Hike the Elkhorn Crest Lollipop from Anthony Lakes

Rate this Adventure 20 miles 3829 ft gain  - Out-and-Back Trail

Added by Benjamin Perri

Lakes and Goats and Views, Oh My!!!

After unsuccessfully attempting to run 100 miles at IMTUF in Idaho, I had some time to kill before I had to be home and energy in my legs to burn.  The Eastern part of Oregon has been on my list of places to run since I moved to the state a few years ago.  One route popped into my mind and I had to do it.

The Elkhorn Crest is a point to point trail in the Blue Mountains just outside of Baker City, Oregon.  The trail runs 23.3 miles, one way, from Anthony Lakes TH to Marble Pass TH.  I met with the Forest Service in Baker City the day before I went to discuss the infamous road to Marble Pass.  Even with an SUV with decent ground clearance, the Forest Service told me that I should not attempt the road to Marble Pass TH and I took their advice and drove up to Anthony Lakes and started from there.  You will see a lot of trail reports saying to start from Marble Pass and the only real reason for this is to avoid the climb out of Anthony Lakes.  For me long, rough road is not appealing and climbing is.

So, setting out south from the TH, the trail meanders through the forest at a fairly level pitch.  Hikers looking to their right will catch glimpses of Anthony and Lilypad Lakes that are accessible from this trail at a junction about a 1/4 mile in.  After a short while, the sign for Black Lake presents itself on a tree about eye level, directing you to a trail off to your right.  Take it.  The lake is gorgeous.  The trail does climb up quite a bit in a short time, so be ready for that.

After a few pictures of Black Lake, make your way back down the trail to rejoin the Elkhorn Trail.  As you continue south, keep an eye to the right to catch glimpses of the east side of Black Lake through the trees.  From here, you start to climb.  Trees make way for granite slabs and chirping birds and open views of where you are going.  Some short switchbacks greet you to make the climb easier.  As much as it will be a struggle, keep your eyes on your footing as it can be tricky.  The climb lasts about 1000 feet in 2.5 miles, so you can do it!

Once you arrive at the top of the climb, you will get to an intersection with the Crawfish Basin trail to your right and Dutch Flat Lake trail to the left.  I did not take either one and the only reason I did not was due to the fact that a goat was in my way and I had to let it do it's thing.  After snapping way too many pictures of the goat in my way, I gave a whistle and it ran out of my way and I continued to follow the contour of the trail as it crept behind the peaks of the Crest and lead me to Nip and Tuck Pass where there is another trail junction with Cunningham Cove heading off to the right.  As I passed by the this junction and continued on, I rounded a corner to be on the south facing side of the range with open views to my right and more goats on my left!  After hanging with the goats for a bit, the trail takes you to another junction to your left.  This one I took and it leads down the slope to Lost Lake.  Take a break and some pictures of this gorgeous lake and fill up on some water if you have a filter and need it.  Instead of returning the way I came, I remained on the same trail I came from and reached Meadow Lake.  I don't highly recommend the continuation to Meadow Lake which is stagnant and hard to get to, plus the trail out if you don't backtrack is more an RV road and extremely dusty.  Since I was already there, I went that way and eventually ran in to the North Powder River Trail that climbed gradually back up to Elkhorn Crest via Cracker Saddle.  At the pinnacle of the saddle, there is an intersection and you will be on a Forest Road according to GPS.  You could continue to the right to finish the one way hike of Elkhorn Crest, but I decided to head back.  And on the way back you are on a section of the trail not travelled since you took the side trip to Lost Lake.  The views are equally as beautiful.  Keep on the Elkhorn Crest Trail to return to your car and then drive in to Baker City and get a beer and burger at Barley Brown's Pub.  

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Tags

Photography
Hiking
Lake
Scenic
Wildlife

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