Squaw Peak Lookout (Oregon) 21-Dec-2018

Squaw Peak (4,984 feet) lies about 18 miles southwest of Ashland, Oregon. It’s a prominent point on the ridge system that includes Little Grayback Mountain to the west and Squaw Mountain to the east. A (now classic) new model L-4 groundhouse, with catwalk , was built on its summit in 1943. This lookout was staffed regularly from 1943 until the mid-1960s. Unlike many other fire lookouts in the Pacific Northwest, it was not destroyed when the Forest Service decided that aircraft could replace them. It is still used for emergencies and in early season when access to the still-staffed lookout on Dutchman Peak to the east is blocked by snow. It has recently been refurbished and placed in the Forest Service’s lookout rental program. From its catwalk, you have (if the weather cooperates) expansive views of the upper Applegate Valley, the Rogue River Valley, the Cascade Range and the western Siskiyous.

On gravel Forest Road 2010, you can drive to the lookout (if you’ve rented it) or to within a mile of it. Or you can hike to it on the Little Grayback Trail plus some road-walking. A gap in the weather was predicted for the Solstice, making it the perfect opportunity to see what conditions were like at the lookout. The LovedOne demurred on this adventure, still wary of Squaw from when we postholed our way to it during the super snowy winter of ’15. On my way to the lookout, I experienced various combinations of fog, rain squalls, sunshine, and snow flurries. There were a few inches of snow and blue skies above at the lookout but the usual views were blocked by swirling clouds. There’s a weather station on the summit, which is how I know the air temperature was 33F (with a 6 mph wind) when I was there. No worries – it was still a good, solid hike (11 miles round-trip; 2,400 feet of elevation gain) to a favorite local destination! 🙂

Sunshine shortly after leaving the trailhead
The Siskiyou Crest peaks through the clouds
Sunshine ended and the clouds returned
Then it started snowing lightly
Producing only a light dusting
But by Forest Road 2010, it was snowing pretty hard
But a mile farther on, at the lookout, it was all blue skies above a sea of clouds
The lookout in 1943 (Dave Bula Collection)
The “view” to the west today
The westward view on a clear day: Grayback Mountain (G), Big Sugarloaf Peak (S), Baldy Peak (B), and the old outhouse (O)
The old outhouse (arrow) today
Looking east today
Looking east on a clear day: Mount McLoughlin (M) and Wagner Butte (W.)
Looking east toward Dutchman Peak today; RAWS weather station on the left
Heading back down the service road
Agitated clouds and a snow squall across the valley
Going down the Little Grayback Trail

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