Sunday, June 22, 2014

Hitting the Trail Near Elgin, OR

We stayed in the small town of Elgin, OR and the focus is more farming and ranching, not hiking. The local visitor center was no help in the trails department and the La Grande Forest Service office did not have printouts of very many trails in the area. We aren't interested in buying forest service maps of every area we much research ensued based on conversations with rangers and some hikers at a La Grande sports gear shop. Here's what we came up with for hikes relatively near Elgin:

Umatilla Rim Trail/Nine Mile Ridge Trail

This turned out to be an easy hike with big views from the Umatilla Rim and a walk through some very pretty forest. We hiked North on trail 3080, nice and flat for about 2 miles with excellent views and wide open meadows with loads of flowers (and more to come in the next few weeks), then about 1.5 miles West on trail 3072 with a slight downhill grade through lovely green forest. Below is a photo of the map at the trail head because I couldn't find much info on the web about this particular trail head.

There were hundreds of elk tracks, but no elk to be seen, just one deer. We also kept our eyes peeled for bear, and had our bear spray handy, but did not see any. This link tells of a bear sighting here a few years ago.

Directions to trail head: From Elgin drive North on hwy 204 about 14 miles. Turn left (West) onto Summit Rd., aka FR31, and go a few miles until you see a sign for the Umatilla Rim Trail. Turn right and park at the trail head which says it is the Nine Mile Trail Head.

Big views to the West.

Strange fungus...the largest bubble is still a little smaller than a dime.

Bear Creek Trail

For our next hike we headed East on Hwy 82 to the tiny, cute town of Wallowa, then into the mountains to Bear Creek Trail. This trail follows raging Bear Creek for many miles, we hiked about 3.5 miles before we turned around. The trail runs through pretty forest, with a few ups and downs always within sight or earshot of the "creek"...this creek is huge. Perhaps the person who named it saw it at the end of summer during a dry year! A tasty finale to this hike was an Oregon Berry Shake at the Little Bear Drive-In in Wallowa.

Bear "Creek" surrounded by lush forest and some pretty steep rock walls.
Lots of neat fungus on this trail!
A Rubber Boa! We saw two of these...had we known how docile they are we might have picked one up!

For our last adventure in NE Oregon we took the advice of our host at Hu-Na-Ha RV Park and checked out Growiser, a native plant conservation area. We were a few weeks late for peak bloom viewing but the grounds themselves turned out to be an interesting, unexpected delight. If you go, look for the small Visitor Parking sign just North of the large wooden Growiser sign.

When we parked at Growiser the sun hit the truck in such a way that Hans saw some prints on the right rear of the truck bed. It looks like a small bear must have tried to peek in the bed of the truck while we were out on our hike the day before at BEAR Creek!

Those are definitely small bear prints...nothing else looks like that!

Though there were still some blooms on the meadows, a few weeks ago this was exploding with flowers.
The views into the Elgin and La Grande valleys were excellent.

We discovered several stone circles on the property.
Each of these stones were topped with a beautiful crystalized rock.

This chunk of pink crystal had to weigh at least 200 lbs.
It stood in a lovely forested setting with log benches all around.

A serene sitting area in the blooms.

It's been a wonderful week in this quiet, rural part of NE Oregon. We stayed at Hu-Na-Ha RV Park, a small city owned park in Elgin on the banks of the Grande Ronde River. At $145/week it was a bargain for full hookups, inexpensive laundry, peace and quiet, and 3 bars of 4G Verizon.

This week has only whetted our appetite for this area, we will definitely return. Both Joseph, OR and Wallowa, OR had decent RV parks in stunning settings with low monthly rates, that just might make it into our plans for next summer/fall.

Tomorrow we're off to the Columbia River Gorge where we'll spend a week in White Salmon, WA.


  1. What a beautiful find! Love those wildflowers. I think the bears want to be taken home with you :)

  2. Good thing you didn't leave the keys in the truck :)
    Box Canyon Mark

  3. Wow that "creek" is incredible! Love the rock circle and the rose quartz. It likely has a delightful history. I can see why you would return to this area, it feels wonderful.

  4. We are enjoying the coast and central OR this year, but now hope to do some RVing in the NE section of the state. The spots you have discussed look great.

  5. Sounds like a great park for some lovely hikes and some nice relaxing. I too love to find the little things on my hikes. The small things others might overlook, fungus, butterflies, tiny flowers. 9 miles is about my hiking limit since it takes me so long because I stop so much. Thanks for showing me this area that I knew nothing about before.

  6. Thanks for doing the leg work with the trail maps. I'll keep this post for future need:)

    Interesting snake buddy there! Strange looking...totally see why it is called Rubber Boa! What beautiful, unique fungi! And those crystals are gorgeous!!! You know how I love rocks. It would have been hard for me to move on.

    Glad you discovered this area. I think it may be in our fall plans.

  7. We are looking forward to seeing big skies again after spending so much time in big cities. I have bookmarked your eastern Oregon posts as this part of the state looks very inviting. Love those meadows with the crystals stacked on the boulders and that big sky shot…fabulous!