Elk Creek trail #3510 into the Mink lake basin


Me at the 4 mile mark hiking in to the Mink lake basin
Me at the 4 mile mark hiking in to the Mink lake basin

A journey for my birthday this year.  Our original goal was to hike all the way into mink lake.  But we only made it to Junction lake before we collapsed from exhaustion.  Next time we will start from a different starting point. There are a lot of mosquitoes in this area so bring lots of bug repellent

  • Trail name: Elk Creek Trail #3510
  • Distance: 7.6 miles to Junction Lake
  • elevation gain: 2000 ft  (2950 to 4970)
  • Difficulty: Difficult

Directions:
From Blue River proceed east for 4 miles on Hwy 126, turn right on Rd 19 (Cougar Dam) and continue for 22 miles, turn left onto Rd 1964 for 2.7 miles, then turn left onto Rd 456 to Elk Creek trailhead ½ mile.

Trail map in reverse direction but it shows the trail well
Trail map in reverse direction but it shows the trail well

The first three miles of the path up from the parking area are the most brutal of this climb.  1600 foot climb in just under three miles.  Well it was brutal for the two of us.  We got passed by a group up near the three mile mark and it didn’t even look like they had even broke a sweat.  After reaching the top of the plataeu the path is mostly small rolling hills for the rest of the way in.

Start of the path up the steep part


The end of the hill climb is in sight

 

Most of the path is flat the rest of the way as it alternates between central oregon dry and western Cascade forests
Most of the path is flat the rest of the way as it alternates between central Oregon dry and western Cascade forests
Mink lake sign
Mink lake sign

Just past the five mile mark you will reach a trail crossing the path.  The intersection has a well marked sign on what is each direction.  The trail to Mink lake is on the northern trail (turn left)

The first lake you come to is Rock lake.  There are no fish in the lake, but it is a nice spot to stop and take a break.
The first lake you come to is Rock lake. There are no fish in the lake, but it is a nice spot to stop and take a break.
Our camping spot for the day ended up being Junction lake
Our camping spot for the day ended up being Junction lake

By the time we made it to Junction lake we were barely moving still.  In hindsight doing a eight mile hike as our first backpacking trip was probably not my best idea.  But it was a good measure of how good of shape we are in and how far we still need to improve.  For me losing a bit more weight will make a big difference. By my 40th birthday next year I want to be in good enough shape to hike up to the top of South Sister mountain.  Which is a 11.5 mile round trip with a 4900 foot elevation climb. There are supposed to be Cutthroat and Rainbow trout in Junction Lake, but we did’t have any bite or see any raising to the surface.  We were on the shallower side of the lake so the fishing might be better around the back of the lake.  We were just to tired to walk around to the other side.

Friendly giant toad we found in the mountains
Friendly giant toad we found in the mountains
Morning on Junction Lake
Early morning camp

Day trips and hiking places in Oregon

Several great books for the local areas

Hiking Waterfalls in Oregon: A Guide to the State’s Best Waterfall Hikes

Day Hiking Bend & Central Oregon: Mount Jefferson/ Sisters/ Cascade Lakes

100 Hikes / Travel Guide: Central Oregon Cascades

100 Hikes / Travel Guide: Oregon Coast & Coast Range

We are an amazon affiliate so any support helps us make more video and articles.  If there are any video subjects or articles you would like to see please comment to let us know.

2 thoughts on “Elk Creek trail #3510 into the Mink lake basin

  1. DJ Sopor

    Hello! I don’t know if you’re still actively watching these old posts… but I’m thinking about heading to the Elk Creek trailhead this week to hike into the Mink Lake basin myself. Can you tell me what kind of shape the road was to the trailhead in? I know it’s been a few years, but I don’t have any idea if I will need a truck to get to it?

    Thanks!
    djsopor@gmail.com

    Like

    1. The road to the trail head was hard packed gravel to get to it. Unless it washed out from the river it should be an easy drive to the trail. The head of the trail wasn’t marked that well, but it is a big wide turn around area and should be easy to find.

      Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.