Baldy Creek Trail #1603
Length: 14 miles RT (We hiked 2.5 as a nice day hike option)
Elevation Gain: Gradual- 220 feet over the first 1.25 miles.
Notes: Vault toilet at trailhead. No water or trash service. This trail is only accessible when the Elkhorn Scenic Byway opens for the summer. Trail is in the North Fork John Day Wilderness- bikes are not permitted on the trail.
Baldy Creek trail is a long, gradual climb ending at Baldy Lake. We opted for a 2.5 mile RT day trip hike, which was very kid-friendly. In the first 1.25 miles you go over 3 fun bridges.
The trailhead starts with a footbridge of the North Fork John Day River. We visited in mid-September and the river was an excellent depth for wading (it is cold though!). The river flows much higher & faster earlier in the season, but most years it should be a good spot to play towards the end of summer.
The trail then begins a gradual climb through the woods. It's a very gentle incline and suitable for little kids. Even at midday, the trail was almost completely in the shade.
At just over a mile you reach the first crossing of Baldy Creek on this fun, log bridge.
And shortly after that you reach a 2nd crossing over Baldy Creek.
We returned to the 1st crossing of Baldy Creek and stopped there to wade for a bit before hiking back. Baldy Creek looks a bit slimy in the bridge photos, but it actually was flowing nicely with plenty of spots to stop and play. We didn't encounter any bugs in September, but I would bring bug spray for mid-Summer.
Back at the North Fork John Day, which makes a perfect spot for a picnic!
Baldy Creek Trail is just over an hour from Baker City off Highway 73 (the Elkhorn Scenic Byway). From Baker City, head up to Anthony Lakes and then continue another 12 miles past the ski resort. The Baldy Creek Trail is just past mile marker 21 and the Peavey Cabin turnoff. On your way back to Baker, I would recommend continuing along the Elkhorn Scenic Byway and passing through Granite & Sumpter. It's a beautiful drive and will only add another 15ish minutes to your drive with plenty of places to stop and stretch legs and enjoy the scenery.
*Note: The Elkhorn Scenic Byway closes between Granite and Anthony Lakes every winter. The road typically re-opens in early July, but it depends on that year's snowpack.
Turnoff to the trailhead is marked with a star. You will drive down a gravel road for .1 miles to reach the trailhead. There are several primitive camping sites by the trailhead that are popular with hunters.