Elk Creek Trail #1944 - Wallowa Mountains, Union, Oregon

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11.04 miles (17.77 km)

Total Elev. Gain:
3,451 ft. (1052 m)
Total Elev. Loss:
-4,075 ft. (-1242 m)

Max Altitude:
7,956 ft. (2425 m)
Min Altitude:
4,879 ft. (1487 m)
by Brian Sather — Posted Mon, Jul 10, 2017
This is a long up and over of Burger Pass that gives you a fill of the basics that the Eagle Cap Wilderness offers. At the pass you are greeted with a breathtaking view of the entire range. Then you descend past some lush meadows, Burger Meadow being the first. When the trail starts zig zagging down the flank of China Cap you actually hike over small waterfalls on the trail and then meet up with Elk Creek for a few crossings and then follow it straight down through the thicker woods to the Minam River. There you will find a sturdy bridge crossing the pristine Minam River and meet up with the upper Minam River Trail on the other side. The Granite Trail isn't too far upstream from the bridge. The first part of the trail is a relatively popular hike for Burger or China Cap summits, which both offer some great views into the Wallowas. The trail is also used quite a bit in the fall for hunters to access the Elk Creek area. There are a couple tricky trail intersections before Burger Pass. You'll stay right at both. The next two intersections are for Sand Pass Trail and Tombstone Lake Trail, stay left at both of those. There has been a re-configuring of trails when the Buck Creek Campground was built. Some old trails spur off of this that were the original access points, but now you start right on top of the ridge at a higher elevation and head straight up to Burger Butte. A northwest forest pass is required. The campground is more of a parking lot for trailers. It has a vault toilet but no water at all.

 Junction Sand Pass Trail — 45.144710, -117.509430
 Burger Pass — 45.145660, -117.513660
 Bridge of Minam River at Elk Creek — 45.180250, -117.463120
 Junction Tombstone Lake Trail — 45.146570, -117.494200
 Avalanche Debris & First Water Source — 45.146100, -117.528140
 Ford of Elk Creek — 45.154830, -117.482430
 Buck Creek Campground — 45.148150, -117.572480

View east into the Minam from the trail.
Buck Creek trailhead and campground
Huckleberries line the trail to start.
First trail intersection where you go right, isn't too far into the trail.
Burger Pass looking toward Granite Butte, Mule Peak, and Sand Pass.
Granite Butte from Burger Pass.
Looking west toward Squaw Creek.

Burger Meadow
Hiking up toward Burger Pass on the east side of the ridge (hikers going opposite direction back up to Burger Pass)
Meadow at Elk Creek with the ridge above Tomstone Lake seen in the background.

Tombstone Lake Trail intersection
Plan on some trees across the trail.

Trees get thicker farther down Elk Creek.

Minam River
Bridge over the Minam.