Malheur National Forest
Active; Currently standing
Estimated drive time from Portland, OR.
May 28, 2022
National Historic Lookout Register.
There are a surprising lack of dispersed camp spots off of the main four and two number roads in this area of the Malheur NF. We didn’t have a lot of day light left after visiting Dry Soda L.O. and Frazier Point L.O. Normally, we’d take the time to bump down every little spur that looked like it had potential until we found one that we both liked. We headed towards our next destinations in hopes that there would be a camp close to both. We eventually found one a few miles from the Antelope Mountain access road around 7:30PM and set up camp for the next two nights. After spending all day in a rain cloud, we were surprised that it had seemed to have cleared off for the evening. We were even able to muster up a nice camp fire before passing out. There was more rain in the forecast for tomorrow and we wanted to savor it while we could. My phone alarm abruptly woke us up the next morning at 6AM. I had forgotten to turn if off from the previous morning. We debated going back to bed for a few more hours but there were clear skies outside of our tent that told us to get up. We decided to get up and catch the nice weather while it was here.
I made us a hearty breakfast of eggs, bacon, and potatoes to fuel us for the day ahead. Our plan was to head up to Antelope Mountain and Crane Point. We were camped very close to Antelope Mountain and it only took us a few minutes to reach the spur. The most direct route here is NF-14 to NF-1663 to NF-534. NF-534 is located just past the four way junction where NF-14 and NF-1663 meet. There is a sign for Antelope Mountain at the junction that makes it seem like you just need to continue straight on NF-1663 but you will need to turn right on to the first spur. The road up to Antelope Mountain was in great condition up until the last quarter mile. There seemed to be fresh gravel on this road as well. If you are driving a low clearance vehicle, you will want to park just before the fresh gravel ends and walk the remaining distance. There is no gate to stop you from continuing up the road, but the large rocks might.
We were surprised to see an SUV driving down the road when were parking to walk. We’ve hardly ever ran into anyone else while visiting fire lookouts unless they are off of a hiking trail or actively staffed. It was also still relatively early in the morning, we were on the summit before 9AM. Besides Steliko Point L.O., where we were physically staying in the lookout, this is probably the earliest we’ve been able to reach a fire lookout. It looked like the Forest Service had been up here recently prepping the lookout for the season. The shutters had been removed and were still on the catwalk. A ladder was also on the catwalk to gain access to the solar panel. Antelope Mountain is quite a ways out there, you can even see the edge of where the forest ends from the summit. We appreciated the nice break in weather that provided some decent views, but didn’t stay too long. We wanted to head on to Crane Point before anymore clouds rolled in for the day.
Antelope Mountain L.O. was first established in 1930 when a 30′ tower and L-4 gable roofed cab. This original lookout was unique in that it didn’t have a catwalk. A 16’x18′ garage was constructed on the summit in 1934. An inspection of this lookout was done in 1966 which found many deficiencies that needed repair or replacement. In 1974, the Forest Service put out a bid for work to move the lookout structure from Lake Butte to Antelope Mountain and remove the existing. The lookout on Lake Butte was a 16’x16′ R-6 flat top cab with catwalk and 31′ tower. The work was awarded to the Emert Industrial Corp from Clackamas, OR. They were able to complete this work in the fall of 1974 by loading the tower on a lowboy and the house on a flatbed truck. They used an 80′ boom truck to lift the house back on the tower once they reached Antelope Mountain. The pictures from relocations are some of my favorites from the archives online. Nothing looks quite as out of place as a fully intact lookout cab on the back of a small truck. Antelope Mountain continues to be staffed every summer due to it being one of the most southern lookouts in the Malheur NF that covers the driest portions of the district.
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