North Fork John Day Wilderness: Umatilla

Area Status: Open
North Fork John Day Wilderness

From rolling benchlands to the granite outcrops of the Greenhorn Mountains, the rugged North Fork John Day Wilderness provides an abundance of natural diversity. The wilderness is known primarily for its big game (Rocky Mountain elk and mule deer) and its anadromous fish habitat. There are over 130 miles of perennial streams, 40 miles of which provide spawning habitat for Chinook salmon and steelhead.

The wilderness was established by the Oregon Wilderness Act of 1984. Its 121,560 acres include 85,000 acres in the North Fork John Day drainage and three smaller satellites: the Greenhorn and Tower Mountain Units, and the Baldy Creek Unit on the Wallowa-Whitman National Forest. Six thousand acres of the Vinegar Hill-Indian Rock Scenic Area are also included. In 1988, a 39-mile segment of the North Fork John Day River was designated as a Wild and Scenic River.

The North Fork John Day Wilderness is located southeast of Ukiah, Oregon and northwest of Baker City, Oregon. The small town of Granite lies close to the eastern wilderness boundary. Over 100 miles of trails serving this area are popular for both hiking and horseback riding. The nature of the area provides long-distance trips with significant elevation changes. The area is accessible from early spring to late fall from several trail heads located around its perimeter.

The North Fork John Day drainage was a bustling gold and silver mining area in the middle to late 1800's. Old mining structures, building foundations, waterworn rock, dredged ditches, and other traces are still visible of people who removed an estimated $10 million in gold and silver.


At a Glance

Usage: Light
Busiest Season: mid Septmeber - December (hunting season)
Restrictions: Wilderness regulations apply
Closest Towns: Ukiah, OR; Baker City, OR; Granite, OR - Nearest Full Service town:  La Grande, OR or Pendleton, OR
Information Center:

General Information


Trailheads/trails that access North Fork John Day Wilderness at Umatilla National Forest

See also: 

General Notes:

Topo Maps

Anthony Lakes, Bourne, Crawfish Lake, Desolation Butte, Granite, Kelsay Butte, Mt. Ireland, Olive Lake, Pearson Ridge, Silver Butte, The Cockscomb, Tower Mountain, Trout Meadows, Vinegar Hill. Download free U.S. Forest Service Topo maps.

Buy maps online

Go to the National Forest Store.

Go to for online maps and other important Wilderness information.

Other trails within North Fork John Day Wilderness at Umatilla National Forest


River and Stream Fishing

This trail provides access to fishing opportunities.

Day Hiking


Horse Riding

Big Game Hunting

Recreation Areas

Recreation Activities