Prices Peak Lookout Site
If you consider the Olympic Mountains ending at Highway 12, Prices Peak was about the most southern lookout in the Olympics. In 1940, Weyerhaeuser, Simpson, the State and the WFFA built 3 miles of road to erect a semi-permanent lookout. It was a 2-story, 10 by 10 foot square structure, said to be fully enclosed and standing six feet above ground level on a commanding point.(1940: 33rd annual Report of the WFFA). A survey crew described it in 1953 as "a two-story wooden structure which is about 10 feet square and about 20 feet in height". They also said "observations were made from a 90 foot tower" so maybe there was a tower. The next year in 1954 a survey party mentioned a garage and telephone poles. In August 1957, the Department of Natural Resources finished building a new 40 foot wooden live-in-tower. In 1962, a survey party noted that the new tower replaced "the old tower" so it is quite possible a 90 foot tower was there before. The 1953 aerial photo below seems to me to show there was a large tower. The 1957 tower lasted until 1970. In 2000, lookout enthusiast Irene Potter visited the location right after a harvest and found at least one footing and an eyebolt as seen in the picture below. My visit in 2016 could not find the footings. A few months before, a pre-commercial thinning crew had been there. This means around 50 percent of the trees had been cut down and were left laying on the ground, likely any footings. All views from the year 2000 harvest are completely gone with the new timber vigorously growing again, likely a 4th rotation.
Elevation: 730 feet
Distance: 3.6 miles
Elevation Gain: 700 feet
Access: Good gravel (permit required)
Washington Lookout Sites
Take Highway 12 to the Montesano Devonshire Exit. Get on the Wynochee Valley Road and follow several miles to the Black Creek Road. Turn right on Black Creek Road and follow until it becomes dirt and the end of a county road sign. Keep going, now on a old mainline called the Wilkie Line. At a Y, go right, soon hitting another Y, go left. Within a mile or so you will see a gate and signs saying you should have a permit if entering. There is parking for two cars. This is a good trip for a bicycle. This gate/road is a non-haul route so your only traffic will be vehicles with driving recreation permits.
My route is one of many options and starting points to the lookout. Use the map provided. Harvest operations are your only issue that could stop you but most of the merchantable timber has been removed along this route. See restrictions below.
As of 2016, the private timber company (Weyerhaeuser) requires a permit for anyone to access the area. The permit is called the Aberdeen Satsup Permit Area. The permit is expensive for one visit but purchasing the less expensive Aberdeen General Access Permit allows visitation to this area during the off season Feb 1st to July 31st. The Aberdeen General Access will get you into much more area and has a vehicle use or no vehicle pricing. Inquire their website to see changes to rules.
1953 aerial view
Gate I started at
Prices Peak from the knob to its NW
Prices Peak summit and lookout site
The road arriving at the summit
Year 2000 Irene Potter photo
Views from near the summit
Views from near the summit
This was on the tree farm but not near the summit
Trees blocking views at the summit
This lookout intersects with Minot Mountain, Camp 5, and Simpson Lookouts, and has already proved its value in the chain." (1940: 33rd Annual Report of the Washington Forest Fire Association)