At 9,675 feet, Petes Point is the fifth highest named mountain in the Wallowa Range. It forms a massive east-opening horseshoe that opens on the high alpine plateau at Tenderfoot Pass and forms the northern anchor of the extensive Wallowa/Imnaha divide. Due to old moraine deposits, the east opening of the mountain drains into the North Fork Imnaha. The impressive north wall rises above Jewett Lake and the headwaters of the East Fork Wallowa River and the extensive scree slopes of the west side fall into the West Fork Wallowa River. This area is included in the Eagle Cap Wilderness of the Wallowa-Whitman National Forest.
Geologically the mountain is a complex mix primarily of the sedimentary Hurwal and Martin Bridge formations. Columbia basalts flowed across these formations and can now be found on the many of the northern mountain tops after extensive uplifting. On Petes Point the dark basalt is mostly on the northwest portion of the mountain.
The summit gets a lot of traffic as evidenced by the presence of two register boxes containing many entries. With winter outfitters nearby, this mountain probably has more winter ascents than most big Wallowa peaks.
The east running arms of the horseshoe provide two easy walk up routes to the summit from the vicinity of Tenderfoot Pass. The south arm is a longer and gentler climb, while the north arm is steeper, but shorter. Together they provide an excellent alpine loop hike on one of the Wallowa’s most massive mountains. Other more difficult routes can be had from the west and north.
From Joseph, head south into Wallowa State Park. Keep to the left (straight) just beyond the lake and continue through the tourist trap developments to the end of the road. The trailhead starts next to the information board and soon splits into the East Fork trail 1804 (straight) and West Fork trail 1820 (right). Follow the East Fork trail as if going to Aneroid Lake. Avoid turns to the left that provide access to the city water supply. The signs are worn and old, but tell the correct way to go.
Aneroid Lake is 6 miles in and provides tremendous views of the north wall of Pete’s Point and Bonneville Mountain. Some camping is available on the east shore, but be sure to respect the private property in the area. A mile south of Aneroid Lake, trail 1802 comes in from the east (left). Keep right on trail 1804 for a long mile to the Tenderfoot Pass vicinity. The two ridges of the mountain that form the arms of the horseshoe are obvious rising to the west of the flats before the pass.
Petes Point can also be accessed from the Tenderfoot Trailhead in the Sheep Creek drainage. This is found at the end of Forest Service Road 100, approximately 3 miles west of the Hells Canyon Scenic Byway. From this trailhead take the 1819 trail 6.1 miles to the junction of trail 1814. Take 1814 northwest for 1.5 miles to Tenderfoot Pass. Or 1.1 miles from the Tenderfoot Trailhead, take the 1802 trail through the Bonny Lakes basin for 5.5 miles until it meets up with the 1804, 1 mile south of Aneroid Lake.
Red TapeA Northwest Forest Pass cost $5 ($30/year) and is required to park at the trailheads. These can be purchased all all local Forest Service offices and at many area businesses.
A free wilderness permit is also required for overnight trips. These are available at the trailheads and a copy needs to be attached to your pack.
There are general wilderness regulations, but these can vary slightly depending on different areas to be visited. Specifics are generally posted at trailheads or call the US Forest Service visitor center ((541) 426-4978) in Enterprise to get the regulations for the particular places you wish to visit.
When To Climb
Most people climb the mountain from late June to October. Winter ascents are possible, but take additional skill and equipment. Snow can occur at any time of the year.
CampingExcellent camping can be found in many places along any of the approach routes. Check the information boards at the trailheads for restrictions. Generally these prohibit camping within 200 feet of lakes and streams, but regulations can vary slightly in different places.
A fully developed campground is available at Wallowa Lake.
Mountain ConditionsCurrent mountain conditions can be obtained from the US Forest Service visitor center, (541) 426-4978.