A method for establishing a secure route in a wireless network as provided improves network efficiency. According to one aspect, the method includes receiving at a first node in the wireless network a route request message from a second node, where the second node and the first node have not been mutually authenticated. The route request message is then forwarded from the first node to a third node. A route reply message is then received at the first node from the third node. The first node is then mutually authenticated with the second node in response to receiving the route reply message at the first node.