Recommend Stay: 3 to 7 days
Distance from Boise: 128 miles / Drive time: 2.5 hours
Trip Cost Estimate: $375 to $675
Baker City is a historic town on the Oregon Trail and has lots of history in the downtown area, but is usually passed over by most travelers. There are two main areas to visit in the Baker City area with your Wandervan campervan, the first one is south of town in the Phillips Lake area and the second is north of town in the Anthony Lakes area.
Phillips Lake Area:
Only 25 minutes from Baker City is Phillips Lake which has some excellent campgrounds around the lake and also provides access to the southern part of the Elkhorn Mountains. The Union Creek Campground is a good base to start your adventures with your campervan from. Right at the lake there is a loop trail that circles the lake called the Phillips Lake Trail. This trail is a great trail to hike or bike. If you venture a little further from the lake into the Elkhorn Mountains you can access the Twin Lakes Trail and the Elkhorn Crest Trail. The Twin Lakes are some of the most scenic lakes in the Elkhorn's and you have a high chance of seeing some Big Horn Sheep. Read through the trail descriptions below for some more information.
1) Phillips Lake Trail (North/South) - The Phillips Lake North Shore Trail traverses the northern banks of Phillips Reservoir connecting Mason Dam Boat Launch, Union Creek Campground, Social Security Point, Mowich Loop to a western access point near Hudspeth Lane. Use Hudspeth Lane to connect to the Phillips Lake South Shore Trail. The South Shore trail traverses the southerly banks of the reservoir through grasslands and young ponderosa pine trees. It is a scenic trail and offers outstanding views of the lake and the Elkhorn Mountains. The numerous coves and inlets make it easy to see wildlife. There are only short uphills on this trail and overall it is very easy but be aware there is some exposure along the way. Click on the links in the beginning for maps and directions.
2) Twin Lakes - To hike to the lakes it is best done from the Twin Lakes trailhead, but be prepared for about 2400ft of climbing. With a bike this trail is best done as a downhill by climbing to Marble Pass on dirt roads and then taking the Elkhorn Crest trail to the start. The trail is very rocky and is full of tight switchbacks with the hardest being the ones right after leaving the Elkhorn Crest. Be very careful and make sure to stop to take in the view! When you reach the lake stop and dip your fishing pole if you're down to catch some trout. Click on the link in the beginning for maps and directions.
3) Elkhorn Crest Trail Loop - This is one of the best ways to see mountain goats and high alpine lakes in Eastern Oregon. This loop has some steep climbing on dirt roads, but you are rewarded with some amazing views since you are riding along the top of the Elkhorn Mountains. This trail is certainly one of the most amazing high elevation trails in all of Oregon! Unlike the central and western Oregon trails, you'll see very few people. Click on the link in the beginning for maps and directions.
Anthony Lakes Area:
Only 50 minutes from Baker City is the Anthony Lakes area and some great camping. You can camp right next to Anthony Lake at the Anthony Lake Campground or the Mud Lake Campground. From both of these campgrounds there is loads of trails to explore. Hiking trails climb into the nearby wilderness area or there are biking trails to explore closer to the lakes and down the road. For kids there are numerable short trails from the Anthony Lake Campground that connect the lower two lakes and make for some great family hikes.
1) Elkhorn Crest Trail - This trail starts near the main Anthony Lakes Campground and climbs into the mountains. The trail begins as a wide and fairly smooth path and will be the most traveled in the first 1/2 mile. After that, the trail becomes rockier and more challenging. Near the top, there are some sections with exposure that you need to be aware of. Bikes can only travel 2.7 miles on this trail since it hits a Wilderness Boundary, but hikers can continue on the trail into the wilderness.
2) Dutch Flat Trail - The Dutch Flat Trail saw a trail crew come through in 2012 and really cleaned up the trail after years of neglect. Now the trail is a great out-and-back or part of a creative loop. As an out-and-back, the trail climbs gently for most of the climb, but there will be rock sections that will keep you on your toes. Of course, these sections have some exposure as well. Near the top, you'll come to Dutch Flat lake where you can take in some great views of the Elkhorn Mountains. If you are doing this as an out-and-back, then you'll know the downhill and the challenging rock sections to watch out for. Beware of the exposure along some of the granite faces where the trail is perched along the side.
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