17. Elk Butte
Suggested Citation: Kerr, Andy. 2000. Oregon Desert Guide: 70 Hikes. Seattle: The Mountaineers Books. p. 125.
What to Expect: A pleasant climb through some gnarly juniper and nice grass to the summit
Distance: 5-mile loop
Elevation Range: 4,590-5,238 feet
Drinking Water: No
Best Times: Spring, fall
USGS 7.5' Map: Elk Butte
Oregon Map Starting Point: Riley
Drive southerly 37 miles on US 395 (9 miles south of Wagontire) and turn north- westerly (right) on Wagontire Road (Lake County 5-14). In about 10 miles the county road does a little wiggle and then a turn to the west-southwest. About 3 miles from said curve, turn due north (right) onto a dirt road. Head north 2.8 miles to the gate to the old cow camp. Take the fork to the right and veer eastward, then northward around the camp buildings, and very soon westward through a gate back onto public land. Park.
This exploration can be done either as a day hike or as an overnight backpack. Hike north on the unimproved way. At the fork go west and upward, eventually bagging the twin summits of Elk Butte. Nice campsites can be found both in the draws and on top. Hike the edge of the juniper northward to the flatter country. You might want to hike farther north into the large flat with several ephemeral lakes, catching the four-wheel-drive track back to your vehicle.