Hiking on the roof

The Wallowa Mountains get all the attention as Eastern Oregon’s great hiking and backpacking destination, but if you actually go there you’ll drive right by the similarly scenic, much more accessible Elkhorn Range.

So skip the crowds at Joseph and Wallowa Lake. Forget the long, dusty trudges hiking up to the high country of the Wallowas.

At Anthony Lake in the Elkhorn Range you can drive a paved road to over 7,000 feet of elevation, where you begin your hike in the alpine wildflower meadows and granite lake basins you came to see.

An easy 2.9-mile loop from Anthony Lake’s campground takes you to the Hoffer Lakes, with scenery that shames the Wallowas. An 8.2-mile loop circles Gunsight Butte, with views of three more alpine lake basins.

If you’re a backpacker, trek the entire Elkhorn Crest Trail 22.8 miles to Marble Pass. It’s a magnificent stroll along the roofline of Eastern Oregon, following the top of the Elkhorn Range.

A glacier scoured Anthony Lake’s granite basin from the crest of the Elkhorn Range during the Ice Age. Today subalpine firs and wildflower meadows ring the lake, framing its reflection of craggy peaks.

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