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Blue mountains trail

The Blue Mountains Trail is an immersive adventure through the diverse interconnected eco-regions that comprise the Greater Hells Canyon Region. The trail will take you deep into the mountains, forests, rivers, ecosystems, and communities of northeast Oregon. It shares the living history of why the Blue Mountains are ecologically unique and more parts of it deserve permanent protection.

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trail stats

530 miles through northeast Oregon from Wallowa Lake State Park near Joseph to John Day

7 Wilderness Areas and 1 National Recreation Area in 3 National Forests

Ancestral lands of the Nez Perce, Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla, and Confederated Tribes of Warm Springs

3 Oregon State Parks

Connects with the communities of Joseph, Troy, Tollgate, La Grande, Sumpter, Austin Junction and John Day, with connection opportunities to more nearby towns

Trail connects approaches to notable Blue Mountain summits: Eagle Cap (Wallowas): 9,573 ft - Rock Creek Butte (Elkhorns): 9,106 ft - Strawberry Mountain: 9,038 ft - Vinegar Hill (Greenhorns) 8,131 ft.

It’s official! In 2021, Greater Hells Canyon Council launched Oregon’s newest long-distance trail – forming a 530-mile spiral. Contemplated, mapped, and dreamed of for more than half a century by conservationists, the trail is now tangible.

 

The route links all seven of Northeast Oregon’s wilderness areas, requires no new trails to be built, limits road walks and bushwhacks, and connects hikers to the communities of Joseph, Troy, Tollgate, La Grande, Sumpter, Austin Junction, and John Day with ties to more nearby towns.

 

The pace of the past year’s work is as breathtaking as the speed of the first four thru-hikers covering rough terrain, bushwhacking alternative paths, and reporting on conditions. News of the trail’s brilliant peaks, rivers, forests, and wildlife is rippling among long distance hikers, tourism groups, communities, businesses, and conservationists.

Photo gallery

Planning your hike

We've put together some wonderful resources to help you plan to do a day hike, section hike, or do the full thru-hike of the trail. Much of the trail is ready to hike starting once the snows melt by the middle of July. If you enjoy hiking through snow on challenging terrain, you can start earlier in the season. Trail conditions vary from well maintained wilderness trails, to areas with overgrown brush, downed trees, and even a few bushwhacks. The following resource pages will help you prepare for whatever length of hike you are planning, and we are also happy to answer questions as you plan your trip. 

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Get Involved

Launching the Blue Mountains Trail has been a largely volunteer effort to date, from setting the route, creating the hikers maps and databook, and the especially the work on the trail to groundtruth the route and start our trail maintenance efforts.

There are many ways you can join the effort to build the Blue Mountains Trail into a world-class long distance route.

Join a Trail maintenance work party

Are you interested in joining a work party to maintain existing trails and build new trails along the Blue Mountains Trail and elsewhere in our mission area? We are increasing our capacity to lead more trail stewardship work alongside our partners at the U.S. Forest Service, Wallowa Mountains Hells Canyon Trails Association, and the Blues Crew. We send emails out during the field season with opportunities, and build custom work trips for larger parties. More information is available on our Volunteer page.

participate in community engagement and support

Starting in May 2022, we are hosting community engagement workshops in the towns and communities along the Blue Mountains Trail. These free workshops will include light provisions. All are welcome.

 

Currently planned workshop dates are:

Make a donation

We are raising funds to bring on a full time Blue Mountains Trail Coordinator and ramp up our trail development efforts. A gift of any size means so much. All funds will be reserved for and applied to our trail development efforts. 

Join our Newsletter and get a bmt sticker
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Sign up today for the Blue Mountains Trail newsletter, and we'll send you a Blue Mountains Trail sticker. Be the first to receive updated hiking maps and other great content and updates about the trail. We send newsletters once every 1-2 months.

You can also get photos, updates, trail alerts, and more by following the Blue Mountains Trail on Instagram.

a brief history of the trail

It began on a horsepacking trip in the 1960s, and got started in earnest in the 1970s. Then called the Blue Mountains Heritage Trail, the idea was to take a love of the Greater Hells Canyon Region and turn it into an internationally-recognized European-style hiking loop. Loren Hughes, former HCPC director and pioneering eastern Oregon conservationist, teamed up with Dick Hentze, Greg Dyson, and Mike Higgins to develop the trail and put the Blue Mountains where they deserve to be on the recreation map of the Pacific Northwest. Together they came up with an 870-mile loop around the Blue Mountains and hoped to develop a network of Bed & Breakfast Inns serving hikers in the communities adjacent to the trail.

The Blue Mountains Heritage Trail received notable press in 2010 when the first section was deemed complete. But a tragedy in Dick's life derailed the project shortly thereafter. Sadly, Loren Hughes passed away in 2016 and Dick Hentze in 2020. We are proud to be carrying on their decades of work and legacy with this new effort to make the Blue Mountains Trail a reality.

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BMT founder Loren Hughes along the rim of Hells Canyon.

For a more in-depth history of the trail, please read this article by Oregon Desert Trail Coordinator Renee "She-ra" Patrick: The Blue Mountains Trail - A 60-Year Vision Gains Momentum. Published on Katabatic Gear's blog on Nov. 6, 2020.

trail news and stories from our blog

Mazamas presents Exploring the Blue Mountains

Blue Mountains Trail Project Lead Jared Kennedy joined the Mazamas on June 8, 2022 for a virtual tour of the trail. In the presentation, he covered the background on the project, the resources that GHCC has developed to support hikers, and a detailed description of the seven trail segments, including the highlights as well as conditions and challenges thru-hikers will encounter along the way.

Following the 45 minute presentation, Jared answers audience questions. 

Oregon Adventure Lab presents Exploring the Blue Mountains

Whitney La Ruffa, Naomi Hudetz, and Mike Unger recount their experience being the first people to hike the full Blue Mountains Trail route. This video includes a brief introduction by Jared Kennedy to the trail, the region, and the work that has gone into creating Oregon's newest long distance hike. 

By hiking the full trail, Whitney, Naomi, and Mike were able to provide valuable feedback that has since been incorporated into a revised primary trail route and alternative route options.

Oregon Wild presents Breaking Ground on the Blue Mountains Trail

Renee Patrick joins Whitney La Ruffa, Naomi Hudetz, and Mike Unger with her first solo thru-hike account. Renee, Mike, Whitney, and Naomi tell how they were able to work together to groundtruth new route options and avoid hiking parts of the route that were replaced with better trails.

They are joined by Jared Kennedy and Rob Klavins, Oregon Wild's Northeast Oregon Field Coordinator and GHCC advisor. The webcast includes a useful Q&A at the end.

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Keep up with the latest trail news

The best way to stay up-to-date on the trail, including new route and map releases, stories, news, and other inspirational content, is to subscribe to our Blue Mountains Trail newsletter. Click the button to subscribe now.

For all other inquiries, please email Pip Redding at pip@hellscanyon.org.

Trail supporters

We are grateful for these organizations who's financials support is helping us make the Blue Mountains Trail a reality.

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