Blue mountains trail Maps
The Blue Mountains Trail is still a route in the making. It has been compiled with the best current information, but the trail route is subject to change. While travelling the trail, be prepared to encounter challenging terrain with poor trail conditions, including some unmarked cross country sections through forests and dense vegetation.
The following maps are meant to provide an overview of the trail's route through the Blue Mountains. They have been prepared in partnership with Conservation Geography and Mitchell Geography, and they were developed with the generous support of Travel Oregon. Information on how to acquire detailed hiker maps, and examples of those maps, is provided at the bottom of this page.
overview route map
The Blue Mountains Trail overview map highlights the full route from Joseph to John Day. Each section, including the section start and end points and section mileage, are identified.
The overview map demonstrates the elevation gradients and extensive forest canopy found in the Blue Mountains Ecoregion. The main route is shown using the solid red line, and alternate routes are shown in red dashed lines. The trail towns, national forests, wilderness areas, Hells Canyon National Recreation Area, and the mountain ranges of the Blues and the mainstem rivers and major tributaries of Northeast Oregon, are all prominently featured on the map.
Clicking the button to view the fullsize map will open a pop-up window with a high resolution version that can be panned and zoomed.
Section 1: 59.7 Miles
The first section of the Blue Mountains Trail officially starts at Wallowa Lake State Park outside of Joseph and continues for 59.7 miles to PO Saddle on the western rim of Hells Canyon, a few miles past the Hells Canyon Overlook.
Highlights of this section are the Eagle Cap Wilderness, crossing Hawkins Pass, and the headwaters of the South Fork Imnaha River. The trail crosses the bone cold Imnaha River and climbs to Sugarloaf Mountain, continuing east along a quiet section of the Wallowas. Hells Canyon Overlook provides amazing views of Hells Canyon and is a convenient place to arrange for a resupply before embarking on the Western Rim Trail. Anticipate some challenging wayfinding and the Imnaha River crossing in the early summer can be fast. Plan for longer water hauls between Duck Lake and Hells Canyon Overlook.
Section 2A: 60.6 Miles
Section 2 of the Blue Mountains Trail runs for 122 miles from PO Saddle to Troy, the location of the next official resupply point. It's a long way to go between resupplies in rugged country, so we recommend arranging a resupply at Buckhorn Overlook, 60.6 miles from the start of Section 2; this is Section 2A.
The length of this section traverses the Western Rim Trail through the Hells Canyon National Recreation Area. From Fingerboard Saddle, hikers can opt to hike down to the Snake River in the heart of Hells Canyon at Dug Bar, and from here the trail picks up the Nimiipuu Trail (Nez Perce National Historic Trail), the route that Chief Joseph and the non-treaty bands of the Nez Perce followed in their tragic flight from the Wallowa Valley in 1877. This breathtaking terrain is very sun exposed, but water is more plentiful than you might expect. Plan for a long descent to the Snake River and steep climb up Cemetery Ridge to Buckhorn Overlook. Be prepared for rattlesnakes and poison ivy along Dug Creek.
Section 2B: 60 Miles
Section 2B continues from Buckhorn Overlook to the town of Troy. While Troy offers almost no services, resupply boxes can be mailed to Troy Resort.
From Buckhorn Overlook to Vigne Campground there are two alternates; the north alternate is more direct but along a relatively busy gravel road, and the south alternate touches along the northern part of the Zumwalt Prairie. Joseph Canyon is the birthplace of Chief Joseph and the focal point of our Camas to Condors work. The main route descends to the foot of Joseph Creek by a steep cross country route. The alternate route shown through the Nez Perce Precious Lands is not recommended. Views from Table Mountain above Joseph Canyon, and exploring the largely intact and rarely visited forests in the northern sections of the Wallowa Whitman National Forest, offer a memorable journey through the Nez Perce homeland.
Section 3A: 50.3 Miles
Section 3 of the Blue Mountains Trail runs for 102 miles from Troy to La Grande. However, there is an opportunity to resupply in Tollgate, the endpoint of Section 3A. This section has multiple alternates to avoid trails that are currently closed or largely impassable due to recent fires and floods.
Leaving Troy, the trail enters the Wenaha River Canyon in the Wenaha-Tuccannon Wilderness. This trail is both spectacular and incredibly challenging. Currently, the only advised route is to leave the canyon on the Hoodoo Trail, requiring a potentially difficult water crossing that runs knee-deep at its lowest flows in late summer. Continuing on the main route on the Wenaha River Trail requires hiking through substantial poison ivy. The alternate gravel road walk along the southern rim of the Wenaha River is still beautiful and offers plenty of solitude. The South Fork Walla Walla Trail is also currently closed, but we anticipate the trail will be reopened to hikers in the coming years.
Section 3B: 51.2 Miles
From Tollgate, Section 3B of the Blue Mountains Trail continues south through the Umatilla National Forest to the trail's midpoint in La Grande.
The trail traverses the North Fork Umatilla Wilderness before meeting up with the South Fork Umatilla River at Umatilla Forks Campground. This was the site of heavy flooding in 2019, and the trail follows a washed out road that requires hiking in the river itself from time to time. An alternate allows hikers to bypass these challenges on a mix of paved roads and trails. Hiking south from Ruckel Junction, the Grande Ronde Valley commands the view to the east as the trail continues to Mount Emily, the large peak that overlooks La Grande. La Grande is the largest city on the Blue Mountains Trail, and it is also where we have our headquarters at 1119 Washington Avenue.
Section 4: 40.7 Miles
Section 4 is a short connectivity section of the Blue Mountains Trail. It is entirely on gravel roads linking La Grande to Anthony Lakes and the Elkhorn Crest Trail.
The trail traverses private lands with public access, including lands owned by Hancock Forest Management, before reconnecting with the Wallowa Whitman National Forest along Ladd Canyon Road. This road continues to Anthony Lakes, passing along Anthony Butte and Grande Ronde Lake, the headwaters of the Grande Ronde River. This section can be completed in two days with easy camping options along the road. From Anthony Lakes, a shuttle can be arranged to Baker City or to Marble Pass.
Section 5: 34.1 Miles
While Section 5 is the shortest section of the Blue Mountains Trail, it is also one of the most spectacular. The Elkhorn Crest Trail runs east of Baker Valley, and the western slopes of the Elkhorns feed the North Fork John Day River.
The Elkhorn Crest Trail is gaining in popularity, but for such a beautiful mountain trail it remains relatively undiscovered. Numerous high alpine lakes are a short hike from the main trail, with Summit and Twin Lakes being the most popular camping spots along the Elkhorn Crest. The Elkhorns are also known for the abundant mountain goat populations, sure to be encountered while hiking this section of the Blue Mountains Trail. Rock Creek Butte, the 9,106 foot high point of the Elkhorns, is easily reached from the trail. From Twin Lakes, the trail descends to Sumpter, the heart of Northeast Oregon's gold rush and mining activity that continues to this day.
Section 6: 72.1 Miles
From Sumpter, Section 6 traverses much of the North Fork John Day Wilderness and crosses over the Greenhorn Mountains near Vinegar Hill, before ending at Austin Junction on the Middle Fork John Day River.
There are numerous highlights in this section, including abundant solitude, as these trails receive very light visitation. Baldy Lake at the foot of Mount Ireland, the North Fork John Day Trail, and hiking over the Greenhorn Mountains, all offer memorable trails worth revisiting. The longest bushwhack of the Blue Mountains Trail is found in this section, necessary to avoid a large patented working mine that blocks the only road from Sumpter into the North Fork John Day Wilderness at Cable Cove. It follows the ridge along Crown Point, offering a nice scramble to a great view. Camping near Austin Junction is available at Bates State Park.
Section 7A: 53.1 Miles
Section 7 is the final section of the Blue Mountains Trail on its 530-mile journey from Joseph to John Day. The trail traverses the Monument Rock and Strawberry Mountain Wildernesses in its final section through the Malheur National Forest. Section 7A is the Monument Rock section.
Along Clear Creek, not far from Austin Junction, the trail traverses the world's largest organism, a Armillaria ostoyae mushroom network that spans 2,350 acres and consumes living trees. It is popularly known as the humongous fungus. While much of Section 7A is on gravel and 4x4 roads, these roads are seldom used. Lookout Mountain, at 8,032 feet, offers one of the best views of the southern Blue Mountains and the headwaters of the John Day River a few miles north of Summit Prairie.
Section 7B: 44.8 Miles
The Blue Mountains Trail finishes with a 45 mile hike through the Strawberry Mountain Wilderness along the Skyline Trail into John Day.
While the Strawberry Mountains have experienced many large fires in the past decade, the recreation crews at the Malheur National Forest have done substantial trail maintenance. A few bushwhacks and wayfinding challenges remain, but the trail through this section is, for the most part, easy to follow. The Strawberry Crest offers dramatic views of the John Day River basin and south to Logan Valley. The Strawberry Lakes basin, while growing more popular, is still only moderately used. Hikers can opt to summit Strawberry Mountain (9,032 feet) by taking a short detour less than one mile to the top from the main trail. The final few miles into John Day from Canyon City is along Highway 395. Efforts are underway to provide a pedestrian walking path along the highway to improve safety and accessibility.
Detailed Route Maps
We have compiled detailed hiker maps using Caltopo for the full 530-mile route, as well as additional miles on alternate trails. These maps are meant to be used with an accompanying Databook that indicates trail conditions and known water availability for each waypoint. Examples of these maps are provided below.
To obtain a copy of the Caltopo maps and Databook, please contact Pip Redding at email@example.com. Additional map resources will be added to this page as we make them available.