around Anthony Lake
alpine wonderland high in the Elkhorn Range of Eastern Oregon's
the Hike: Just as beautiful, but more accessible than
the more famous Wallowa Mountains nearby, the Elkhorn Range
boasts craggy granite peaks and high alpine lakes surrounded
by wildflowers. A paved road climbs to a lovely campground
and picnic area beside 7,140-foot-high Anthony Lake. From
here hikers can stroll around the lake in half an hour or
tackle a more demanding 8.2-mile loop around Gunsight Mountain.
Mountain at Anthony Lake.
Photo by William Sullivan
An easy 1-mile path loops around Anthony Lake. The more difficult
8.2-mile loop around Gunsight Mountain gains 1,330 feet of elevation.
Open July through October.
There: Drive Interstate 84 north of Baker City 19 miles (or
south of La Grande 24 miles) to North Powder exit 285 and follow
"Anthony Lakes" signs 21 paved miles west on what becomes Road 73.
you're hauling a horse trailer or backpacking equipment, plan to
park in the well-marked Elkhorn Crest Trailhead lot on the left,
where there's a self-pay station for the required parking pass.
you're just out for a day hike, however, drive onward 0.3 mile and
turn left at an Anthony Lake Campground sign. After 100 yards fork
to the right toward a picnic area, and in another 100 yards park
on the left at a lakeshore picnic gazebo. Here no parking fee is
required, but dogs are allowed only on a leash.
A Northwest Forest Pass is required to park in the Elkhorn Crest
Trailhead, but not at the Anthony Lake picnic area. The pass costs
$5 per day or $30 per season. It can be purchased at a ranger station,
an outdoor store or at a trailhead fee box.
Tips: Start at Anthony Lake's picnic gazebo, walk down to the
lake and turn left along the shoreline trail. After strolling clockwise
0.3 mile around the lake you'll reach a boat ramp and face a decision.
Two trails set off from the far right-hand side of the boat ramp's
road turnaround - the Black Lake Trail on the left and the Hoffer
Lake Trail on the right.
the easy, 1-mile loop hike, take the right-hand trail and keep right
around Anthony Lake to return to your car. To make the loop more
interesting, you could detour 0.6 mile up to the lovely Hoffer Lakes.
most spectacular loop hike in the area, however, is an 8.2-mile
trip around Gunsight Mountain. Start as before from the picnic gazebo,
but after walking 0.3 mile to the boat ramp, veer left toward Black
Lake for 0.5 mile and then keep straight on the Elkhorn Crest Trail.
well-graded path climbs 950 feet in 2.1 miles to a breathtaking
view at Angell Pass. Continue downhill 0.6 mile to a junction in
Dutch Flat Saddle, a good lunch stop. Briefly detour 100 feet left
for a view of Dutch Flat Lake, a mile below.
return to the saddle and take the Crawfish Basin Trail downhill.
This path skirts above Crawfish Meadow before ending at a dirt road.
Go straight along this road 0.4 mile to a pass with a 4-way junction.
Look to the right at this pass to find an unmarked trail angling
downhill. Take this path to cut off the service road's first switchback.
At the road's second switchback, turn right on the Hoffer Lakes
Trail for the prettiest route back to your car.
The Blue Mountain range began as a volcanic island archipelago in
the Pacific Ocean 210 to 270 million years ago. The Earth's crustal
movement "rafted" this volcanic and sedimentary debris onto the
advancing North American continent about 200 million years ago.
Later bubbles of relatively light granite rose through the sediment
to form the core of the range. This granite has since been exposed
glacier scoured out Anthony Lake's granite basin from the crest
of the Elkhorn Range relatively recently, during the Ice Age 6,000-20,000
years ago. Today there are no glaciers in Eastern Oregon. Instead,
subalpine firs and wildflower meadows ring the lake. Still, exposed
patches of granite often exhibit "glacial polish," shiny surfaces
where the weight of grinding ice has polished the rock as smoothly
as a granite tombstone.