Snow Mountain L.O.

Oregon Lookouts


Ochoco National Forest; Managed by Malheur National Forest


Active; Currently standing

Estimated drive time from Portland, OR.

6 hours

Date visited.

September 5, 2021



National Historic Lookout Register.


Trip Report.

After exploring West Myrtle L.O. and Sugarloaf Mountain L.O. we decided it made the most sense to move camps the next day. Snow Mountain L.O. was in the area by forest standards but it would’ve been a long day of driving from our current camp. We drove out of the Malheur NF and into the Ochoco NF via FS-37 to FS-47 to FS-43. We drove FS-43 all the way to FS-4380 which lead directly to the lookout. We set up camp in the area and decided we had enough time left in the day to see the lookout. We figured if we were successful in seeing the lookout that afternoon, than we would have time to see Tower Point L.O. the following day. We continued up FS-4380 which was a decent road for my Civic until the last mile where it deteriorated significantly. I was able to drive within a 1/2 mile of the lookout, but it was another bumpy road that was graded over a scab and required caution. We parked in a pull out and walked the remaining distance. There were no trees on this summit and we could see the lookout from where we parked. We were surprised to find no lookout attendant onsite and the catwalk locked up. This is noted as an actively staffed lookout online and from what we could see in the windows there were signs that someone had been there recently. We speculated that the weekend fill-in attendant must have already left for the day and the full-time lookout had not arrived yet. We enjoyed exploring the summit undisturbed and what limited views we had before heading back down to the car. We did attempt to see Tower Point L.O. the next day but were unsuccessful. I ended up bottoming out on the ruts in the road and was too distraught to attempt road walking. Thankfully, my Civic only received minor damage to the heat shield.


Snow Mountain was developed as a fire lookout site in 1915 with a D-5 ground cab. They replaced the ground cab in 1930 with an L-4 cab. And later replaced the L-4 cab in 1961 with the present structure. The current standing lookout is a 10′ treated timber tower with an R-6 flat top cab. The summit also has a current Forest Service style vault toilet and communication towers. We weren’t able to climb the lookout but the views from the base would still be panoramic on a clear day.

There is a beautiful hand carved map in the Idlewild C.G. that we stopped at to fill our water containers. It notes most lookouts in this area except for West Myrtle Butte L.O. It is pretty rudimentary when it comes to the actual roads getting to these places but gives a general idea of what is in the area.

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