico Trail. The trail looked pretty good so I thought we might as well walk down it a little ways . . . since we were there. And it was only a mile until we reached the bottom so I thought we might as well follow the trail downstream along Davis Creek for a little ways . . . since we were there. After 4 or 5 miles my wife told me that we had probably seen enough of it for one afternoon since we had not planned on walking and did not bring any food or water.
I really wanted to keep going, it was only another 1 ½ to 2 miles and we would be to the confluence of Davis Creek and Swamp Creek. But it was late in the afternoon and none of us had really came prepared for doing a 12 mile hike. Turning around at that point made for a 9 to 10 mile hike anyway.
The Chico Trail, # 1658, is a pretty nice trail from the Trailhead to Davis Creek Trail, #1660. It is only about a mile down the ridge and the trail zigzags back and forth to make the slope a little easier. Once on Davis Creek, it is a beautiful hike. Davis Creek is a picturesque, meandering stream going in and out of pretty little meadows filled with grass and flowers. I enjoy walking in the woods, but I really enjoyed this walk. The trail was pretty darn good as well. There were quite a few trees across the trail, but the trail had certainly been maintained well at some points in the past judging by how many trees were cut out of the trail and the quality of the trail in general. I will certainly be back to enjoy this trail and walk the last few miles of it when I have a little more time.
Chico Trail #1658: from Chico Trailhead to Davis Creek trail is about 1.2 miles. It starts at 4,800 ft and drops down to 3,950 ft at Davis Creek.
Davis Creek Trail # 1660: This trail connects the Chico Trail to Swamp Creek Trail and is about 5.6 miles long. It starts at 3,950 ft and ends at 2,990 ft.