Meadow Butte L.O.

Washington Lookouts


Washington State Division of Forestry


Abandoned; Currently standing

Estimated drive time from Portland, OR.

2 hours

Date visited.

June 11, 2022



National Historic Lookout Register.


Trip Report.

The weather in the Pacific Northwest the last few weeks has been nothing but rain. This is good for our fire season but has been a bit depressing for finding motivation. It seems to not matter what corner of the state you look in, you will find rain in the forecast. It has been a much wetter spring than the past few years. According to The Oregonian, it’s the wettest spring we’ve had in the past 81 years. My partner and I have surrendered to the fact that we’re just going to have to do some things in the rain since staying home does little for our mental health. I am not one to let a little rain stop me but it is that time of year where I’m ready for some sun and clearer skies. We first looked farther south towards Wagontire Mountain L.O. which seemed to have the least predicted precipitation for the weekend. We debated whether a one way 5-hour drive plus 6 miles RT hiking in potentially rainy weather was worth it for one night. On most weekends, this would be a yes from me but my motivation was severely drained. The area was also forecasted for windy conditions with potential thunderstorms. It was less than ideal after our Memorial weekend trip. On a whim I decided to look at the forecast for Meadow Butte. I was shocked to find a partly sunny forecast. This one had been on our list to revisit since our first failed attempt in November last year. We concluded that Wagontire Mountain could wait and it was time for a redemption.

November 6th, 2021 – We attempted to visit Meadow Butte on a rainy fall day. Meadow Butte is a crows nest lookout and we figured there wouldn’t be any significant views from the summit. From Trout Lake, we took the right at a Y-intersection onto the Mount Adams Recreation HWY then another right onto Sunnyside Road. If you continue straight on Sunnyside Road it eventually turns into the Trout Lake HWY. The Trout Lake HWY will take you up out of the valley into a more forested area. Once in the forested area you will want to take a left on to S-1400. The wood road sign is small, weathered, and easy to miss. You will stay on S-1400 until you reach a 6-way junction. The roads out here are poorly marked, but you will want to continue straight at this junction onto S-4210. S-4210 isn’t as good of a road and has some road hazards for lower clearance vehicles. We parked in a pull out after an unmarked spur junction. The spur is off to the right and you will want to stay to the left. I think most of the road hazards could be navigated with caution if you have the determination to drive all the way in a low clearance vehicle. We walked up the road another 1/3 of a mile to where it ends. You will pass another unmarked spur on the left but you will want to keep to the right. Once at the end of the road you will need to start walking if you haven’t already. It was elk rifle season when we went so there were already a few trucks parked here. Make sure to wear something bright when hiking during hunting season and always be cautious of where you’re traveling. We wore blaze orange beanies to help us stand out. You will walk on old decommissioned roads all the way to the summit. It is roughly 2.5 to 3 miles from this point to the crows nest. We knew the weather wasn’t going to be good, but we didn’t expect it would be as bad as it was. It started snowing on us with significant wind shortly after we started hiking the decommissioned road. We were following directions and a map from Eric Willhite’s website. You should be able to see the crows nest from your road walk but our visibility was only about 100 yards. The roads out here are not marked either. We first headed up the fourth spur off to the left based on Whillhite’s map but it seemed to head away from the butte, so my partner and I decided to turn around. We then headed up the third spur from the left but as it headed up hill we still couldn’t see any signs of a lookout. We were both cold, frustrated, and tired of being pelted in the face by snow. We disappointedly surrendered to the weather and headed back to the car.

S-1400 sign
Start of S-1400 road
End of S-4210; Park here
Start of the hike
5-way junction; continue straight
Junction with 4th spur; Head left
View up the 4th spur road
1st junction off the spur; head left
View up the left turn
Overgrown junction across the meadow from the approach; Take a hard right between the trees
overgrown junction; head up the road between the trees
This road will take you to the summit

June 11th, 2022 – We parked our car before 11AM in another pull out on the same road and walked up the remainder of the way. Our drive over was wet but the forecast called for a break in weather closer to noon. The sun made an appearance shortly after we parked and decided to stick around this time. I even had to break out my sunscreen. The old road starts out fairly overgrown and opens up into an area that has been logged significantly. Once in the clear cut, we had a direct view of Meadow Butte. This made it much easier to determine where we were headed and if we were on the right roads. You will pass three roads off to the left before you reach the correct road. The first spur off to the left looks like it climbs steeply up to Quigley Butte. The second road is at a major 5-way junction where you will want to continue straight. The third road looks like it might head towards Meadow Butte but is not the route you want. The fourth spur off to the left is the correct road. You will lose sight of the crows nest before reaching this spur. It turns out we initially had the right road during our first attempt, we just didn’t continue far enough up. We were probably less than half of a mile from it. Once on this road you will meet a couple more junctions as you climb towards the summit. The first junction is with an overgrown road off to the right, you will want to stay left. The road to the left heads up the butte and eventually provides a view of the crows nest again. You will be very close from here and have the option to bushwhack to the summit or continue on the road. We decided to continue on the road which will appear to head away from the direction you need to go and drops down into a meadow. The road is faint here but continues across the meadow. At the end of the meadow the road meets a junction which makes a sharp right turn back towards the butte. This road will take you all the way to the summit. Once on the summit, we were surprised to get decent views towards Mount Adams and the Trout Lake valley. I believe on a clearer day you would be able to see most of the high peaks. We enjoyed a late lunch while taking pictures. It’s amazing how much of it is still here after being abandoned for over 60 years. We said our goodbyes to Meadow Butte and celebrated a successful redemption on our way back to the car. Despite some ominous clouds in the distance threatening to come our way, we didn’t get rained on at all during our hike.


Meadow Butte was established in the early 1940s when an enclosed cab was built atop of a 86′ ponderosa pine tree. It was originally used to oversee railroad logging operations by the J. Neal Lumber Company until the Washington Division of Forestry took ownership in 1944. A cabin was built during this time for the lookout attendants to use as living quarters. It’s presumed they used a tent before this was built. The crows nest was abandoned in 1958 but is still standing strong. The cabin used for the living quarters was moved to the DNR compound in Glenwood and used as a storm shelter. There is also some sort of communication building and rod on the summit that look like a fairly recent addition.

2 thoughts on “Meadow Butte L.O.

    1. It is definitely the most well intact crows nest we’ve found! It’s only missing one board on the roof and the glass. The ladder does look like it is slowly detaching but for 60+ years I’d say it’s held up really well.


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