Outdoor and Travel Adventures
More Former Lookouts
Chasing the quest to visit all 700+ former lookout sites in Washington. These 4 were done from one Forest Road. One is a drive-up while the other three were behind a seasonal locked gate.
For Southern Californians, Palm Springs is a popular weekend getaway. For the rest of us, Palm Springs is a vacation offering 350 days of sunshine. Stand at the airport baggage carrousel and you quickly realize Golf is the main activity in Palm Springs. But, even non-golfers can have a good time soaking up the sun, enjoying the regional sights, attractions and resort deals. Below are a few sights from a 2 day visit in February with 80 degree temps.
Towering over Palm Springs, San Jacinto Peak rises well over 10,000 feet directly above. San Jacinto Peak is the highpoint of the San Jacinto Range and has nearly 8,300 feet of prominence making it the 6th most prominent mountain in the lower 48 states. The naturalist John Muir wrote about the summit, "The view from San Jacinto is the most sublime spectacle to be found anywhere on this earth!" Many routes up exist but the Palm Springs Aerial Tram whisks people up from the valley to 8,516 feet, making the easiest ascent route. Then it requires a 5.5 mile trail hike up with a remaining 2,500 vertical foot climb.
This location makes for an interesting hike. It's located on the Pilchuck Tree Farm, which has numerous hiking, biking and horse trails. This particular section of the Pilchuck Tree Farm has the Pilchuck Glass School, which offers serious instruction at a nice facility in a natural setting. No entry is allowed but you can hike all around the complex. This loop trip circles around the school, in order to visit the elusive Pilchuck Monument. This memorial monument isn't exactly easy to find and many have missed its location. Bring a good map.
Kosmos Lookout is a prominent highpoint due east of Morton, usually not shown on maps, that has over 1,300 feet of rise. On the summit in 1947 was placed a 90 foot steel observation tower with 7x7 foot cab on top, that was WWII surplus. Next to the tower was a small house used as living quarters. The foundations for both structures are still there. In 1963, right where the steel tower was located, a 50 foot wooden DNR live-in tower was built. This second lookout lasted until destroyed in 1968. The footings of this lookout still remain, overlapping the footings of the steel tower. This hike offers excellent views, especially if you take scenic routes to the summit.
Near the tip of the Kitsap Peninsula, Foulweather Bluff Preserve incorporates six distinct habitats within a scant 100 acres. Forest uplands abut a sizeable brackish marsh and lagoon, which in turn is enclosed by a long, stabilized sand berm. The adjacent 3700 foot long beach is fed with sand from eroding bluffs, and extensive tidelands offer opportunities for close examination of intertidal life. Visitors to the preserve are welcome but to respect the wildlife, there is no dogs, no clamming, no souvenirs to carry out, no restrooms, no fires, just birdwatching, photography and other forms of nature appreciation.
The Point No Point Light House is the oldest lighthouse on Puget Sound, erected in 1879. The point was named by the Wilkes Expedition in 1841, and the 1855 Point No Point Treaty was signed at this location by Territorial Gov. Isaac Stevens and leaders of Chimacum, Skokomish and S'Klallam tribes, ending the Indian wars. Today, the site is the location for people flying kites, fishing for salmon, walking their dogs, hunting for shells, boat watching and building sand castles. Unlike most of the rocky shores on Puget Sound, this beach is huge and all sand.
Located on Hood Canal, Guillemot Cove (also known as Frenchmans Cove) is a undeveloped Kitsap County park full of trails and some rather unique locations to see. The main highlight of course is the beach, with the Olympic Mountains in the distance. Boyce Creek flows out from the woods and kids love playing where the water cuts through the sandy beach. Guillemot is a type of coastal bird and there are lots of birding opportunities around the cove. Other sites include the old beach house, a barns and even a house made inside a giant cedar stump.
There are many mountains in the National Monument just north of Mt. St. Helens, but the most popular is Coldwater Mountain. Once a sight of a lookout tower, today it is the site for numerous research instruments. Hiking from the Johnson Visitors Center, Coldwater is the first mountain of real prominence. Trails approach the mountain from three directions and a nice final trail switchbacks up to the summit. As pictures show, the views are spectacular. Coldwater Peak was right in the blast zone in 1980.
More Former Lookouts
Chasing the quest to visit all 700+ former lookouts in Washington
This hike at the eastern edge of the cascades nearly starts at the Columbia River, climbing 3,000 feet to the former lookout sites of Goman and Byrd. The route is along the Oklahoma Gulch Road, part of a wildlife area that gated to motorized use during winter and spring. Activities are discouraged as they impact wintering deer but many go this time of year due to easy access. I must have saw 30 to 40 deer in just a few hours in March.
This trail has a lot to offer, the views over the Columbia River are terrific, the open grass slopes are like mountain meadows and the finish actually feels like a high summit. In reality, the ridge drops just a bit and then continues to higher points. Do this hike in April or early May and you'll find a flower garden. Do much later than that, and you will find excessive heat and plenty of snakes. If you don't mind a bit of snow, the parking lot is usually cleared all winter.
Usually done in winter, Teanaway Butte is a popular snowshoe from either Jungle Creek or the Middle Fork near Indian Campground. Teanaway Butte is a Backcourt List peak, a 1,000 plus prominence peak, and the site of at least 2 former lookout sites. To walk the historic route, take the access from the Middle Fork which at the halfway point was the site of the original lookout, called Middle Teanaway.
Located on a high knob in the Kapowsin Tree Farm, this lookout point can be seen from miles all around. The lookout is a 20 foot high wooden flattop DNR tower with catwalk built in 1964. Some have suggested it might have been one of the last ones built in Washington. The lookout is on a private tree farm and access by vehicle is restricted unless you purchase an annual access permit. But, in winter, Puyallup Ridge Lookout is part of the Mt. Tahoma Ski Trail System.
Drift Creek Falls is a 75 foot horsetail type waterfall that is scenic but the 240 foot suspension bridge towering 100 feet above the creek steals the show. The bridge is the longest suspension trail bridge in any national forest in Oregon and Washington.
Some come for the dramatic cliffs and coastal scenery, while others are there for the wildlife. For views, Cape Meares is spectacular. Short trails take visitors to many overlooks, including the main attraction at the Cape Meares Lighthouse. For wildlife, there are elk, bear, deer and many species of birds. The steep cliffs and offshore rocks are nesting sites for thousands of seabirds, including common murres, pelagic and Brandt’s cormorants, pigeon guillemots and the occasional peregrine falcons in the spring.
Cape Lokoout is a densely forested headland that protrudes far out into the Pacific Ocean. The trail winds up and down and all around working its way to the very end. Get to the end and you are so far from the coast, the views really are just a lot of ocean water....less dramatic than the beginning of the hike. But the tip of the cape offers prime whale watching during Gray whale migrations. Most of the hike is through lush Sitka Spruce and western hemlock forests with no views. Along the way is the occasional view or views down cliffs to (sometimes noisy) sea bird sanctuaries.
One of the most interesting headlands on the Oregon Coast is Cape Kiwanda. The sandstone, the large seastacks, a monster sand hill and many tidepools creates some of the best photo opportunities. Cape Kiwanda is the smallest of the capes on the Three Capes Scenic Route, but it's said to be the best place to experience spectacular wave action. The cape can be approached by vehicle on the north side or from Pacific City right at the south side, where the dory boat launching area is located. You can park there or park up on shore in Pacific City.
This lookout was originally called South Prairie but is also referred to as O'Farrell. It was a 20 foot pole L-4 tower built in 1934. It was replaced in 1960 by the Carbon Ridge Lookout further up the ridge.
Newport has been a vacation destination since 1856. Attractions are in town as well as other sights along Highway 101. The Yaquina Bay Bridge with its dramatic soaring steel arches make it one of the most photographed of McCullough's bridges on Highway 101.
The second most popular island to visit in the San Juan Islands is Orcas Island. From the air the island can be spotted easily because of its unique horseshoe shape that makes for miles of long shoreline. Geographically, Orcas is the largest of the islands
This lookout was built in 1960 or 1961, replacing the nearby South Prairie Lookout. The structure was reported to be a 40 foot wooden DNR live-in tower, said to be gone by 1969. Today the site is being used as a weather station.