OverviewChief Joseph Mountain is part of a large massif south of the town of Joseph. It makes up the northern extent of a ridge which includes Hurwal Divide to the south; the ridge then continues to Sacajawea Peak to the southeast and the Matterhorn further southeast.
The mountain is named after Chief Joseph, obviously. The summit is called Point Joseph and consists of a unique natural formation of columbia basalt which sits on pink limestone of the Martin Bridge formation.
Access is available from the Hurricane Creek drainage to the west or the Wallowa Lake area to the east.
The summit log indicates that three or four parties make the ascent each week during the summer.
Getting ThereAccess from the west is available via the Hurricane Creek Trail. From the town of Enterprise, Oregon, go south on Hurricane Creek Road. Stay right (which is still Hurricane Creek Rd) at the Hurricane Grange. Drive past the Hurricane Creek campground to parking at the end of the road. The Hurricane Creek Trail starts at the parking lot. Follow the Hurricane Creek trail to the Thorp Creek trail (shown on USGS map, but not USFS maps). The junction is actually near where Twin Creek intercepts Hurricane Creek. Routes to Chief Joseph can follow either Twin Creek or Thorp Creek.
The other main access is via Joseph to Wallowa Lake. One can use the Chief Joseph trail or a network of informal trails which depart from Wallowa Lake marina parking lot and intercept the Chief Joseph trail.
Note that on July 8, 2003, the Chief Joseph trail was difficult or impossible to negotiate due to the BC Creek bridge washouts, slides, and blowdowns. The informal network of trails noted above avoids these obstacles.
A Northwest Forest Pass ($30 annually in 2003) is required to park in the National Forest. Free Wilderness permits available at trailheads are required for overnight stays. The gate to the marina parking lot at Wallowa Lake State Park opens at 6:00 am and closes at 9:00 pm (as of 2003).
When To ClimbBased on the summit log most ascents occur in the summer. Lightning is of concern in the Wallowa Mountains.
Winter ascents are possible, but it is apparent that there are avalanches in the gulleys, including those which must be ascended on most standard routes.
CampingA primitive campground is located at the Hurricane Creek trailhead.
A fully developed state park campground with showers and everything is located at Wallowa Lake. This is a very popular campground. It is recommended you use the link below to get a camp site reservation.
Wallowa Lake State Park