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The Lake Creek Trail sits on the southern edge of the North Fork Umatilla Wilderness. It provides access to the Buck Mountain, Buck Creek, and Umatilla Rim trails. Features include big trees and big views as you descend into the South Fork Umatilla River drainage. Enjoy a more mild slope than some of the other wilderness trails in the area. The Lake Creek Trail is definitely beginner friendly.

  • Distance:

    Within 1.5 Hours

  • Difficulty Level:

    Day Tripper, Adventurer

  • Seasons:

    Summer, Fall

  • Elevation:

    3,200 - 4,500 feet

  • Pets:

    Yes

  • Reservations:

    N/A

  • ADA:

    No

  • Multi-Use:

    No

  • Motorized Vehicles :

    No

  • Your Public Lands

    Umatilla National Forest (Walla Walla District), North Fork Umatilla Wilderness

  • What To Do
    • Hiking

      Lake Creek Trail (#3079) is a four mile hiking and horseback riding trail that begins at the Lake Creek Trailhead and ends at its merger with Buck Creek Trail (#3073) within the North Fork Umatilla Wilderness. Along the way it crosses paths with the Buck Mountain Trail and Umatilla Rim Trail.

  • How To Get There

    Please do not solely rely on Google Maps as their route might not always reflect what is maintained.

    Lake Creek Trailhead: From Walla Walla take HWY 11 south passing through Milton-Freewater, OR and continue for five miles and turn left on Winn Road. Travel another two miles and then turn left onto HWY 204. Take HWY 204 east for approximately 27 miles and turn right on Summit Road / NF-31. Continue for five miles then turn right onto NF-3150 (sign for Lake Creek TH). Drive just over a mile and make a right onto NF-3150-035 (sign for Lake Creek TH). A small parking area is available on your right at the road gate. The trail begins just on the other side of the gate on your right.

  • When To Go

    The trail starts at 4,500 feet, which means that it will thaw out much later than the valley. Depending on the severity of the winter, expect a down tree to two and muddy conditions late spring, early summer.

  • What To Expect

    The Lake Creek Trail begins at the Lake Creek Trailhead. The beginning of this trail is heavily wooded and is outside of the North Fork Umatilla Wilderness boundary. You may encounter a mountain bike or motorcycle rider as this trail provides access to the multi-use Umatilla Rim Trail. After half a mile, it crosses paths with Buck Mountain Trail and the Umatilla Rim Trail. Keep straight to continue along the Lake Creek Trail.

    Hike roughly half a mile from the junction to meet the wilderness boundary. In another half a mile, the trail splits. Keep right to stay on the Lake Creek Trail. At this point, trade the cover of trees in exchange for views of Grouse Mountain to the north and Buck Mountain to the west. To this point, the grade has been relatively forgiving. At roughly the two mile mark, the trail begins to switchback on an exposed hillside, dropping elevation quickly. The trail narrows and expect some loose rock. The grade lessens over the next mile and a half as it goes back into tree cover to its end at Buck Creek.

    There is a primitive camp if you so desire to stay awhile. If you cross Buck Creek, the trail continues as the Buck Creek Trail, which ends at the Buck Creek Trailhead along the South Fork Umatilla River. Please note that at the time of this writing the Buck Creek Trail is heavily overgrown with brush and blocked by tree fall.

  • Fees

    None

  • Permits

    None

  • Regulations

    Wilderness regulations apply in the North Fork Umatilla Wilderness. Such restrictions include no motorized equipment, bicycles, or hang gliders to name a few. Groups larger than twelve are prohibited as well as caching or leaving equipment or supplies for longer than 72 hours. Most applicable to hikers is the fact that short cutting a switchback on any trail is also a violation of wilderness regulations. For a complete list of wilderness regulations visit the Umatilla National Forest website.

  • Amenities

    None

  • Wildlife Awareness

    We are all so fortunate to recreate in the Blue Mountains. So many opportunities exist to play outside whether in a national forest, wilderness area, on a Wild and Scenic River, and more! With these opportunities comes great responsibility to appreciate that we are mere visitors and should all take pride in being good stewards of the wild. Many animals call these protected places home, including moose, elk, bear, cougar, bobcat, and snakes to name a few. Take precautions to respect their home and understand the appropriate response should an encounter occur. Additionally, many plant species thrive in the Blue Mountains, so staying on trail is always good practice. Carry First Aid supplies to better respond to accidents or encounters, and always let others know where the day's adventure is taking you.

  • Field Notes

    Navigation: Consider downloading the Avenza Map app. This app allows users to upload three maps (or unlimited with a subscription) to use offline. It can track your location offline and overlay GPS data from the phone onto the map. The vehicle use maps (for trails allowing motorized vehicles) are the easiest to use. Otherwise, Geo Tracker offers similar tracking capabilities and additional details about your adventure. If no service, Geo Tracker will at least show your location. The Blue Mountains and surrounding area offer a remote recreating experience, and knowing your location is paramount to staying safe. Always make sure to bring paper maps. Tell others where your adventure is taking you and when you expect to return.

    Difficulty Level: Here is what we are thinking when we assign a difficulty level: Day Tripper--You don't have much experience in the area but want to get outside! Great for families of all ages. Adventurer--You know your way around the Blue Mountains and love a leisurely day outdoors. Mountaineer--You are ready for a challenge. Wild places excite you and sweat is the goal. Small children beware. Keep in mind some activities may apply to multiple difficulty levels based on usage.

    Pets: In general, pets are allowed on a leash and under control throughout jurisdictions. The only restrictions we have encountered are around swimming areas. As a best practice, be mindful of riparian habitat in general. You never know where a precious spawning area might be located. Pack it in and pack it out applies to your furry friend as well.