Lookout Mountain - Whatcom & Entwistle Lookout Sites
Lookout Mountain is on the east side of Interstate 5 as you approach Bellingham from the south. With Lake Whatcom on the other side, the uplift makes it the 110th most prominent peak in Washington. The long mountain has three highpoints, each of which had a fire lookout tower at some point. The Lookout Mountain Forest Preserve offers an excellent trail to two of the former lookouts sites. Both are now communication tower sites and offer very few views. Although the hike is on a road, most of the trek is in a protected forest with portions that will reach old-growth status within our lifetimes.
Elevation: 2,677 and 2,676 feet
Distance: 12 miles round-trip
Elevation Gain: 2,700 feet round-trip
Access (From South)
Take Exit 240 (Alger exit) and head east. In about a mile is a 4-way intersection. Go straight across and follow the Alger-Cain Lake Road for 4.8 miles. Next turn left onto Lake Whatcom Blvd. Follow for 2.9 miles to a left turn onto Lake Louise Road. In 1.3 miles you will see the signs and parking area on the left.
Hike or bike the main road for approximately four miles avoiding side trails until reaching a "Y" road intersection. To the right is 1.5 miles to the Whatcom summit, to the left is 1.0 miles to the Entwistle summit. A mountain bike trail connects the two summits on the summit ridge completing a loop. It would be best to only come down the mountain bike trail because a bike could literally drop on top of you.
In 1931, the 80 foot lookout tower was constructed. The 23rd Annual Report of the Washington Forest Fire Association explained how. "The tower on Whatcom Mountain is 87 feet in height, and the bents were constructed and braced on the ground and then raised. The tractor, a Caterpillar Fifteen, had ample power and at no time did it balk but pulled its given load to the full." It went on to say that Whatcom County is not easy to "develop a perfect lookout system, owing to its parallel system of mountain ranges. The site finally selected gives a satisfactory outlook and ties in well with the Skagit Lookout. Because of topography, it was a high tower, being 80 feet from ground level to floor and 89 feet over all. The bents were erected from single trees having 20-inch butts and six-inch tops. These were cut within half a mile of the site and skidded into place. The crew was the Whatcom and Skagit County fire patrol crews, which did all the framing and erecting. Considering the work was done with what material was at hand, and the difficulties of transportation, a very splendid job was done. A single ladder was secured to the framing as a means of ascent. One leg of this ladder forms the door jamb; a sliding door, some three feet high, forms the means of ingress and egress. Suitable handholds are placed on the entrance and on the floor inside as a safety measure. The Lookout chamber was formed by continuing the uprights to the desired height and a roof placed on top, windows formed and put in place. The whole was guyed with wire rope donated by Bloedel-Donovan Lumber Mills, while Messrs. Wood and Knight donated the site.
A 50 foot pole platform tower was built in 1929. It was replaced by a 40 foot wooden DNR tower in 1954, which was destroyed in 1968. The footings can be found tossed over the side at the south end of the site. In 1954, the Biennial Report of the Forestry Division said the "Entwistle Lookout in Whatcom County has a 40-foot tower with a 14x14 cab on top. The lookout is equipped with a new type cab designed and engineered by the Division Engineer and prefabricated in the shop during the winter. This new design has reduced by 40 per cent the number of sizes and pieces on the prefabricated building. It is more weather tight and is equipped for cooking and heating with bottle gas. The latter feature eliminates the fire hazard created by use of wood-burning stoves and chimneys in the old type cab. Construction of the road to Entwistle Lookout was extremely difficult since the last one-half mile had to be blasted out of sandstone rock."
The summit of Whatcom was monumented by the USGS in 1926 on this large landstone rock 25 feet in diameter and 7 feet high
The lookout was dedicated on January 10, 1955 to the first fire warden in all the west, William 'Uncle Billy' Entwistle, aged 90, who was hired in 1908 by the Washington Forest Fire association as its first fire watcher. Two years earlier 'Uncle Billy' had worked for Weyerhauser posting fire warning signs along forest trails. Uncle Billy was also present at the dedication as shown in the above image.
Whatcom Lookout - 80 foot wooden tower with a 7x7 foot cab
Entwistle in 1960
Entwistle in 2016 (replaced with a metal com tower)
June 1931 under construction, you can see George Harvey Osborne working on the tower legs. See image below for full version.
Entwistle outhouse 2016
Entwistle Lookout footings tossed off the side of the hill
Don't miss this rock step you get to ride your mountain bike down
As you descend the ridge between lookouts, be sure to fly your bike between the trees in the process. The vertical drop is much further than it appears.
The image below was taken from this location about 2 minutes before reaching the site.
A view near the summit of Whatcom east to Mt. Baker
The June 1931 stamp was written over with 1930 but I think the 1931 was correct based on the written information in the 23rd Annual Report of the Washington Forest Fire Association. The person also wrote Haner Mountain Lookout 90 feet tall. Haner Mountain has been used for Lookout Mountain and the mountain on the other side of Whatcom Lake.
Disappearing views from Whatcom
Trailhead parking area and gated road to hike/bike