Summit Point Trail

Hike Rating: Easy
Hike Length: 6.8 miles roundtrip
Elevation Gain: 1,000’
Trailhead Elevation: 6,440’
Best Season: June through September,
       once access road is snow-free
Driving Access: Any vehicle, with care

Plus Points
• The trail ascends to a flat, 7,200'-high ridge, with overviews of the southern Wallowas
• The hike is mostly outside the Wilderness Area, but ATVs and dirt bikes are prohibited
• Panoramic vistas of the white granite Cornucopia Ridge, with its red basalt dikes
• Spring wildflowers abound, including paintbrush, gilia and acres of fragrant blue lupine
• Historical log cabin, built with expert craftsmanship, now maintained for winter ski use
• Cross-country part of the hike is easy, across the grassy flats of Little Eagle Meadows

Minus Points
• Lots of cow activity from August 1 to October 1, creating very dusty trails
• Little shade or cover on this hike, so it’s best to get an early AM start on hot days
• Afternoon thunderstorms can create a lightning hazard on the open, exposed ridge

Download (PDF, 681 KB): Photos of Summit Point Trail
Download (PDF, 726 KB): Topo Map for Summit Point Trail
Download (GPX, 1 KB): GPS Points for Summit Point Trail
Download (PDF, 799 KB): Road Map for Summit Point Trail

Trail Notes
Map of the Summit Point Trail
From the trailhead parking area at the end of Road 7715, the route climbs a jeep road north through sagebrush and scattered firs. The old road is steep and extremely dusty by late summer, due to intensive cattle use. At 0.7 miles, the road tops out on a limestone ridge and comes to a junction. The right fork leads east to the Summit Point lookout tower (staffed during fire season), but one takes the left fork leading north along the ridge line.

For the next mile, the trail climbs the west side of the ridge, through occasional stands of douglas fir, which give way to subalpine fir and whitebark pine as one gains elevation. From the open slopes, there are views west over the forks of Eagle Creek and back south over the foothills of the Powder River valley to the Elkhorn Range on the skyline. From saddles along the ridge, one can also see east over the irrigated farmlands of the Halfway-Carson valley to Idaho beyond.

Above treeline at 1.7 miles, the trail crests the 7,400' ridge and begins a gradual descent north along a fence line for about 200 yards to a wire gate (leave it as you find it). Past the wire gate, the trail keeps descending north into Little Eagle Meadows, through acres of fragrant blue lupine in Spring, with spectacular vistas of the white granite Cornucopia Ridge up ahead. At 2.4 miles (GPS Point 1), the trail comes to a long shallow pond, brimming with water in Spring, but just a dry mudhole by September. Here the route leaves the trail and strikes off cross-country to the northeast across the grassy benchlands, toward the base of the Cornucopia Ridge in the distance. It's no use following cow trails across the benchlands, as they go off in all directions — better to just walk cross-country and dead-reckon to the northeast.

Near the base of the ridge, one crosses a spring-fed creek and soon arrives at an old log cabin on a knoll about 200 yards past the creek (GPS Point 2). This well-built mining cabin dates from early 1900s and is now
used for commercial winter ski trips, under permit from the USFS. Please don't deface the cabin or take any souvenirs! East from the cabin, follow a prominent trail as it contours around the hillside for about 500 yards to an overlook at 3.4 miles, under Cornucopia Peak. This viewpoint has long vistas east over the old Cornucopia mining district to the Wallowa Mountains beyond.

Road to Trailhead
From Forest Road 77, just opposite the entrance road to the McBride Campground, turn north onto Road 7715. Follow Road 7715 for 4.6 miles to its end at the large trailhead parking area and bulletin board. Road 7715 is a fairly good gravel road, but it has a few rutted and rocky spots. Most any vehicle with normal clearance can negotiate it, taking care in the bad spots.

Camping Options
The nearest developed camping area is the McBride Campground, a quiet forest retreat along Road 77 about 5 driving miles from the trailhead. There are 6-8 sites spread out along Summit Creek that can accommodate anything from tents to travel trailers. There are double fiberglass vault toilets, picnic tables and fire rings, but no drinking water and no camping fees. This pleasant campground has lots of shade under a mixed pine-fir forest and is also fenced to exclude cattle.

For tent campers that are self-contained with their own sanitation and water, there are a few dispersed campsites along Road 7715 leading to the trailhead. The lower elevation sites are pull-offs from the road into the creek bottom, while another campsite is found in a saddle along the high ridge, with views east into the Halfway-Carson valley.

Agency Contact: Wallowa-Whitman Natl. Forest, Pine Ranger District, (541) 742-7511

DISCLAIMER: Every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of this information, but the authors do not guarantee that it is either current or correct. The reader assumes full responsibility for any use of this information, and is encouraged to contact local public land agencies to inquire about current conditions before traveling.

Page last updated: 12/10/14