Klamath County; Oregon Department of Forestry
Active; Currently standing
Estimated drive time from Portland, OR.
June 26, 2022
National Historic Lookout Register.
Day 2/10: Lookout Road Trip 2022
My partner, for some reason, only brought one 32oz water bottle with him for the day and had easily drank it all on our hike to Soda Mountain. We were headed east on HWY-66 towards the community of Pinehurst, but we needed to find water if we wanted to continue on to Parker Mountain. We stopped near the Green Springs Inn & Cabins to see if there was anywhere to fill up. It had a small information center dedicated to the Cascade-Siskiyou National Monument, but no one was inside. The BBQ restaurant attached to the Inn was closed too, but they had an accessible water fill station outside. Thank you Green Springs Inn! We came to the conclusion on our drive to Parker Mountain that HWY-66 is one of the sleepiest highways we’ve ever driven. You might pass one car every 10 minutes. There will be a sign from the highway for the needed turn to Parker Mountain L.O. It is otherwise an unmarked junction. Once off the highway, we immediately passed through an open gate to a four way junction. I believe the gate is closed seasonally during the winter. This is unsigned but you will want to continue straight. We followed this road to another junction that was surprisingly signed for Parker Mountain. It looked like a fairly new sign too. If for some reason the sign isn’t there, you will want to take the road to the right. The road starts to deteriorate after this junction with larger rocks to avoid. We decided to park near the sign and walk the remaining mile and a half to the lookout.
We started hiking during the hottest part of the day. I had to take a much needed break in every patch of shade I found. It felt like it took us forever to get anywhere. There are some spurs leading off of this road, but I felt it was fairly obvious which road you need to stay on. Parker Mountain was one of the few lookouts during this trip that was supposedly staffed. We eventually came to the gate and found it was open. Just past the gate you will get your first glimpse of the lookout. It appeared to be open for the season. As we got closer, we approached with caution. We never want to disturb the fire attendant or make them feel like we are invading their space. Turns out it was all for naught since no one was there. Though, there were signs of someone recently being there and the cab had been opened up. We speculated that they were either on their day off or hadn’t started their season yet. Either way it gave us free range to climb the tower and explore the summit fully. The catwalk was still locked, of course, but we were able to get a pretty good view from the highest landing. It was nice to be on a summit without a bunch of communication equipment for a change. I really enjoyed the sizing of the staircase on this lookout too. The steps weren’t as narrow or steep as other towers. There was also a water barrel and trough located under one of the trees for the wildlife. It was fun to watch all the different little birdies come down to take a drink. After Parker Mountain, we decided to head back to camp for a quick dinner in between lookouts.
The first Fire Lookout was constructed on Parker Mountain in 1934 by the CCC. It was a 50′ round timber tower with a steeply pitched roof. John Colvard of the Klamath Forest Protective Association primarily staffed this lookout for almost 20 years until he passed away in 1952. He previously worked on Calimus Butte for 3 years when it was used as the main fire lookout for Klamath Indian Reservation. In 1956, the previous tower was replaced by a 30′ steel tower with 14×14 wooden cab. In 1965, Parker Mountain was considered one of four lookouts located on Weyerhaeuser Company land. They allowed a permit for the Klamath FPA to continue maintaining and staffing the existing lookout. Eventually, it was managed and operated by the Oregon Department of Forestry. I’m not sure when exactly the land and Fire Lookout changed hands though. There was an old 16×24 living quarters cabin that was purposefully burned in 1968 due to being unusable. The steel tower was damaged by an arsonist in 1995 and needed to be replaced. In 1997, the existing lookout was constructed by the Steve Burrows Construction Company. It is an ODF design with 40′ steel tower and 15×15 wood cab. It is still actively staffed every season.
5 thoughts on “Parker Mountain L.O.”
Another popular winter snowshoe or ski destination.
I would’ve loved to see this one in snow!