Jumpoff L.O.

Washington Lookouts

Location.

Mt. Baker Snoqualmie National Forest; Administered by Wenatchee National Forest

Status.

Maintained by Volunteers; Currently standing

Estimated drive time from Portland, OR.

4 hours

Date visited.

August 21, 2022

Elevation.

5,670′

National Historic Lookout Register.

Yes

Trip Report.

I’ve come to the conclusion that August is my least favorite month. It has nice longer days, but that is about all it has going for it in my opinion. It is otherwise too hot and things are usually on fire by now. This tends to mean trail closures and lingering smoke as well. My partner often says he’ll fight anyone who prefers 90 to 100 degree temps. I’ll complain about the rain, but I eventually long for it. The smell before it rains. The cooler temperatures associated with it. The fresh air that comes with a well hydrated forest. But I absolutely, whole-heartedly, never long for 100 degree summer days. Maybe I’m being dramatic, but the heat really kicked my butt this weekend. It wasn’t even forecasted to be as hot as it has been the last few weeks. We had just emerged from a one-night backpacking trip with our friends in the William O. Douglas Wilderness. We had an extra day left over for the weekend due to our friends schedules not quite lining up. It was a pretty gradual 5-mile hike out (10-miles RT), but the heat had zapped all the energy from me. Our plan was to head over to Jumpoff L.O. for another night of backpacking without friends. Based on the description from the WTA site there was a nice dry camp 2-1/2 miles into the hike to Jumpoff from Long Lake. But, I vetoed this after getting back to the car and we opted to disperse camp for the night. I needed to recoup if I was going to make the 8-mile RT hike up with over 2,500′ of elevation gain. We would later agree that this was a good call for a multitude of reasons.

Start of NF-653
Pull out parking
Long Lake
Shelter at Long Lake

From HWY-12, we headed east towards Yakima. This was the farthest either of us had been on this highway. We turned right at the junction marked for Rimrock Lake Recreation Area. This is NF-12 on the map, but there were no signs noting that on the road. We followed this paved road until we reached Milk Creed Road, NF-570, off to the left. This is a well-graded gravel road that we took to reach NF-1201. I read online that the paved portion of NF-1201 is a terrible road and this was the better route to access Long or Lost Lake. We didn’t spend much time scoping out the best dispersed spots in the area and picked one in close proximity to where we wanted to be in the morning. Our alarm was set for 5AM with the intention of starting our hike early to avoid the heat. It was still dark when the alarm went off the next morning which prompted us to reset it for 6AM. We then proceed to hit snooze until a little after 6:30AM. We weren’t up and moving as quickly as we had hoped. We turned right onto NF-1201 to head towards Long Lake. You can start the hike at Lost Lake as well but it adds an extra mile both ways that felt unnecessary for this trip. The gravel portion of NF-1201 was well graded as well and only had a few minor bumps to avoid. We parked in a pull out at the junction with NF-653, off to the left, based on a recommendation from a trip report posted to WTA. This is where we would start our hike.

First steep section looking up (sorry bad lighting)
First steep section looking down
Second steep section looking up
Second steep section looking down
Third steep section looking up (bad lighting again)
Third steep section looking down

The morning temps were still cool and bearable as we started walking down NF-653. It appeared to be a crummy spur road from the junction, but quickly turned into more of an ATV track with roots and embedded large rocks. We quickly reached the north side of Long Lake, which was blanketed in a green algae, and the notable shelter that marks the start of the route. We were surprised to see a truck on this portion of road too. It’s amazing where people are willing to drive instead of walk. From the shelter, the road continues steeply up a small hill. I had a screenshot of the trail description from WTA since many have mentioned it can be a confusing maze of roads and trails to the summit. Although, I didn’t find the route finding as difficult as mentioned, it was helpful to have for some of the way points. We also had a ranger district map for reference as well. After heading up the road away from the shelter, we were met with an immediate fork. Both routes meet back up with each other a short distance later, but the left is easier on foot. The second fork we headed left again, or straight depending on how you want to look at it. The trail you are following is an OHV trail and has no directional markings for you to follow to the summit. I thought that meant it would be similar to a road walk with some steeper sections thrown in. But, boy was I wrong! In the more gradual sections it was basically a road walk, but the steep sections were no joke. Toss in my fear of heights for good measure and this was now a challenging route for me. There were three notably steep sections that were problematic. All are within the first mile and a half before you reach Louie Way Gap. In all three sections, the road heads up at a steep angle that would be difficult even in an ATV to traverse. It is also made up of loose, rocky, and slick dirt that can make it hard to find stable footings. Heading up wasn’t great, but I knew heading down would be much worse. I took pictures for reference, but you can never quite capture the depth of field in a picture. The second steep section is avoidable by hiking cross country on the slope next to it. The ground is much more stable there than on the road. After the last steep section, we reached Louie Way Gap. It is an open field with a four way junction. I thought the hard climbing was over from here and that we’d have a gradual few miles to the lookout. Wrong again!

Louie Way Gap looking toward the road you came up
Louie Way Gap looking toward the road to Jumpoff
Louie Way Gap
Trail #1127 sign heading back down
It looked so far away from here

We turned left from Louie Way Gap on to NF-613. This is shown as trail #1127 on most maps, but it was once an old continuation of NF-613. It does eventually turn into a single track trail and is no longer drivable to any four wheeled vehicle. There were a few warning signs posted to trees about the upcoming side hill before the road deteriorated in case someone was to try it. The road from Louie Way Gap headed steeply up again. Nothing unmanageable, but it was starting to wear us down as the day was heating up. I thought this would be our final push to the gradual slopes of the Divide Ridge. but wrong, wrong, wrong I was! We found the aforementioned dry camp that had a nice view to the valley below. I would have struggled greatly with a loaded pack to make it here. I’m not sure if that is more a commentary on my fitness level or to the trail conditions. This marked that we were a little over half way there. The trail started to head down from here and the trees opened briefly to a view of our end goal. I stared on in confusion, the lookout appeared to be on a completely different ridge line from where we were. We both had the thought that we were somehow on the wrong trail, but that was impossible given that we followed all the directions. It just so happens that the trail heads down again to a saddle before the final climb. Something I completely missed when looking at the topo map. We could see where the trail crossed the exposed slope to the final ridge line, but it was a bit defeating to see. I already made it this far though, there was no turning back now. The WTA description describes the trail as Jekyll-and-Hyde conditions, which is accurate. Despite drinking water constantly, I could feel my body drying up on the final push, the actual final push, to the ridge. It stayed exposed the remainder of the way to the lookout, but was fairly flat from there. We crossed another four way junction where we headed straight. The NF-613, or Trail #1127, route eventually meets up with the drivable road NF-1302 to the summit.

I’ve read the NF-1302 road is 13 miles of rough and rocky conditions. But, they are in the process of building a communication tower on the summit which means improvements could be made. This was partially our motivation for making it up here sooner than later. We wanted to see the Fire Lookout before the area was obstructed by more communication buildings. The 100′ communication tower is already in process and the summit was littered with building equipment. We had the lookout to ourselves while we took pictures, signed the log book, and enjoyed a brief lunch. As we were finishing lunch, a couple drove up in their Jeep and greeted us on the catwalk. We asked about the road conditions and the guy said they had improved since the last time he was up there on his motorcycle. They joked that they took the easy way up in comparison. We only saw them and a group of three ATVs near the summit. We had the trail to ourselves the remainder of the time.

The hike back down was less grueling, but the heat was still giving me a hard time. I was dehydrated and dreaded descending the steep sections. The first one I ended up making it down by half sliding on my hip while I braced and stepped with my dominant foot. Mind you this is only a me problem between the two of us. My partner has little to no issues scrambling down these kinds of slopes. Yes, he’d agree it was steep and a bit sketchy, but he can at least descend while standing up. My main issue, besides just having the fear of heights, is that my center of gravity is in my ankles. It should be located somewhere like your core, but for me it’s not. Or at least I have that perception and my body acts accordingly to that perception. I typically use trekking poles to help stabilize my upper body. Anyway, this means that any time I feel unstable or like I’m going to fall I get low to find my stability. This leads to crab-walking, side-stepping, butt-scooting, or bear-crawling my way down steep loose slopes. I have no shame in getting dirty if I don’t feel safe. I’ve done it before and I will continue to do so in the future. Though I will note there have only been a few trails steep enough for me to roll around in the dirt like this. The second steep portion was once again easily avoided by cross country hiking the stable slope on the side of the road. I was already covered in dirt by the third steep section that I decided to take it low again. We made it back to the car in one piece, but not before this trail chewed me up and spit me out rotten. I conceded the car to my partner to drive us most of the way home.

History.

Jumpoff, often mistakenly labelled as Jumpoff Joe, was first established in 1923 with a D-6 cupola cabin. It was replaced by the existing R-6 flat cab sometime between 1958 and 1961. It was only sporadically staffed after the 1960s for emergencies. It fell into a state of disrepair with heavy vandalism and neglect. Starting in 2010, a group of volunteers decided to start restoring and maintaining it. Mike Hiller, who staffed the lookout during the summers of 1969 to 1973, was the driving force along with the “Friends of Jumpoff” volunteers. They completed a lot of their work by the summer of 2018. It is in better shape and still standing thanks to their efforts.

More Information.

Washington Trails Association

AllTrails

Willhite Web

TrailChick

Peakbagger

Burley Mountain L.O.

Washington Lookouts

Location.

Gifford Pinchot National Forest

Status.

Restoration in progress; Currently standing

Estimated drive time from Portland, OR.

3 hours

Date visited.

August 13, 2022

Elevation.

5,304′

National Historic Lookout Register.

Yes

Trip Report.

My partner and I weren’t as motivated to get up this morning. We planned to head to Burley Mountain as a day trip since I had family obligations on Sunday. This definitely would have been better for an overnight trip, but it’s doable as a really long day. We hit snooze a few times before grumbling out of bed around 8AM. After getting ourselves in order, we were able to get on the road before 9AM. We headed north on I-5 into Washington until it met up with HWY-12. The section of HWY-12 from I-5 to Packwood provides great access to different recreation opportunities in Central Washington. I’ve used this same highway to access Suntop Mountain L.O., Shriner Peak L.O., Crystal Lakes, Packwood Lake, and some other trips not mentioned on the blog. This time we stayed on HWY-12 until we reached the community of Randle. We turned right onto Cispus Road which also starts out as HWY-131. Shortly after crossing a bridge you will want to bear left to diverge from HWY-131 and stay on Cispus Road. We stayed on Cispus Road until we reached the Cispus Learning Center. There were a few needed turns to stay on the right road but all were marked with a sign. You can either park at the trailhead here for a 14 mile RT hike via the Covel Creek Trail or continue past to attempt a drive up. I’ve read the trail is riddled with dead fall that can be difficult to navigate. We opted to attempt a drive up to get as close as possible for a road walk. From the Cispus Learning Center the Cispus Road turns into NF-76. There are two different access routes from here. You can either turn left onto NF-77 or NF-7605. I read that NF-7605 is a rough high clearance only route, so we opted for NF-77 that is partially paved. There is a sign for Burley Mountain at the NF-77 junction that notes it at 16 miles away. I zeroed my odometer here.

Sign at NF-77 and NF-76 Junction
Sign at NF-7605 and NF-77 Junction
Landslide over NF-77
NF-086 sign
Sign at NF-086 and NF-7605 Junction

The NF-77 road might be paved, but it is not a good road. My partner and I have found that paved roads in the forest tend to be worse than gravel. Any deterioration, pothole, or washout becomes significantly more treacherous with broken pavement. They just don’t see the maintenance needed to stay in decent condition. We were on pavement until the road reached a junction with NF-7708. After NF-7708, the NF-77 road turns to gravel and the conditions improve significantly. There were still a few potholes to avoid and a section that was covered by a landslide, but it all felt like gliding over silk in comparison. Eventually, we came to a four way junction that was signed. The sign noted Burley Mountain was only a mile away. Not only is this sign incorrect on mileage, but if you’re not paying attention you could head down the wrong road. We took a left onto NF-7605 at the junction, which is marked by a road sign. I was worried about the conditions along NF-7605 and that we’d get stuck in a tricky situation. While my partner was worried about not having enough time for a long road walk and getting back late. But, I was motivated to get in some hiking miles since we seem to be doing more driving than walking these days. I pulled us over in a pull out shortly after heading up NF-7605 and we started our road walk. My odometer read that we drove 14 miles. We walked along NF-7605 for at least a mile or mile and a half until we reached the junction with NF-086. There is another sign here for Burley Mountain that says it’s only a mile away. Deja vu! This time it was accurate. After walking along NF-7605, we realized the Civic could have made it to the junction with NF-086. I wouldn’t drive a low clearance vehicle on NF-086 though.

The final mile to Burley Mountain was hot, dusty, and exposed. It’s a narrow road with steep drop offs and is fairly busy to vehicle traffic. I would proceed with caution if you decide to drive the road. There is no where to pass on certain sections if you meet oncoming traffic. There was a dirt bike and truck heading down as we were walking up. The only people on the summit when we arrived was an older couple from Nevada that had parked in a lower pull out. We briefly spoke to them because they had initially been trying to find the alternate trail to Angel Falls. This is a hike that starts at the trailhead by the Cispus Learning Center. They had heard the bridges were washed out and wanted to try from the Burley Trailhead. Instead, they had accidentally ended up all the way up here after following their GPS. I’m not sure if by Burley Trailhead they meant where the trail meets up with NF-7605. But, if they did, it would have been a long and steep hike down to the waterfall. I asked if it wasn’t a ford-able creek, but it sounded like they only read online about the bridge washouts and didn’t check it out for themselves. We couldn’t offer them much more information than that since we walked the road instead of the trail. We wished them luck as they headed back to their truck and we continued to check out the lookout.

As far as I had known, Burley Mountain was still available for overnight stays on a first-come first-serve basis. We had even talked about potentially doing that, but we were dissuaded by the popularity of this area. We had read of reports from people driving up at all hours of the night which would, personally, freak me out. But, after seeing the condition of the lookout it is obvious that this is no longer an option. There were signs posted on it from the Forest Service stating it was currently under restoration work and being proposed for the rental program. You can tell it was recent work too. The windows were gone on one side and it looked like there were new wall supports added. The stairs had been removed and it looked like there was work being down on the foundation as well. Inside the lookout there is still a logbook to sign and a hand written note stating that the USFS is planning restoration work for the Summers of 2022 and 2023. We had the summit to ourselves after the couple from Nevada left and enjoyed a late lunch at the picnic table. It seemed we were getting lucky on our timing visiting some of these busier Fire Lookouts. We didn’t see anyone else until we started to head back down the road. A truck, 4-runner, and two dirt bikes proceeded to pass us all within our walk back down NF-086. We didn’t get back to the car until close to 4PM and home until around 7PM. It was a long day.

If you have any questions about the Burley Mountain project, you can e-mail matthew.mawhirter@usda.gov or call the Randle ranger station.

History.

Burley Mountain started as a fire camp in the 1930s back when the forest was known as the Rainier National Forest. In 1934, a 14’x14′ L-4 ground cab was built on the summit and still stands today. It offers views to Mount Rainier, Mount Adams, Mount Saint Helens, and even Mount Hood. It was actively staffed every summer until 1974 when it was subsequently abandoned. It had been vandalized and neglected over the years, but was updated in 1984 by a group of Volunteers and Forest Service employees. The most recent restoration work was completed in 2009 by FFLA member Dick Morrison and volunteers. For a long time, it has been open to the public for first-come first-serve overnight stays. But, it seems even with the love of the community this Fire Lookout has fallen into bad shape once again. Possibly due to the popularity of the area and the ability to drive up. The Forest Service has taken restoration work into their hands once again to potentially add this on to their rental program. We will see if their venture is successful. I’d personally recommend adding a gate.

More Information.

US Forest Service

Washington Trails Association

AllTrails

Suntop Mountain L.O.

Washington Lookouts

Location.

Mt. Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest

Status.

Staffed by Volunteers; Currently standing

Estimated drive time from Portland, OR.

4 hours

Date visited.

August 6, 2022

Elevation.

5,280′

National Historic Lookout Register.

Yes

Trip Report.

Every year I like to plan a camping trip for my friends and I, or at least for the ones that are interested in camping. It started as a tradition with my friend, Anjelica, at South Beach State Park in 2016. It was the first time we came to the realization that we could plan a camping trip without our parents. It was just us and her boyfriend at the time. In 2017, it really took on its true form as a girls trip when two more friends joined us. During that trip, on a hike, there was a trail sign that someone had carved in the words “Lost Boys” and the year they were there. We joked that we were now considered the Lost Girls. Since then our little group of four has managed to go camping every year (minus a year for the Pandemic) and we still jokingly refer to ourselves as the Lost Girls. I always try and pick somewhere new for us to explore when planning. It generally ends up being in central or northern portions of Washington since we are split between Portland and Seattle. This year was a bit different since we had two more friends and three dogs joining us. The campground I picked this year, Silver Springs, was in the Mt. Baker-Snoqualmie NF and close to plenty of recreation opportunities. I didn’t expect to explore as much as we usually do just based on the logistics of getting us all around. Traveling with dogs immediately cuts out any trail options in the National Park too. Out of curiosity, I decided to look at the potential Fire Lookouts in the area. I saw we were really close to Suntop, which is just outside of the National Park with a great view of Mount Rainier. I recommended it to my friends who all seemed to be down. Step one in slowly tricking my friends into going to Fire Lookouts. I was still skeptical we’d be able to round up everyone for the caravan and short hike though. But, even after we all made it to camp they seemed motivated to make it happen. Not that any of them read this blog, but thanks friends!

We left camp around late-morning on Saturday with a two car caravan. I made the mistake of not bringing a map or doing much research on the route needed to get there. That’s on me, but I truly didn’t think it was going to happen. Luckily, I had a vague idea on where we needed to turn from looking at the route prior to the trip and guessed correctly. From HWY-410, we headed north and turned left onto NF-73. There wasn’t a sign for this road, so it would have most likely been a guessing game regardless. We were able to get service here and confirmed the remainder of the route. We stayed on NF-73 for a little over a mile before we turned left onto NF-7315 which was signed. You will stay on NF-7315 for around 5 miles until you reach the trailhead or summit. There is a gate just past the trailhead that might be open depending on when you visit. We were able to continue past the gate since it was open and I have the luxury of friends with high-clearance vehicles. The road getting there was rough and would need caution in a low-clearance vehicle just to reach the trailhead. Past the gate the road is significantly worse, but we were able to roll around the large embedded rocks with no issues in a Toyota RAV4 and Subaru Outback. There was a sedan that had made it to the summit too, but it didn’t look like it would have been worth it. We also passed a large RV broken down in a pull out along NF-7315 which is a skinny and steep mostly single track road. A reminder that just because someone has done it doesn’t necessarily mean it’s a good idea. My partner and I always joke about meeting something like that on these back roads, but I never thought I’d actually ever see one.

From the parking area on the summit, which has room for 10 to 15 vehicles, it was a short easy walk to the lookout. I was hoping to at least do a little portion of the hike, but I can’t complain about being chauffeured to the summit. The Fire Lookout can also be reached via the Suntop Trail #1183. If you park at the trailhead along NF-7315 it is only a half of a mile to the summit. But, if you are looking for more of an adventure you can start at the Suntop trailhead, which is accessed from a different road, and hike the 16 miles round trip. When we approached the Fire Lookout we were greeted by the friendly attendant on duty. I didn’t catch his name or ask as many questions as I wanted to because of all the people. But, he did mention he was staffing it through a volunteer partnership with the Forest Service. He was also only staffing it for two or three days before someone else would come up to volunteer and rotate service. We didn’t stay for long after taking pictures since we left our lunch at camp. I ended up driving my friend’s RAV4 back to camp since she wasn’t keen on the steep drop offs along the road. She also has a fear of heights like me, but I’m more used to driving on these kinds of roads. It was helpful for me to see the road conditions from the drivers seat for when I inevitably come back with my partner.

History.

Suntop was built in 1933 as a 14’x14′ L-4 ground cab. It is one of two remaining lookouts of its kind on the Snoqualmie NF. It was used for the Aircraft Warning Service from 1942 to 1943 during World War II. An access road wasn’t built to the summit until 1956. Although the same structure still stands today, it was refurbished in 1989. It is still staffed on a volunteer basis through the Forest Service.

More Information.

AllTrails

US Forest Service

Washington Trails Association

Backpacking: Lower Crystal Lake

Oregon Lookouts

Location.

Mount Rainier National Park

Trail(s).

Crystal Lakes Trail

Estimated drive time from Portland, OR.

3-1/2 hours

Date(s).

July 6-7, 2019

Mileage.

6 miles RT

Elevation gain/loss.

2,300′

Trip Report.

This trip was just shy of a year from our first backpacking trip and the small little trio that I started with had grown. Alex had met his partner, now fiancĂ©, Emily the year before. While I had also started dating my partner by then too. Emily is an avid planner like me and put together this trip for us. She submitted for the permits through the system used back then, which was a mail-in form. You are now able to get these permits online through Recreation.gov if you plan ahead. Otherwise, you are left to the mercy of walk-ups. One thing I like about the permit system of Mount Rainier NP is that they only release the amount of permits equal to the amount of camp spots at each back country location. I’ve come to find that not all National Parks treat their permit quotas the same. This trail was conveniently located in between Seattle and Portland which meant no one had to drive any farther than the other.

We all left relatively early in the morning to get to the park as early as possible. We had to pick up the permits from the White River Wilderness Information Center beforehand which is conveniently located just down the road from the needed trailhead. Emily, Alex, Garnet, and I all carpooled together from Portland while Anjelica drove down from Seattle to meet us. The trailhead is located off of HWY-410 just north of the White River park entrance. There is parking on both sides of the highway that can accommodate roughly 20 cars. The trail to Crystal Lakes leaves from the east side of the highway and starts by crossing Crystal Creek on a log bridge. Your hike will begin in a sub-alpine forest and switchbacks up to the lakes basin. The trail climbs 1,600′ of elevation in the first 1.3 miles, but don’t let the numbers deter you. Although you climb a decent amount of elevation in a short amount of time, the trail is a consistent gradual grade with no significantly steeper sections. You will pass a trail junction for Crystal Peak that can be added as a 5 mile RT side with an additional 1,800′ of elevation gain for the heartier adventurers. From that junction, it’s only another 1.7 miles to upper Crystal Lake. Our permits were for the Lower Crystal Lake which is smaller and only offers two back country camp spots. A wilderness ranger passed us on the way up and checked our permits. A friendly reminder that you need permits to camp in this area and they do indeed check. There are rumors of being able to see Mt Rainier from parts of the trail, but we had no such luck on our trip. We were socked in by a fog cloud. We were able to reach Lower Crystal Lake just before noon. There was no one else there and we had our pick of the spots. Upper Crystal Lake is the more popular destination for day hikers.

We set up camp after having lunch and explored the area around the lower lake. Besides the two camp spots there is also a back country privy and bear pole to hang your food. The shore of the lake is a bit marshy and the better water source is from an outlet stream near one of the camps. There is also a very overgrown user trail that circles the lake. You can tell it sees significantly less use than the rest of the area. We had hoped the fog would clear off for some better views before heading the remaining 0.7 miles to the upper lake, but it didn’t look promising. Eventually we all hiked up to explore around some more since it seemed too early for drinks and games. We had learned from our first backpacking trip that if you start drinking the wine early, it is also gone early. The upper Crystal Lake is much larger than the lower lake and is surrounded by towering peaks. On a clear day it’s worth it to continue the hike up to Sourdough Gap to get a great view overlooking the lake and part of Mt Rainier. This is also where the trail leaves the National Park and connects with the Pacific Crest Trail. We were still settled in a fog cloud and none of us felt it was worth the effort to continue past the lake. Similar to our backpacking trip to Green Point, I had a strong urge to jump in the crystal clear water while everything else was already damp. There were more people around this time and no campfire to warm myself afterwards. I had talked myself out of it, but debated it the remainder of the trip. After taking a sufficient amount of pictures at the foggy upper lake, we headed back to camp for drinks, dinner, and card games. Since there were more of us, we opted to plan our meals separately instead of relying on Alex to do all the work. Garnet and I had a backpacking staple of soy sauce ramen with tuna added. It was warm, salty, and delicious. The fog started to break up a little after playing a couple rounds of Pay Me, a long card game that my family plays often and I have since taught to my friends. We decided to pack up the wine and head to the upper Crystal Lake hopeful for some views. Although it was never truly clear of fog, we did get a better view of the surrounding peaks. We decided to enjoy our drinks on the rocky shore for a while soaking in the scenery. We all headed back to camp before it was dark and settled in for the night.

Everything was damp the next morning. It didn’t rain but there was a constant mist in the air that clung to our gear. Knowing we were only going for one night, Garnet and I had decided to be a bit fancier with our breakfast. We packed up fresh eggs and made a scramble with cheese and tomatoes. Our friends were skeptical of the non-refrigerated eggs but we had no issues with it. There were still no signs of the sun planning to come through to break up the mist and help dry us all out. We cleaned up our camp, filtered water, and packed up our wet gear. Always remember to Leave No Trace and pack out everything you pack in. No one ever ended up joining us at the other camp by the lake. The hike down was pretty uneventful and we passed another park wilderness ranger. I think they frequent this trail often due to it being off a main highway and the close proximity to the wilderness center. There were still no views of Mt Rainier on our way down, but we seemed to have finally hiked our way out of the fog cloud. The sun was even shining when we reached the car. We said our good-byes to Anjelica and headed back towards Portland. We made a quick pit stop at the Packwood Brewing Co for tacos and beer.

More Information.

Washington Trails Association

National Park Service

AllTrails

Meadow Butte L.O.

Washington Lookouts

Location.

Washington State Division of Forestry

Status.

Abandoned; Currently standing

Estimated drive time from Portland, OR.

2 hours

Date visited.

June 11, 2022

Elevation.

3,620′

National Historic Lookout Register.

Yes

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.

History.

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.

4 Popular Hikes That Are Former Fire Lookout Sites

Former Lookouts

In the prime of fire suppression, Oregon had over 800 fire lookouts and Washington had 750 fire lookouts topped on almost every high peak in both the states. Many were dismantled, destroyed, or burned down in a blaze of glory. But remains of the foundation can usually be found on the summits as a reminder to what once stood. Below lists 4 popular hikes close to Portland, OR that have a history in fire detection and lookouts.

Beacon Rock

Location.

Beacon Rock State Park – Columbia River Gorge

Estimated drive time from Portland, OR.

1 hour

Mileage.

1.5 miles RT

Elevation.

730′

Beacon rock is one of the tallest monoliths in North America and stands at 848 feet tall. It is also considered one of the most distinctive geological features in the Columbia River Gorge. The route follows a mostly blasted and bridged trail on the exposed west side of the rock. Parts of the trail have been paved over throughout the years and is completely lined with handrails. It is basically just a series of short continuous switchbacks to the summit. The history behind Beacon Rock is extensive and interesting. The feature itself was once the core of a volcano and what remains is what was able to withstand the force of ice-age floods. It was noted and named as Beacon Rock by Lewis & Clark during their voyage in 1805. Though I’m sure it had a different name for those native to the area. It was even slated for demolition at one point for either railroad construction or a new jetty on the Columbia River Gorge. Henry Biddle bought the rock and surrounding area before this happened. He is also the one who originally built the trail between 1915 to 1918. His property was later offered to the Washington State Parks by his estate for $1. The Washington State Parks originally refused this offer until Oregon expressed interest in maintaining it as a park. It was purchased by the Washington State Parks in 1935. Although you won’t find any remnants of a former lookout structure on the summit of this rock, it does have a history in fire detection. Given the height of the rock, it was used as a fire detection camp from the 1930s up until the 1950s when it was abandoned. I’ve hiked this trail more than any other trail and with more people than any other trail I’ve every hiked. It is a good beginner trail or trail for showing your out of town friends to a quick hike.

More Information.

Oregon Hikers

AllTrails

Saddle Mountain

Location.

Saddle Mountain State Natural Area

Estimated drive time from Portland, OR.

1-1/2 hours

Mileage.

5.2 miles RT

Elevation.

3,283′

The top of Saddle Mountain offers expansive views from the Pacific Ocean all the way to Mt Hood. It is no question why they would want to have a lookout on this summit. The trail switchbacks through an old growth forest until you reach the last push up the rocky slope. Parts of the trail are covered in mesh wiring to help with erosion and traction. It is a steep 1,640′ gain in elevation over 2.5 miles to the summit. Saddle Mountain was established as a fire camp in 1913 with a log cabin situated below the summit. In 1920, a frame cabin with observation platform was built. It was replaced in 1953 by a 2-story live-in cabin. The lookout structure was destroyed in 1966. I have been on this summit a few different times but didn’t take the time to look for any remnants of foundation.

More Information.

Oregon Hikers

AllTrails

Dog Mountain

Location.

Gifford Pinchot National Forest – Columbia River Gorge

Estimated drive time from Portland, OR.

1-1/2 hours

Mileage.

6.5 miles RT

Elevation.

2,480′

Stretching my calves on the way up
wildflowers on the trail!
Near the summit where we turned around

Dog Mountain is a very popular hike in the Columbia River Gorge due to its proximity to town and being right off of HWY-14. In the spring, between March 31st and July 1st, permits are required to hike this trail on the weekends. This is due to the hazardous conditions created for the cars on the highway by the overflow of people during wildflower season. There are a few different routes and loops that can be done to reach the summit once at the trailhead. My friend and I completed this hike on a hot July day before the permit system was in place. We arrived to the trailhead early to give us enough time to reach the summit and attempt to beat the crowds. We took the “less difficult” route which is the newer trail and offers more views on your steep climb up. We made it just past the former fire lookout site, also known as the Puppy Dog Lookout site, before turning around. I vaguely remember there still being some foundation there. The trail originally was developed to service this fire lookout that was destroyed in 1967. The original lookout was constructed in 1931 as a gable-roofed L-4 cab with windows only on three sides. It was replaced in 1953 by a standard L-4 cab. Both structures were located 1/4 mile from the actual summit of Dog Mountain. I used to have more pictures from this hike, even one of us standing on the former lookout site, but they have been lost in multiple phone transitions since 2017.

More Information.

Oregon Hikers

AllTrails

Mt. Defiance

Location.

Mt Hood National Forest – Columbia River Gorge

Estimated drive time from Portland, OR.

1 hour

Mileage.

12.5 miles RT

Elevation.

4,960′

Mt Rainier
Mt Adams
Mt Hood
Mt Saint Helens & Wind Mountain

Mt. Defiance is one of the more brutal hikes I’ve done. It is the highest peak in the Columbia River Gorge and offers views out towards Mt Hood NF as well. This made it the perfect candidate for a fire lookout site. I recommend starting this hike early if you want to make it to the summit and back before dark. Or at least hike a lot faster than I do. We didn’t start this hike until mid-morning and ended up getting back to the car after dark. The hike starts out paved and passes some pretty waterfalls. Once you have reached the junction with the un-paved trail you will start to go up and continue to go up the rest of the way. There are still some communication buildings on the summit and I’m sure there are foundation remnants if you spend some time looking for them. We didn’t spend much time here since it took me so long to get there. The trail had recently re-opened after the Eagle Creek Fire in 2017. The ashy portions of the trail made for un-stable ground and was hard for me on the hike down. By the time I got back to the car my feet felt like they were going to fall off completely. The first fire lookout on this site was a crow’s nest and tent in 1925. A more substantial structure was built in 1934 as a 40′ pole tower with L-4 cab. This was eventually replaced by a 41′ treated timber tower with L-4 cab in 1952. In 1959, the lookout was destroyed by a windstorm. The Forest Service didn’t build a replacement lookout until 1962 which was a R-6 flat top cab and 41′ treated timber tower. It was completely removed from the summit in 1971.

Struggling on the way up, but with a view!
Dying on the summit, also with view!

More Information.

Oregon Hikers

AllTrails

Steliko Point L.O.

Washington Lookouts

Location.

Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest

Status.

Rental Program; Currently Standing

Estimated drive time from Portland, OR.

5-1/2 hours

Date Visited.

March 25-27, 2022

Elevation.

2,586′

National Historic Lookout Register.

Yes

Trip Report.

My partner and I found Steliko Point L.O. when we were researching how many lookouts are currently on the rental program in Washington. We were surprised to find that there were still a decent amount of openings for reservation, unlike Oregon lookout rentals that book up the instant they are listed as available. I’ve always wanted to stay in a lookout but never really took the time to do my research to obtain a reservation. We picked the last weekend in March because we wanted a weekend that would possibly be snow free, decent weather, and still have the gate up on the road. Based on past trip reports my Civic wouldn’t have made it up the road anyway and we wanted to decrease the amount of un-expected visitors possible.

Friday.

We woke up early Friday morning and started our long drive towards Steliko Point. There are a few ways to get there from Portland but we decided to head up I-5. From I-5 you will need to cross over via I-90 to connect with HWY-97 to eventually get to HWY-97A. We made a quick stop in Entiat to refuel and visit the Columbia Breaks Fire Interpretive Center. A must see if you are a lookout enthusiast like us! After visiting the museum, we headed back down HWY-97A and turned right on to Entiat River Road towards the town of Ardenvoir. Just past Ardenvoir you will turn right on to Steliko Canyon Road which turns into NF-5310. The road will be gated but there is a sign for parking near the Forest Service sheds. You will need to park parallel with the cement blocks. Once parked we had a quick lunch and loaded up our packs for the short but steep 1.6 mile trek up the road. You will gain around 1,200′ of elevation during your hike. The lookout is outfitted with mattresses, folding tables, a propane stove, a propane fridge, heater, and other basic cleaning amenities. This means you can leave your sleeping pad and camping stove at home. The only essentials we had to carry up were our clothes, cook ware, sleeping bags, food, and water. There is no water source at the summit and it is a very exposed area, so make sure to plan accordingly. We over shot on the amount of water needed by bringing (1) 3 gallon jug, (2) 3 liter hydro packs, and (8) 32oz Nalgene bottles worth. The amount of water weighing us down made the hike up harder than it needed to be. Once at the summit you are able to access the lookout via keyed entry. There is a lockbox that you are given the code to with your reservation. We were surprised to find that previous guests had stocked the lookout with even more amenities than listed. You shouldn’t assume there will be everything you need there but there are a lot of leave behinds incase you do forget something such as games, cooking utensils, books, food, and even water. I loved the community feel and connection it gave from past guests especially after reading the entries in the guest book. This lookout has only been on the rental program since November 2019 and had a brief gap where it was closed from April 2020 until May 2021 due to the Pandemic. Or at least that is what I gathered based on the gap in entries from the guest book. We enjoyed our dinner with a nice sunset before heading to bed early. We were both tired from the long day of driving to get there.

Photo taken by my partner
Photo taken by my partner
Photo taken by my partner

Saturday.

I woke up at 6:30AM to see if I could catch the sunrise but it was mostly clouded and didn’t offer anything spectacular. We still had great weather for most of our trip with mild temperatures and partly cloudy skies. During breakfast on the catwalk we were able to spot 40+ mule deer grazing on the hillsides. I read that this was a known area for their winter range and that they were frequently spotted from the lookout, but I didn’t think we’d see so many of them together. We were also able to spot Tyee L.O. and another lookout that someone built on private property. A trip report mentioned that you could see Sugarloaf Peak L.O. from here as well but the mountain that they identified was actually Baldy Mountain. After breakfast, my partner decided to hike along the ridge trail while I hung around the lookout to read and draw. He came back for lunch and we relaxed around the lookout for most of the afternoon. A day hiker with their dog was the only person we saw for most of the day. My guest book entry mentions that this is the only person we saw the whole trip but that is inaccurate. Later in the evening, we decided to hike down to the ridge below where there is another road and walk around. My partner ended up hiking cross-country in a different direction, so I was back at the lookout earlier than him. While I was waiting for his return, a runner came up the road and climbed the catwalk. He said he was training as a wildland firefighter in the area but didn’t realize anyone was up here this time of year. I don’t think he knew this was listed as a rental. He apologized for spooking me and invading my space before heading back down. Our interaction was brief and friendly but it might be worth adding a sign somewhere visible for day hikers and visitors to be aware. After eating dinner, we both read the books we brought until it got dark. I ended up finishing my book while there and decided to leave it behind for future guests to enjoy. Hopefully someone enjoys true crime as much as I do because I left behind a copy of Red River Girl: The Life and Death of Tina Fontaine by Joanna Jolly. Saturday night was a bit stormy with mild winds and a sprinkle of rain. We even saw a bit of lightning in the distance as we were trying to fall asleep.

Private Lookout
Tyee Lookout

Sunday.

Sunday morning, we saw the same herd of 40+ mule deer while we savored our last few hours at the lookout. Part of the condition of your stay is to pack out your trash, sweep, and wipe down the counters. Although this rental is managed by Wenatchee Valley TREAD, It’s a collective responsibility to help keep this place in good condition for others to enjoy. We left behind any remaining water we didn’t use for future guest who might need it. We spotted some day hikers headed up the road while we were locking up and took that as our cue to leave. Our packs were significantly lighter than when we started and the hike down was a breeze. We passed another group of day hikers on our hike out and even saw the same wildland firefighter start his run up the road while we were having lunch at the car. Driving back to Portland, we decided to take the more scenic route following HWY-97 most of the way until it meets up with I-84. We could see Lorena Butte L.O. from our drive and stopped at the Stonehenge Memorial while in the area. Overall it was a relaxing and quiet weekend away.

History.

Steliko Point has been used as an observation camp site since 1925. The current lookout is a 16’x16′ L-4 cab with 10′ tower and was built in 1947. It was actively staffed up until the mid-1990s and is still registered for emergency use. There are signs of another foundation on the summit, but I couldn’t find any information online about previous additional structures. Steliko Point is one of only three remaining lookouts in the Entiat Ranger District. Given it’s proximity to Ardenvoir and low elevation, it is also one of the few lookouts wired on the power grid. Yes, that means you can charge your phone during your stay. There are only USB ports though, so don’t bring anything that requires a plug. Over the last few years it has undergone remodeling and updates by volunteers to open it up for the rental program. It is now mostly managed by the non-profit Wenatchee Valley TREAD for maintenance and overnight stays.

More Information.

Washington Trails Association

US Forest Service

Recreation.gov

AllTrails

Columbia Breaks Fire Interpretive Center

Washington Lookouts

Location.

Entiat, WA

Status.

Relocated, refurbished, & maintained for educational purposes

Estimated drive time from Portland, OR.

5 hours

Date Visited.

March 25, 2022

Trip Report.

We decided to stop off at the Columbia Breaks Fire Interpretive Center for a quick stretch and lunch before heading to our weekend reservations at Steliko Point. The building was closed during our visit but the parking area and interpretive trail were still open to the public. The self guided trail is only 1/2 mile and features three fire lookouts that were relocated and restored. You might also see a few Marmot’s along the trail, they like to hide among the rocks. The main focus of the trail is to educate on the historic impact of wildfires and its importance in ecology. It also touches on the pros and cons of human effects in fire management. If you like fire lookouts and find the history of wildfires interesting this is worth the stop while in the area. The CBFIC is a non-profit and financed through donations. Places like this are important for preservation and education. Please donate if you are able or visit their website to learn about getting involved!

Chelan Butte L.O.

Chelan Butte L.O. is a 28′ treated timber tower with 14’x14′ standard L-4 cab. It was moved to the CBFIC in 1995, but originally sat at 3,835′ on a butte overlooking the town of Chelan and Lake Chelan. The current lookout was built in 1938 by the CCC as a replacement for the original tower that burned down. The original lookout built on Chelan Butte was a 40′ pole tower with L-4 cab in 1936. It was placed on the National Historic Register of Historic Places in 1990. The lookout, for the most part, maintains it’s original integrity but the shutters were replaced and the tower was lowered by 4′ to accommodate the CBFIC site.

Flattop Mountain L.O.

Flattop Mountain has had a unique history of lookouts throughout the years. It has an elevation of 4,394′ and is located in the Gifford Pinchot NF. It was named due to it’s broad and flat summit. It was so broad that they developed the site with two fire finders at each end in the 1920’s. The remaining lookout that can be found at the CBFIC is a replica of the lookout from the east point of the mountain. Some of the old wood from the lookout was used in the reconstruction, specifically the roof and wooden frame supports.

East Point

The first structure built on the summit of Flattop Mountain was a 16’x20′ frame house on the east point in the early 1920s. Around the 1930s they moved the frame house to the west point and built a 7’x7′ foot frame cab in it’s place. It was quickly replaced by an L-5 cab in 1933. The reconstructed replica that can be found at the CBFIC is based off the lookout that was built in 1946. It was a prototype 2-story 14’x14′ foot frame cab with slanted windows and curved hip roof. It is the only one of this style to ever be built. Originally it was thought to be the next generation of lookouts, but the Pacific Northwest was standardized on the R-6 flat top cab instead. The site was abandoned in 1960 where the lookout was subject to vandalism and fell into disrepair. There were plans to destroy it, but the Forest Fire Lookout Association was able to dismantle and relocate it to the CBFIC in 2005.

West Point

The history of the west point of Flattop started in 1930 when they moved the 16’x20′ frame house over from the east point. The house was updated in 1934 when they added two screen porches and an observation cupola. This was used until the site was abandoned and the west point house was destroyed in 1960.

Badger Mountain L.O.

Badger Mountain L.O. is a 14’x14′ standard L-4 cab that used to have a 18′ treated timber tower. It was originally constructed in the 1930s by the CCC for Lion Rock located in the Cle Elum Ranger District. It was later moved to Badger Mountain just outside the Wenatchee NF in Douglas County. The site was situated at 3,498′ and chosen due to its vantage point of the Wenatchee NF across the Columbia River. The lookout was actively staffed up until the 1970s where it was moved to emergency status. Its last recorded use was during the Dinkelman Fire in 1988. In 1990, it was placed on the National Historic Register of Historic Places and then relocated to the CBFIC in the fall of 1999. The shutters were replaced due to prolonged weather exposure but otherwise the lookout has undergone minimal change since it was originally constructed.

More Information.

Columbia Breaks Fire Interpretive Center

Salmon River L.O.

Washington Lookouts

Location.

The Foothills Historical Museum; Buckley, WA

Status.

Refurbished & maintained for educational purposes

Estimated drive time from Portland, OR.

3 hours

Date visited.

October 31, 2021

Elevation.

2,693′ (original)

National Historic Lookout Register.

No

Trip Report.

My partner and I decided to swing by the Foothills Historical Museum on our way home from visiting friends in Kirkland. It’s right off N River Avenue in the city of Buckley and easy to access. We parked on the street right across from Buckley Hall in front of the main museum building. The park that hosts these structures, Van Hoof Park, is across the street. You are welcome to climb the lookout tower and catwalk at anytime. The cab was shuttered and closed during our visit but I believe they open it during events and summer for visitors. The museum focuses on conservation of the history of Buckley and the surrounding Carbon River Corridor. The Foothills Historical Society that manages the museum is completely run by volunteers and financed through donations. Places like this are important for preservation and education. Please donate if you are able or visit their website to learn about getting involved!

History.

The Salmon River L.O. site was originally established in 1965 with a platform and trailer along Salmon River Ridge near Lake Quinault. In 1967, a 2-story live in cab was built on the summit and ran by the Washington Department of Natural Resources. It’s ownership was later transferred to the Quinault Nation after discovering it was built on their reservation land. They had believed it was just east of the boundary when the structure was originally built. In 2000, the Quinault Nation donated the structure to the Foothills Historical Society for preservation. The lookout was dismantled and then transported by pick up and flatbed trailers to its current location in Van Hoof Park. Volunteers and many locals helped rebuild the structure on a log tower with wooden steps instead of the original cinderblock.

Next to the Salmon River L.O. is another observation structure that was built during World War II for aircraft spotting. It was originally located atop Huckleberry Mountain near Mule Springs. It was later used by fire patrols until it was moved to Buckley in 1991 by Southworth & Sons. Some other notable structures maintained on the property are a State Forest Ranger Cabin, 1870 Stiller Log Cabin, Lester Bunkhouse & Saw Shop, Blacksmith Shop, Steam Donkey, and Lester RR siding.

More Information.

Foothills Historical Museum

Shriner Peak L.O.

Washington Lookouts

Location.

Mount Rainier National Park

Status.

Maintained; Currently standing

Estimated drive time from Portland, OR.

2-1/2 hours

Date visited.

October 3, 2021

Elevation.

5,846′

National Historic Lookout Register.

US 207; WA 26

Trip Report.

Fall has arrived! And with it brings the hunting season and potential for snow. My partner and I decided to enjoy a weekend at home for a change despite the gorgeous weather forecast. We still planned on hiking to a lookout in the area as a day trip though. We debated between seeing Clear Lake, Shriner Peak, Gobblers Knob, or Burley Mountain. But, Shriner Peak had been calling my name for a while now, even with the daunting elevation and drive time. We compared the distance and elevation to other challenging hikes we’ve done and decided to go for it. The trailhead is easily accessible off of HWY-123 between the Ohanapecosh Campground and the White River Park Entrance. AllTrails noted the trail as 7.5 miles round trip with 3,356′ elevation gain, while the National Park noted the trail as 8 miles round trip and 3,434′ elevation gain. My phone tracked it closer to 8.5 miles round trip. It is described as difficult and strenuous, but we found it to be more of a moderate hike. It is a continuous up hill climb but nothing in comparison to other hikes we’ve done. If you’ve done Devil’s Peak via Cool Creek Trail then this one will be a breeze in comparison. You will still want to bring a lot of water and lunch for the summit. Despite not feeling like a strenuous hike, I experienced 3 Charlie Horses in one of my calves. I repeat bring lots of water. I’d also recommend this as a late season hike, the cooler temperatures and breeze make a difference. The park notes this as one of their loneliest trails, if you’re looking for a less crowded place to hike. We still saw about 12 groups of people on this hike though. But, in comparison to other trails in the park it is definitely less visited. Some of the groups only hiked to the false summit, 2.5 miles in, which offers a great view of the mountain and below valley. By the time we reached the summit we had it to ourselves. The summit also has two backcountry camp spots only a short hike from the lookout. You need permits to backpack in this area and there is no reliable water source.

I love being able to meet the people that are knowledgeable of these places. We had the pleasure of meeting Ranger Pete from the National Park service while on the summit. He had hiked up when we were enjoying lunch on the catwalk of the lookout. He was staying there for the evening and going to be boarding up the windows in preparation for the winter season. He was kind enough to answer our questions about the area and lookout to the best of his knowledge. He used to work in Glacier National Park and mentioned they actually have active lookouts in the park still. The ones in Mount Rainier National Park function mostly as standing exhibits but are still used by staff and volunteers.

History.

Shriner Peak L.O. was built in 1932 by the National Park Branch of Plans and Designs. It’s the standard 2-story frame cab used by the National Park service that features a ground floor storage room and upper live-in space. It is one of the four remaining lookouts within the Mount Rainier National Park. It was actively staffed until the 1980’s and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. I just need Gobblers Knob to finish visiting all the lookouts within this National Park.

Fly Amanita on the trail
Fly Amanita on the trail

More Information.

Washington Trails Association

National Park Service

AllTrails