Elkhorn Crest Trail

Running for 28 miles along the Elkhorn Range at an average elevation of 7,200 feet, this scenic trail takes you past some of the tallest peaks of Oregon's Blue Mountains. As the trail rolls along repeatedly crossing the North Fork John Day Wilderness, enjoy dramatic views, varied geology, and wildflowers in July. And keep an eye out for elk and mountain goats.


Set up a car shuttle, make reservations with a shuttle service, or a combination for a one-way trip.

elkhorn crest trailhead (north terminus)

Take Exit 285 off of I-84 25 south of La Grande onto SR-237. Drive 4 miles, following the ski area signs, turn left onto Ellis Road, drive ~1 mile and turn right onto Anthony Lake Highway which becomes Forest Road 73. Drive 16 miles to the trailhead (7,160 ft) just before the Anthony Lake Campground and Anthony Lake Mountain Resort.

marble pass trailhead (south terminus)

From I-84 in Baker City, drive north on SR-30 to northern edge of town and turn left onto Pocahontas Road. Drive ~7 mlies, turn left onto Marble Creek Road which becomes Forest Road 6510, and drive 9 miles to the trailhead at the top of the ridge (7,530 ft). High-clearance AWD/4WD vehicles are recommended, because Forest Road 6510 is very rough, steep, and narrow, and has many drainage ditches in its last four miles.

Twin Lakes Trailhead (alternate southern approach)

From I-84, take Baker City exit, drive east from downtown on Main Street which becomes OR-7 toward Sumpter for 23.3 miles. Drive one mile beyond end of Philips Reservoir, between Mileposts 28 and 29, and turn right onto Deer Creek Road. After 4.2 miles, pass the turnoff to Deer Creek Campground and continue straight on Forest Road 030, which may be rough in places, to its end in 3.8 miles (5,400 ft). The final 0.4 miles is rougher, and,  although okay with medium-clearance passenger cars riven slowly and carefully, is better negotiated with high clearance AWD/4WD vehicle.

shuttle services


one-way end-to-end

Hiking the trail south to north is best, because it reduce the amount of elevation gain and both trailheads can be accessed by local shuttle services. Three days and two nights is a typical itinerary. From Marble Pass, hike to and camp at the secluded Twin Lakes, which are reached by following half a mile of switchbacks down from the Elkhorn Crest-Twin Lakes Trail junction. Fill water bottles at Twin Lakes, return to the Elkhorn Crest Trail, and continue for 11 miles and camp at Summit Lake. Exit the trail by hiking Angell Pass to the Anthony Lakes Trailhead. Be sure to consider side trips to other lakes accessible from the trail, including Lost Lake, Dutch Flat Lake, and Meadow Lake.

day trips

From the trail's northern terminus near Anthony Lakes, Dutch Flat Lake (8.4 miles round-trip) or Lost Lake (12.8 miles round-trip). It's ~1,000 feet of elevation gain in the first few miles.

From the trail's southern terminusTwin Lakes and Rock Creek Butte are other worthy day destinations. Rock Creek Butte is one mile past the Elkhorn Crest-Twin Lakes junction and is the highest point of the  Elkhorns.  Both Rock Creek Butte and Elkhorn Peak are not reached via official marked trails and require crossing over scree and loose rock.

The Twin Lakes Trail reaches the Elkhorn Crest Trail at 8,100 ft in 4.1 miles, 3.8 miles from the Marble Pass Trailhead (7,840 ft). Upper Twin Lake (7,700 ft) and Lower Twin Lakes (7,660 ft)  are a short distance off the Twin Lakes Trail ~1 mile below the Elkhorn Crest Trail junction.  Expect to see several mountain goats near the lakes and on the nearby slopes.  If you camp near either of the lakes, bring all your gear into your tent to avoid damage by the goats.


  • Water sources are not plentiful along the trail and all water should be treated before drinking. Many water sources are lakes that require descending a half mile or more from the trail, adding mileage and elevation gain to the trip. Carry plenty of water while hiking and fill up as often as possible.
  • As of 2019, a long-distance trail race is held on the Elkhorn Crest trail on a Saturday in late July. Check ultrasignup.com for the event date.
  • Mechanized vehicles are not permitted on much of the trail.
  • For a shorter backpacking trip of ~20 miles, hike out and back to Summit Lake which sits roughly midway on the Elkhorn Trail, ~2 miles closer to the trail's northern end.
  • Guidebook: 100 Hikes / Travel Guide Eastern Oregon, 3r ed. by William L. Sullivan (Navillus Press 2015).
  • Suitable Activities: Backpacking, Day Hiking, Trail Running
  • Seasons: July, August, September, October
  • Weather: View weather forecast
  • Difficulty: Moderate/Strenuous
  • Length: 28.0 mi
  • Elevation Gain: 5,500 ft
  • 8,380 ft
  • Land Manager: Wallowa-Whitman National Forest
    North Fork John Day Wilderness, Whitman Ranger District (WWNF)
  • Parking Permit Required: None
  • Recommended Party Size: 12
  • Maximum Party Size: 12
  • Maximum Route/Place Capacity: 12
  • USGS Anthony Lakes, OR
  • USGS Bourne, OR
  • USGS Elkhorn Peak, OR
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