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#9 Lookout Mountain Methow Mountains

Location: 48.313222, -120.187500
Summit Elevation: 5,515′
Lookout Type: 14’x14′ L-4
Site Established: 1916
Current Structure Built: 1937
Dates Visited: 1/22/14, 10/4/17

Lookout Mountain outside Twisp claims the highest number of first fire reports in the Methow Valley and enjoys gorgeous views of Hoodoo Peak and the surrounding North Cascades.

This lookout is generally reachable year-round and can be a great winter snowshoe outing, just check avalanche and road conditions before heading up.

Lookout Mountain has the highest number of first fire reports in the Methow Valley.

Photos are from visits in winter 2014 and fall 2017.


History.

Lookout Mountain Lookout was first established as a camp in 1916 then a log cupola was built in 1931. The present classic 14′ x 14′ L-4 with catwalk on a 25′ timber tower was constructed in 1937 and staffed every summer until 1997.

Every fire season the lookout averaged over a dozen first reports of fires, giving it the distinction of being the lookout with the highest number of first fire reports in the Methow Valley. It was placed on standby status by the Okanogan National Forest in 1998 and remains on emergency status. It’s also listed in the National Historic Lookout Register as of November 8, 2000.


The route.

If road is gated*:
Distance (RT):
 5.2 miles
Elevation Gain: 1,360′

If road is not gated:
Distance (RT): 2.6 miles
Elevation Gain: 1,200′

*The road is often gated below the trailhead during hunting season and winter months. If gated, there is a large turnout to park and the extra mile or so up the road doesn’t add a ton of time and is quite pleasant.

I’ve only visited Lookout Mountain during the shoulder season when the road has been gated, so I’ve always hiked the extra mile or so, which goes by quickly, especially with beautiful views east across the Methow Valley.

Once at the upper trailhead, the trail is on your left and climbs a very non-direct 1,200′ through forest to the summit, mostly winding around the mountain.

As the trail wraps around the west side of Lookout Mountain you’ll be treated to big views of Hoodoo Peak and the surrounding North Cascades.

Hoodoo Peak in the distance on a winter ascent in 2014.

The lookout is locked but the catwalk is open with expansive 360° views of the entire Okanogan, Hoodoo Peak being a prominent point on the horizon.


Seasons of Lookout Mountain.

I’ve visited Lookout Mountain twice, once in the winter of 2014 and again in the fall of 2017. During the winter of 2014 I was able to hike up with just boots and gaiters. I’ll never forget that trip because the temperatures lowered substantially while I was on the summit and the road turned to a sheet of ice on the drive down. There are a few twists and turns in the road with steep dropoffs and I’m still not sure I’ve ever had a more white knuckle drive than that one!

In fall 2017 I was treated to one of the most spectacular sunsets I’ve ever seen and stayed for every last drop, hiking out in the dark with my headlamp. I had a funny but somewhat scary encounter with cows as I neared my Jeep, so be aware if you ever hike out after dark from Lookout Mountain and see glowing eyes, they just might be free range cattle!


Directions.

From Twisp, turn on the Twisp River Rd. (W 2nd Ave). In 0.25 miles turn left on Lookout Mountain Rd. Follow the road approximately 6.25 miles to the upper trailhead. From there the lookout is a 2.6 mile roundtrip hike with 1,200′ of elevation gain.

During winter and hunting season, the road is usually gated lower which adds approximately 3 miles round trip to the outing. The road is generally well maintained and easy for most vehicles. In winter expect more challenging travel or icy conditions.