Elevation: 1,396 feet
Distance: Around one mile
Elevation gain: 600 feet
Access: Good Gravel Roads
Chester Ridge Lookout Site
Chester Ridge is located between Chester Creek and the West Fork Humptulips River on a low narrow ridge at the bottom of the valley. It was a 20 foot treated timber R-6 tower built in 1958 lasting until destroyed in 1972. It seems this lookout was placed to overlook the local timber harvests during the coming 1960s, when loggers started cutting on the steeper hillslopes in the area. We learn from a November 14, 1956 news article in the Port Angeles Evening News, “Quinault District Ranger Jack Heintzelman says this is the first of four large blocks of timber to be sold from his district. This timber is located in the West Fork Humptulips drainage area, and is being sold to provide for a site for a lookout station. Heintzelman described the site as an excellent one for detection purposes. He said an August 31, 1957 deadline will be set on logging, so that snags may be burned that fall and the lookout station built by summer, 1958." Today, the summit still has the 4 concrete footings, one is in place while the other three have been moved to the side. Sometime around 2015, West Fork Humptulips Thinning Project has commercially thinned the second growth forest stand of the ridge in order to develop forest structural complexity. In other words, they are taking a previously clear-cut area, that is now a forests between 35 to 80 years old and helping them along toward old growth status. The impact statement for this project surveyed the historical site of the former Chester Ridge lookout but determined it was not a historic and cultural site in the document. The Washington State Office of Archaeology and Historic Preservation was also consulted regarding the findings of a site-specific cultural resources survey, and concurred in February 2008 with the determination that the project will have no adverse effect on historic resources. And with that, we have the official attitude toward former lookout sites.
About three miles north of Humptulips on Highway 101, turn east on Donkey Creek road. Drive about eight and a half miles to a left turn north on Forest Service Road 2204. Follow this on the long straight section until the pavement ends and the road makes a hard left. Soon cross Elk Creek, then the West Fork of the Humptulips River over a super high bridge. Use the map after that to find the correct parking spot. In 2017 the road to the summit area was blocked by a tank-trap but this may not always be the case in the future.
Just walk up the main road until you get just below the summit. A recently abandoned road with logging debris covering it will then cut back up to the summit. It is likely easier just to walk through the forest to the top than follow this last bit of road. Note that as you walk the main road higher up, the left side of the road is old-growth while the right side is the harvest area trying to improve the stand to look like the old-growth. It takes time. It’s a neat vantage point to walk the road halfway up the canopy of the old-growth. One wonders why the trees weren’t taken on the first round of logging, I would guess they just weren’t good enough at the time.
Area map showing the location of Chester Ridge
Location of Chester Ridge Lookout Site
Looking SW, footings are in the pile
Looking west from summit
Looking East from summit
Looking South from summit
Footing in place, almost buried
Chester Ridge Road
Chester Ridge Road