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Elkhorn Crest Trail #1611

Difficult
 4.4 (5)

A high alpine traverse with lots of Mountain Goats.


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Map Key

23.7

Miles

38.2

KM

Point to Point

8,380' 2,554 m

High

7,194' 2,193 m

Low

2,251' 686 m

Up

2,605' 794 m

Down

4%

Avg Grade (2°)

30%

Max Grade (16°)

Dogs Off-leash

Features Commonly Backpacked · Views

Can be snowbound until July.

Need to Know

Water is scarce along the ridge. A stream draining into Sardine Gulch crosses the trail 12.5 miles from Marble Pass, which is the only perennial water source I know of from the trail itself. There is access to several lakes from the ridge trail via connecting trails full of switchbacks. These lakes would be nice to visit but each one requires additional mileage and significant elevation loss and regain. Even if you hike to Twin Lakes, it is still about 10 miles from there to the stream.

Description

The Elkhorn Crest is the highest elevation singletrack trail in eastern Oregon. You'll need a high clearance vehicle to drive to the trailhead or you can park as far up as you can go and hike from there.

There are lots of mountain goats on the Elkhorn Crest Trail and it is great as a multi-day out and back to Columbia Hill. If you're looking for something a little easier, there are a couple of shuttle options that can be pieced together. The first 5 miles to the Twin Lakes Trail intersection is a blast both out and back. From 5 miles to 8 miles is rocky and has significant exposure -- but it's fun and possible to hike it all. From 8 miles to 14 miles is great singletrack, there are some rocks but it's mostly a relatively fast downhill trail.

Contacts

Shared By:

Chris Wandervans with improvements by Bruce Hope and 1 other

Trail Ratings

  4.4 from 5 votes

#8122

Overall
  4.4 from 5 votes
5 Star
40%
4 Star
60%
3 Star
0%
2 Star
0%
1 Star
0%
Trail Rankings

#236

in Oregon

#8,122

Overall
6 Views Last Month
1,913 Since Aug 14, 2017
Difficult

0%
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Photos

Views are frequent as the trail follows closely to Elkhorn Ridge.
Jan 1, 2020 near Baker City, OR
Dramatic clouds cast shadows that moved with the wind.
Jan 1, 2020 near Baker City, OR
Twin Lakes and the Elkhorn Crest Trail 1611.
Jan 1, 2020 near Baker City, OR
Location on map is estimated.  I think this is looking down on Lost Lake.
Jan 3, 2020 near Baker City, OR
From our camp on the West side of Sardine Gulch, where tent site spots were very small.
Jan 1, 2020 near Baker City, OR
Gunsight Butte and Hoffer Lakes near the north end of the trail
Dec 17, 2018 near La Grande, OR

Weather


Current Trail Conditions

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Check-Ins

Jun 27, 2022
Lara Watrous
there's still a good bit of snow within 1km of the parking lot. I had hoped to get out backpacking, but after the 1km point I bailed. The trail see… 0.7mi
Aug 25, 2019
Emily Smith
South end out and back with a Rock Creek Butte summie. 12mi
Aug 18, 2019
Emily Smith
Top 8 miles out and back, with a Mt. Ruth summie 16mi
Aug 1, 2019
Marshall Johnson
11h 15m