Squaw Peak Lookout (Southwest Oregon) 21-Nov-2020

A nice walk in perfect weather. To a cute, restored fire lookout (which you can rent). With wonderful views in all directions. On a peak with an unfortunate name. Efforts to change that have lurched along for several years now, with no end in sight. But the work continues.

The hike up the Little Grayback Trail #921 and then on to the lookout atop Squaw Peak (4,984 ft / 1,520 m) is one of our classic local hikes. Yet it’s curiously missing from most of the newer local guidebooks. Possibly because getting to the trailhead isn’t as easy as it could be. Perhaps because the trail is now maintained by the local Motorcycle Riders Association (MRA) – they do a good job and it’s hard to tell that motorcycles even use the trail. Maybe because if you don’t go for the lookout the trail seems uninspiring. It’s not but whatever.

The LovedOne has been skittish about this hike ever since 2015 (she has a long memory for our misadventures) when I misjudged 😳 the snow and we essentially post-holed to and from the lookout, getting back to the trailhead just at dark. 🙄 Today’s hike had none of that and proved fully redemptive for my past misdeeds (at least those related to hiking). Which is not to say that if I use the words “hike” and “adventure” in the same sentence there won’t be some sharp questions as to how far, how long, and how painful.

Along the Little Grayback Trail
The Red Buttes and Siskiyou Crest from the trail
There are just two spots along the trail where you can see the lookout (arrow)
A grove of Ponderosa pines along the trail
On FR 2010-350 to the lookout

The #921 ends at Forest Road (FR) 2010-340. We walked down 340, past some people camping next to it, to Hanley Gap where gated FR 2010-350 starts up to the lookout. There is one north-facing bend in 350 that always has some snow on it even if there’s none anywhere else. Post-holing here for a hundred yards or so is not unheard of.

The Squaw Peak Lookout, buttoned-up for the winter
Lunch at the lookout with snowy Mount McLoughlin on the horizon and the RAWS station on the right

The lookout was originally built in 1942 and was recently refurbished so it could enter the Forest Service’s lookout rental program. There’s a Remote Area Weather Station (RAWS) next to the lookout and its data are accessible online. So it was 38°F (3.3°C) with a 10 mph (4.5 m/s) breeze and 29% relative humidity and pleasantly warm in the sun while we ate lunch. 🙂 After the meal came the views. 😀

To the east, Mount McLoughlin
To the west, the Red Buttes
Also to the west, Grayback Mountain (G) and Big Sugarloaf Peak (B)
Again to the west, Grayback Mountain (G), Big Sugarloaf Peak (S), and Baldy Peak (B), with the lookout’s refurbished outhouse (O) in the foreground
Grayback and Big Sugarloaf from the lookout’s back porch
To the north, an inversion fog blanketed Medford and the Bear Creek Valley
To the east, the Crater Lake Rim (C), Mount McLoughlin (M), and Wagner Butte (.W)
To the southeast we could almost see the lookout atop Dutchman Peak (arrow)

And then it was time to head back.

Back down the road, with the Siskiyou Crest on the horizon
On the road, with Scraggy Peak (S) beyond

We got back to the trailhead with PLENTY of time to spare before dark. In all, a good solid walk (11 mi (17.8 km) round-trip with 1,800 ft (549 m) of gain) on a great trail to big views. We passed those campers on FR 340 at a distance (well, except for their friendly dogs) coming and going, and were passed by two motorcyclists on the way down. Otherwise we had the day to ourselves, with all the social distancing anyone might need. 🙂

Our route to and from the lookout

2 thoughts on “Squaw Peak Lookout (Southwest Oregon) 21-Nov-2020

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