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Rock Creek Butte and Elkhorn Peak, Oregon (9106, 8931 ft)

Rock Creek Butte from Elkhorn Peak
Rock Creek Butte from Elkhorn Peak
Elkhorn Peak from Elkhorn Crest Trail
Elkhorn Peak from Elkhorn Crest Trail

Wallowa-Whitman National Forest
Twin Lakes Trail #1633
Summitpost (Rock Creek Butte)
Summitpost (Elkhorn Peak)

Description: Elkhorn Mountains

Rock Creek Butte is the highest point in the Elkhorn Mountains. The Elkhorn Mountains are described in Skovlin, et al.:

"This mountain range is composed of granitic and metamorphic rocks of the same ages, generally, as rocks of the Wallowas. It was a prosperous mining region beginning in the early 1860s with the gold discovery at Griffith Gulch and the founding of Auburn. The resulting gold rush brought a substantial nonindigenous population to the Blue Mountains, generating ranching and farming, as well as towns to support them. The mining districts and their prospects have been well described in the bulletin, The Gold Belt of the Blue Mountains of Oregon (Lindgren 1901), which also treated geology and mines in the southeastern part of the Wallowa Mountains."

"The Elkhorns begin 3 to 5 miles southwest of Baker City and continue in a northwesterly direction for about 20 miles culminating in a butte called Chicken Hill in Union County. Like the Wallowas, this ridge is composed of granodiorite surrounded by foothills of basalt origin."

"Boom towns that have sprung up and collapsed because of local mining activities include Sumpter, Granite, and Bourne. A branch line from Baker City, the Sumpter Valley Railroad, tapped the mining and lumbering resources of this region for many years."

Route: Twin Lakes Trail

Take Highway 7 approximately 21.5 miles from Baker City to Forest Road #6550 (Deer Creek Road) just before McEwan. Follow this road to the junction with road #6540. Continue straight on 6540 (don't follow #6550 to the left) for 0.5 mile to a 4-way intersection and continue straight on Forest Road #030. High-clearance vehicles are recommended from this point to the trailhead (three miles). The trailhead sign is about 0.25 mile before the end of the road. The road steepens here and one may wish to park near the sign where there is room for a few vehicles.

Climb the Twin Lakes Trail up to the lake basin and past Twin Lakes, the switchback up the valley headwall to the Elkhorn Crest Trail. Turn right on this trail a short distance to access the ridge leading to the summit of Elkhorn Peak. Return to the Elkhorn Crest Trail and follow it north until you can access a ridge leading up Rock Creek Butte.

Reference

  1. Bond, Barbara I., 75 Scrambles in Oregon: best non-technical ascents, The Mountaineers Books, 2005.
  2. Sullivan, William L., 100 Hikes/Travel Guide: Eastern Oregon, Navillus Press, 2002.
  3. Skovlin, Jon M.; Strickler, Gerald S.; Peterson, Jesse L.; Sampson, Arthur W. 2001. Interpreting landscape change in high mountains of northeastern Oregon from long-term repeat photography. Gen. Tech. Rep. PNW-GTR-505. Portland, OR: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Pacific Northwest Research Station. 78 p. Links: cover_to_pg_9, pages_57_to_67.

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