Blue Mountains, OR


Big Dan finds Elkhorn Peak and Rock Creek Butte on a sunny Oregon day.

Note: click images to see a larger version in a new window

It is a little more than a two-hour drive from Boise to Baker City. Big Dan had chosen this area for two reasons- it's visible from the freeway so we had both been thinking of summits, and the weather in Idaho wasn't looking so hot. Dan did a little research and found both a peak and better weather. That's Elkhorn Peak in the center. Our trailhead was off the left side of the photo, on top of the ridge.



Valley view of the Blue Mountains

The Marble Creek trailhead isn't the most popular trailhead for this climb due to the rough road. And it is rough. You have about three miles of fairly abusive rock to drive over- not technical, but very rough from water running down the road.

But once we got through that with air still in the tires of the Durango, we were rewarded with a view of the trail, traversing flat across this hillside.

Marble Creek trailhead
Neither of us had been in this area before, so we didn't really know what to expect. We found a well-built trail with a very easy (almost flat) grade with outstanding views along a ridge. The high point on the left is Rock Creek Butte, on the right and closer is Elkhorn Peak. Blue Mountains

It took about an hour to walk the first three miles to the toe of Elkhorn Peak. From there, we got a great view of Twin Lakes and our first objective, Rock Creek Butte. Notice the elevation gain necessary to get to the saddle just under and to the right of the peak: more easy cruising.

Rock Creek Butte

When we got to the trail intersection above Twin Lakes, we found the trail sign, slightly edited (click for a bigger version, and look on the left).

Although the trail did indeed get a little rougher with some dropoffs, it was still good walking.

Certain Death

Then our guide showed us the route up the ridge to Rock Creek Butte. And he wasn't alone- we counted over 40 of them.

Big Dan's website, IdahoSummits, com, has much better goat pictures.

Morning above Rough Lake
From the car, it took us about 2:45 to summit, despite being slowed considerably in our photo-frenzy with our goat friends. View of Granite Peak

We had a leisurely lunch, and wandered around the summit taking in the views. This one looks back at our route, and also our second summit for the day, Elkhorn Peak.


We scrambled up Elkhorn Peak, then walked down the far ridge to make it a "shortcut." Then back to the car, where we dropped our packs for the short hike up to Marble Point. This was an easy summit, except it was hard to tell where the top was- it is an open, flat ridge with a bunch of little bumps on it. Unsure which was the highest, we simply walked over the top of each of them. Mission accomplished.

We changed shoes at about 5pm after 7 hours of walking. But we didn't have to change shirts- it had been in the 40s most of the day.


Bottom of the gully

We bounced back down the road to Baker and got some gas- the computer in Dan's car had told us we had 5 miles left on the tank when we knew it was still over 10 to town.

Then it was back on the road again. The sky to the east was really interesting- all sorts of weather happening with the setting sun lighting it up. About the time we got to Ontario this rainbow showed up, and just got better and better until it turned into a complete one with a double, and we had to pull over for pics.

Top of the gully

Mr. Natural Home | 2007 | Back to top of page | Questions :: e-mail to splattski