Every Lookout in Oregon

Sisi Butte

Type: 50′ tower with octagonal cab
Status: Staffed intermittently in summer
Elevation: 5,614 feet
Visited: September 6, 2014

There is no trail to the summit of Sisi Butte, but there is a road, which is gated at the bottom.

It’s 2.8 miles and 1,400 feet of elevation gain to hike up Road 120, which is fortunately mostly shady. The road is in terrible shape (as are most lookout access roads, in my experience). It is very rough and rocky and rutted in spots. I’m not entirely sure my Outback would have made it up even if the gate had been open.

Not too far up the road we saw an RV parked. (We later learned that the guy staffing the lookout sleeps here and not in the tower.)

We made it! This particular tower was built in 1997. It is 50 feet tall and has an unusual eight-sided cab that I’ve never seen anywhere else. The previous tower that stood here was built in 1940. (By the way, the term sisi is Chinook jargon for blanket or cloth, although why they applied that term to this mountain is unknown.)

A nice man named Floyd Walker was manning the tower and invited us up to enjoy the views. Unfortunately the views were pretty smoky thanks to smoke drifting up from the Lizard Fire. Here’s Mt. Jefferson:

Mt. Hood:

The bump in the foreground is part of Sisi Butte. You can see the layer of smoke beyond it.

Looking west:

Floyd said the forest didn’t keep a full-time lookout up here, just when the fire danger was high. He also told us that despite the locked gate vandalism is still a problem, even in winter (people come in on snowmobiles). He said the lookout had been broken into in the past and items had been stolen. Vandals also recently stole the copper wire that grounds the tower in a lightning storm. Ugh.

We bade Floyd farewell and headed down. Going down the stairs is always a little trickier than going up!

There is a geocache in the rocks below the tower. It’s a challenge cache, which means that to log it we had to complete a challenge first. In this case the challenge was to find 15 caches at lookout sites in the Mt. Hood National Forest. It took us quite awhile to find the container, but Greg finally managed to unearth it!

I have now visited every lookout in the Mt. Hood National Forest (except Hickman Butte, of course, which is in the closed-to-the-public Bull Run Watershed). Yay!