The Blue Mountains are a perennial addition to my summer backpacking lineup. I’m lured back over and over by the open vistas along the high ridges, intense colors at sunrise and sunset, prolific wildflowers, wildlife sightings, and some of the largest old-growth trees in Eastern Washington. The trailhead at Diamond Peak offers one of the shortest access hikes to the wilderness, where it's possible to reach the Mount Misery Trail in under a mile of hiking.
Those who want to avoid drastic elevation changes can utilize this point, then stay high on the Mount Misery Trail. For the more challenging loop hike, note that you'll return via the Mount Misery Trail, but bear left and descend the Melton Fork Trail into the Chaparral Basin, then continue down the Melton Creek Trail. Pass Crooked Creek Trail and First Creek Trail, and consider camping in the vicinity of the First Creek Cabin at around the 12 mile mark. The site is a Forest Service cabin still utilized by trail crews.
Then ford Crooked Creek and begin climbing Packer's Trail. Campsites become more frequent as Packer's Trail intersects Smooth Ridge and continues climbing to Weller Butte, and beyond that, Oregon Butte. The campsites are all located near springs, most of which are developed with stock troughs. By late summer, there is very little surface water once hikers leave Melton and Crooked Creek behind, so note the location of springs on the map and plan water stops accordingly.
At Oregon Butte the trail rejoins the Mount Misery Trail, where an enjoyable ridge hike with expansive views leads hikers back to the trailhead in 13.6 miles. Due to the number of nice campsites, this hike lends itself well to any number of days out on trail.
WTA Pro Tip: The 2015 Grizzly Complex fire was intense, and hazard trees will be an issue here for the foreseeable future. Watch for standing snags near campsites, and know there is high potential for downfall along the trail