Summit Point & Meadows
Updated: Nov 22, 2022
A fun adventure to a peak and meadows below Cornucopia Peak in Willowa-Whitman National Forest.
Peak Name: Summit Peak Peak Elevation: 7006′ Access: Trail and road walk up gated road Distance: 4.53 miles (round trip – includes hike to meadows) Elevation Range: 6300′ to 7400′ Ascent/Descent: +1,256 ft / -1,218 ft Trails: FS 7715, FS 7R, Cliff Creek Trail 1885 Points of interest: Summit Point, Lower Meadow and Upper Meadow (on Cliff Creek Trail) Note: This hike was an odd mix of trails/roads. If just hiking to Summit Point and back to the parking lot, it is 1.96 miles round trip. Date hike was done: 8-17-20
I was driving backroads when I saw a lookout tower at the top of a hill. I looked at my maps and there was a road it showed going up to it. The road was narrow with drop offs, but in good condition. I made it to the trailhead parking area. The rest of the road was closed off and had to be hiked up. It looked like it was only about a 1/2 mile to the top by my estimations and I really wanted to see what the view was from the top.
It was hot and very dry out. I took my daypack and trekking poles. It was a somewhat miserable hike up since it was so hot out. Plus, I think I was breathing 1/2 air and 1/2 dust on the way up. I made it to the 7,006′ summit. It’s actually named Summit Point. There was an older couple manning the lookout tower. The guy was chatty and told me what the names of everything I could see from the top. It was smoky due to wildfires in Idaho. He told me on a clear day you can see all the way down to the Steens. He told me about a meadow just at the top of the next large hill on the Cliff Creek Trail. He said it was a half hour hike to the top and that there were rolling hills covered in meadows that looked like the ones in the Swiss alps.
Even though I was pooped and it was very hot out I decided I really wanted to see it. It was a ways further than I thought it was, but I was determined to make it to the top. At the base of the last hill an animal trail went off to the side. I decided to see where it went and followed it. It took me to a lower meadow area. It was really pretty. I backtracked to the trail and hiked to the top of the big hill. Once I made it to the top I was met with rolling hill after rolling hill. It was so incredible! It was framed just perfectly by the mountains, especially Cornucopia Peak.
I turned around there and hiked back down to the trailhead. I didn’t want to get stuck in the late afternoon thunderstorms that were predicted to roll in. I met 3 hikers on the way down. I stopped and talked with one lady. She told me that a few weeks earlier the meadows were covered in purple wildflowers. She also mentioned that there was a cabin that was pretty cool somewhere in the meadows.
I’d really like to come back sometime when the wildflowers are at their peak and see that in person. I slid a few times on my way back down and irritated my knee (it was already injured) and rolled my ankles a few times. Most of the trail and road was dusty and had loose rock so it was easier to slip going down. I made it to the car and was very overheated and overexerted. I had woken up at 4am that morning and was thoroughly exhausted.
I knew absolutely nothing about this hike before doing it. It is important to note that with higher elevations, especially in the Wallowas, it’s important to watch for thunderstorms, especially in the afternoons during the summer. Less Traveled Northwest mentions that the FS 7715 and Cliff Creek Trail have lots of cattle activity during the summer months which is what causes the trail to be so dusty.
Summit Point Trailhead Coordinates: 44.97647, -117.23928
At mile 0.69 turn off for NSF 7R (Split in road for Cliff Creek Trail and FS 7R to Summit Point.) Coordinates: 44.98414, -117.24436
At mile 0.98 Summit Point peak. Coordinates: 44.98299, -117.23934
Start of animal trail. Coordinates: 44.99278, -117.24486
Good view of lower meadows. Coordinates: 44.99418, -117.24364 *Off trail on cattle trail.
Turn around on trail and start of upper meadows. Coordinates: 44.99626, -117.24770
At mile 2.45 when I turned around.
How to get there (from Halfway, OR)
Take Hwy OR-413 out of Halfway for 5.3 miles. Turn left onto W Carson Ln and proceed for 0.6 miles. Turn left onto FS 7710 and continue for 2.5 miles. Turn right on NF 77 and proceed for 0.8 miles. Turn right on FS 7715 and continue for 4.5 miles to the Summit Point trailhead parking area. The road from the trailhead onwards is gated and can only be walked up.
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