Elkhorn Crest Trail: Lost Lake + Summit Lake

John Day + Blue Mountains Area, Oregon

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Elkhorn Crest Trail: Lost Lake + Summit Lake
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  • The Elkhorn Crest Trail.- Elkhorn Crest Trail: Lost Lake + Summit Lake
  • Dragonfly (Anisoptera).- Elkhorn Crest Trail: Lost Lake + Summit Lake
  • Sticky paintbrush (Castilleja glandulifera).- Elkhorn Crest Trail: Lost Lake + Summit Lake
  • The Elkhorn Crest Trail passes through granite rocks.- Elkhorn Crest Trail: Lost Lake + Summit Lake
  • Roundleaf alumroot (Heuchera cylindrica).- Elkhorn Crest Trail: Lost Lake + Summit Lake
  • Switchbacks on the way to Angell Pass.- Elkhorn Crest Trail: Lost Lake + Summit Lake
  • Swamp buttercup (Ranunculus orthorhynchus).- Elkhorn Crest Trail: Lost Lake + Summit Lake
  • Wildflowers bloom in the snow melt.- Elkhorn Crest Trail: Lost Lake + Summit Lake
  • Glacier lily (Erythronium grandiflorum).- Elkhorn Crest Trail: Lost Lake + Summit Lake
  • Spring snowfields on the Elkhorn Crest Trail.- Elkhorn Crest Trail: Lost Lake + Summit Lake
  • A mountain goat (Oreamnos americanus) watches from above.- Elkhorn Crest Trail: Lost Lake + Summit Lake
  • Grouseberry (Vaccinium scoparium).- Elkhorn Crest Trail: Lost Lake + Summit Lake
  • Approaching Angell Pass.- Elkhorn Crest Trail: Lost Lake + Summit Lake
  • Island in Dutch Flat Lake.- Elkhorn Crest Trail: Lost Lake + Summit Lake
  • Unidentified species (help us identify it by providing feedback).- Elkhorn Crest Trail: Lost Lake + Summit Lake
  • A bird's nest made from the hair of local wildlife.- Elkhorn Crest Trail: Lost Lake + Summit Lake
  • Granite uplift in the Blue Mountains.- Elkhorn Crest Trail: Lost Lake + Summit Lake
  • The Elkhorn Crest Trail as it heads toward Nip and Tuck Pass.- Elkhorn Crest Trail: Lost Lake + Summit Lake
  • Wildfire smoke lingering in the valley below.- Elkhorn Crest Trail: Lost Lake + Summit Lake
  • Granite cliffs along the Elkhorn Crest Trail.- Elkhorn Crest Trail: Lost Lake + Summit Lake
  • Wildfire remains near Nip and Tuck Pass.- Elkhorn Crest Trail: Lost Lake + Summit Lake
  • Sunrise over Lost Lake.- Elkhorn Crest Trail: Lost Lake + Summit Lake
  • Campsite at Lost Lake.- Elkhorn Crest Trail: Lost Lake + Summit Lake
  • Granite ridge on the Elkhorn Crest Trail.- Elkhorn Crest Trail: Lost Lake + Summit Lake
  • The trail out from Lost Lake.- Elkhorn Crest Trail: Lost Lake + Summit Lake
  • Early morning moon.- Elkhorn Crest Trail: Lost Lake + Summit Lake
  • Headed around Mount Ruth.- Elkhorn Crest Trail: Lost Lake + Summit Lake
  • Western blue flax (Linum lewisii).- Elkhorn Crest Trail: Lost Lake + Summit Lake
  • Longleaf phlox (Phlox longifolia).- Elkhorn Crest Trail: Lost Lake + Summit Lake
  • Above Lost Lake.- Elkhorn Crest Trail: Lost Lake + Summit Lake
  • Lanceleaf stonecrop (Sedum lanceolatum).- Elkhorn Crest Trail: Lost Lake + Summit Lake
  • The other side of Mount Ruth.- Elkhorn Crest Trail: Lost Lake + Summit Lake
  • Cracker Saddle.- Elkhorn Crest Trail: Lost Lake + Summit Lake
  • The valley on the other side of Cracker Saddle.- Elkhorn Crest Trail: Lost Lake + Summit Lake
  • The trail looks more like a road after the Cracker Saddle junction.- Elkhorn Crest Trail: Lost Lake + Summit Lake
  • The trail forks left for Summit Lake and right to conitnue to Twin Lakes.- Elkhorn Crest Trail: Lost Lake + Summit Lake
  • Trail to Summit Lake.- Elkhorn Crest Trail: Lost Lake + Summit Lake
  • Looking up at the mountain summit.- Elkhorn Crest Trail: Lost Lake + Summit Lake
  • Approaching Summit Lake.- Elkhorn Crest Trail: Lost Lake + Summit Lake
  • Summit Lake.- Elkhorn Crest Trail: Lost Lake + Summit Lake
  • Unidentified species (help us identify it by providing feedback).- Elkhorn Crest Trail: Lost Lake + Summit Lake
  • Mountain goats (Oreamnos americanus).- Elkhorn Crest Trail: Lost Lake + Summit Lake
  • One of the campsites found at Summit Lake.- Elkhorn Crest Trail: Lost Lake + Summit Lake
  • Shores of Summit Lake.- Elkhorn Crest Trail: Lost Lake + Summit Lake
  • Sunset over Summit Lake.- Elkhorn Crest Trail: Lost Lake + Summit Lake
  • Sunset over Summit Lake.- Elkhorn Crest Trail: Lost Lake + Summit Lake
  • Elk early in the morning.- Elkhorn Crest Trail: Lost Lake + Summit Lake
Overview + Weather
Pros: 
Great views. Wildflowers. Secluded. Wildlife.
Cons: 
Mosquitos. Can get windy.
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Region:
John Day + Blue Mountains Area, OR
Congestion: 
Low
Preferable Season(s):
Summer, Fall
Day-Use/Parking Pass Required:
Not Required
Total Distance: 
23.00 mi (37.01 km)
Trailhead Elev.: 
7,192 ft (2,192 m)
Net Elev. Gain: 
2,600 ft (792 m)
Trail Uses:
Hiking, Biking, Horseback
Trail type: 
There-and-back
Dogs allowed: 
Yes
Current Local Weather:
Powered by Dark Sky

Today

Clear throughout the day.
68°F
43°

Sat

Clear throughout the day.
74°F
49°

Sun

Partly cloudy overnight.
74°F
56°

Mon

Light rain starting in the afternoon, continuing until evening.
73°F
55°

Tue

Light rain starting in the afternoon, continuing until evening.
70°F
52°

Wed

Light rain until evening.
65°F
48°

Thu

Partly cloudy in the evening.
68°F
42°
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Hike Description

Hike Description

Contributor

The Elkhorn Crest Trail follows the granite spine of the Elkhorn Range, a range of the Blue Mountains found in Northeastern Oregon. The geology is notably different than the popular volcanic hikes found in the Pacific Northwest. Water sources and flat campsites are limited along on the trail, so it is a good idea to plan on visiting the many lakes along the way.

Half a mile from trailhead, keep left at a junction for Anthony Lake and stay left again at the fork for Black Lake. After gradually climbing through the forest for about a mile, the grade increases as the trail ascends toward Angell Pass. The greatest climb of the trek is in the these first 2 miles, and the trail gains about 1,400 feet. From here, descend about half mile to the Dutch Flat Saddle to find a four-way junction. Over the ridge to the left is Dutch Flat Lake, which can be reached in just a mile by following the steep trail down.

To continue on the Elkhorn Crest Trail, stay straight and follow the contours along an open slope for 1.9 miles to Nip and Tuck Pass. Here the trail passes through the granite ridge crest to the junction for Lost Lake and Meadow Lake. For a detour to the shallow lakes, go left and continue through the switchbacks down through the remains of a forest fire. Lost Lake can be found after descending 1.3 miles, and Meadow Lake, which is stagnant and less appealing, is reached after 2.5 miles. 

If you choose to continue on the Elkhorn Crest Trail, keep straight at the junction for 3.4 miles around Mount Ruth to Cracker Saddle. The trail leaves the North Fork of the John Day Wilderness, and you may see motorized traffic. This junction can be a little confusing. The Peavey Trail heads down to the right, and an unknown trail continues slightly right for half a mile before it disappears. Another trail slightly to the left on the other side of a rock pile descends before it disappears right before a fence. Avoid all of these and turn left to follow what seems like a jeep road. After a couple hundred yards, keep right at the fork to the crossing of the actual jeep road. This rugged, steep road provided access to the mining town of Bourne before the town was abandoned. Find the Elkhorn Crest trail just on the other side of the road; it is marked with a sign pointing to Twin Lakes. Just beyond the sign the trail forks left for 1.5 miles to Summit Lake or right to continue to Twin Lakes and Marble Pass.

Summit Lake is just about the same size as Anthony Lake, but it is rarely visited aside from the families of white mountain goats that live in the cliffs on the far end of the lake. From its deep, clear water to the towering mountain peaks surrounding it, the serene beauty of Summit Lake is incredible. Enjoy a night or two here in one of the campsites around the lake before heading back to the Elkhorn Crest Trail. It is a 10-mile hike back to the trailhead, or you can continue on to Twin Lakes and Marble Pass.

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Nearby Camping + Lodging

(3 within a 30 mile radius)

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(1 within a 30 mile radius)

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