#8 Buck Mountain Okanogan Range
First Visit: Jan 17, 2014
Lookout Type: 14’x14′ flat-gable
Site Established: 1919
Current Structure Built: 1961
Lat/Long: 48.43660°N / 119.82398°W
Distance: 3.9 miles*
*Driving to the summit is possible. I visited in winter when the road was blocked by snow.
Elevation Gain: 1,165′
Summit Elevation: 6,135′
What makes it special…
Incredible solitude and sweeping views of the Okanogan!
Buck Mountain Lookout was developed in 1919 by the state as a crow’s nest. A log cabin was built nearby for workers to shelter during periods of high fire danger. In 1934, the crow’s nest and log cabin were removed and replaced with a 20′ pole L-4 tower. In 1961 that tower was replaced with the present 14′ x 14′ flat-gable Washington Department of Natural Resources live-in cab with catwalk on a 20′ timber tower.
The lookout construction work was performed by the Department’s own carpentry crew, who spent two years completing 9 lookouts at a cost averaging $8,000 apiece.1 It is maintained by the DNR for emergency use and sometimes still used after major lightning storms. It was registered on the National Historic Lookout Register on November 20, 1999.
13rd Biennial Report Washington Department of Natural Resources.
From Twisp, take Highway 20 over Loup Loup Pass approximately 15 miles to a left turn on Buck Lookout Rd (FS 1100), which is a bit hidden and comes up fast. Depending on conditions, the road is driveable 5.75 miles to the lookout summit or you can park below and hike, ski, or snowshoe up. The road can be rough, so high clearance 4×4 recommended.
I first visited Buck Mountain in the winter of 2014 while living in the Methow Valley. It was a light snow year, which meant I was able to drive my Jeep about 3.5 miles up Buck Lookout Road to a large junction before the snow got deeper. The junction had ample parking and with only a few inches of snow, I hiked a little over 2 miles to the summit with just gaiters.
I was quite surprised to find ample solitude and absolutely no tracks, so there’s a good chance if you do this lookout in the winter you’ll have it all to yourself! The road is easy to follow and winds up through forest, though the trees obscure the lookout and leave you wondering if there actually is a lookout on top!
It’s not until you round the summit block that you actually see the lookout, so just keep going! It’s there, I promise! The lookout is locked up but you can climb the first set of stairs. Views from the summit stretch across the entire Okanogan Valley! My round trip was roughly 4 miles with just over 1,000′ of gain and took me just under 2 hours. Consider making this a fun snowshoe or ski outing in the winter or hike or trail run in the summer.