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  • Writer's pictureAmy Hindman

Elkhorn Wildlife Area- River Site

Difficulty: Easy

Length: 1 mile RT

Elevation Gain: Minimal

Season: April 11th-November 30th

Location: Base of Anthony Lakes Highway

Notes: No bathrooms or water. Spotty cell service. Parking permit required.

The Elkhorn Wildlife Area encompasses 10 different sites and is closed December 1-April 10 every year to protect wintering deer and elk. The rest of the year the wildlife area is open to the public. I would recommend visiting in the spring and summer; please be mindful of hunters in the fall.

View a map of the Elkhorn Wildlife Area here

Buy an ODFW parking permit here. Note this parking permit is also valid at Ladd Marsh Wildlife Area in La Grande and many other wildlife areas throughout the state. If you have an Oregon hunting license, the parking permit is included.

At the base of the Anthony Lakes Highway is the River Site, which features several primitive campsites, access to the river and a 1/2 mile dirt road that leads to a beautiful meadow, which would be an excellent spot for a picnic!

The road travels through the woods past the Elk Feeding Station and is wide and flat, making it perfect for small children. You could easily push a jogging stroller along this trail. The road takes a steep uphill turn once you reach the meadow and this is where we stop. The surrounding woods are ODFW lands and a fun place to let older kids do some exploring along the many game trails (not recommended during hunting season).

Once you pass through the gates by the parking area the river is no longer accessible, but from the parking area and campsites the river is easy to access. During the spring the river is flowing fast, but there are a few spots near shore that you can wade.

Elkhorn Wildlife Area rules:

I would categorize this as more of a nature walk than a hike, but it's easy to access and a fun place to run and play. Due to it's lower elevation, it also melts much faster than other Anthony Lakes area hikes. We came in mid-April right after it opened and all of the snow had melted.

Getting there: Take Anthony Lakes Highway from Baker City. Just after you cross the Powder River (at the base of the mountain), turn right and the wildlife area and campsites are right off the road. The trail is just beyond the green gates (use the pedestrian gate to the right). This area is closed to vehicles.

There is a sign noting "sno-park 1/4 mile" before you reach the turn.

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