Chief Joseph Mountain is the large massif south of the town of Joseph. This mountain is the northern extent of a ridge which includes Hurwal Divide, and continues southernly towards Sacajawea Peak and the Matterhorn further southeast. This is the high ridge of the Wallowa Mountains, with Sacajawea, Matterhorn, and Hurwal all topping 9700 feet.
Peaking through the clouds
This mountain is named after Chief Joseph. 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. Both routes can be done in a day, but require at least 4500 feet of elevation gain.
Snowy Summit Ridgeline
The summit log indicates that three or four parties make the ascent each week during the summer.
Access 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 One can use the Chief Joseph trail which is no longer maintained and missing bridges, or a network of informal trails which depart from Wallowa Lake marina parking lot and intercept the Chief Joseph trail. These informal trails are the preferred route for most Chief Joseph climbers.
Red Tape - Camping
Nearing the Summit
A Northwest Forest Pass 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.
A 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
When To Climb
Based on the summit log most ascents occur during the the summer months of July - September, however winter ascents are possible. Be aware there are avalanches in the gullies which typically have massive cornices at their tops even late into spring.
The US Forest Service has a Wallowa Mountains Visitor Center in Enterprise. (541) 426-4978
As seen on Peakbagger.com
, Chief Joseph Mountain is the 12th highest mountain summit in Oregon. Adjoining Hurwal Divide is the 7th highest Oregon Peak, and across Thorpe Creek Sacajawea Peak is the 6th highest and the highest mountain in Oregon east of the Cascades.
The summit formationSeen in the image below, the classic south face view from lofty Sacajawea Peak. Seen from Hurwal Divide