Every Lookout in Oregon

Squaw Peak

Type: L-4 ground cabin
Status: Rental
Elevation: 4,984′
Visited: July 3-7, 2019

Back when I was researching my book in 2015 I discovered that the lookout on Squaw Peak in the Rogue River-Siskiyou National Forest had been added to Recreation.gov, but that it wasn’t open for reservations yet. I learned that the lookout required some work before it was ready to rent, including a new roof. The Sand Mountain Society worked on that project, which you can read about here.

In early March I thought “I wonder if that place is ready to rent yet” and logged on to Recreation.Gov. They must have flipped the switch pretty recently, because only a handful of dates had been booked. Miraculously, the 4th of July weekend was available, so I reserved it.

On Wednesday, July 3 we got off to a rough start. There were several reasons for this but the biggest was that while taking a wildflower detour over to the Detroit area on our way south, we got a flat tire, which we discovered when we stopped for a late lunch in Salem. We pumped it up with the portable air compressor so we could get to Les Schwab:

Flat tire

Turns out the tire had been punctured by a big ol’ rock and it was not repairable, so we had to buy four new tires (one of the big downsides of AWD):

With many hours of driving still ahead of us, we left Salem at 4:15 and started driving south. It was dark when finally arrived at the Squaw Peak gate:

Squaw Peak Lookout

After a 10pm dinner we fell into bed and I’m happy to say that the rest of our trip went smoothly and we very much enjoyed our stay at Squaw Peak.

The lookout doesn’t have any furniture or amenities, but is in pretty good shape:

Squaw Peak Lookout

Squaw Peak Lookout

Squaw Peak Lookout

Squaw Peak Lookout

Squaw Peak Lookout

This is the first lookout I’ve rented where the fire finder is still in place and hasn’t been removed:

Squaw Peak Lookout

There is a binder with a logbook and other information inside, to which we added some hiking and history info that we had brought:

Squaw Peak Lookout

There is a Remote Automatic Weather Station (RAWS) up here. It’s a bit of an eyesore, but you can see its weather data online:

Squaw Peak Lookout

Since there are no beds we brought our camping cots, and those worked great. There is no wood stove or other heating source, but it never got cold enough at night that we would have needed it anyway:

Squaw Peak Lookout

The loo needs a coat of paint but is in otherwise good shape:

Squaw Peak Lookout

Squaw Peak Lookout

We found the ancient rusting bed frame behind the outhouse:

Squaw Peak Lookout

The views were great:

Squaw Peak Lookout

Squaw Peak Lookout

Baldy Peak:

Baldy Peak

Dutchman Peak to the east:

Squaw Peak Lookout

Panorama to the north:

Squaw Peak Lookout

To the west:

Squaw Peak Lookout

To the south:

Squaw Peak Lookout

To the east:

Squaw Peak Lookout

There were quite a few lizards darting around. They were really fun to watch!

Squaw Peak Lookout

Squaw Peak Lookout

Lizards
Photo by Greg Lief

There was also an elusive hummingbird we caught sight of a few times. On our final morning I got video of it with the Cascade lily and here is a still from that video:

hummingbird

We did food prep inside:

Squaw Peak Lookout

But cooked outside on our Coleman camp stove that we set up on our handy portable camping table:

Squaw Peak Lookout

Squaw Peak Lookout

It was so pleasant outside in the mornings and evenings (no bugs!) that we ate out on the deck:

Squaw Peak Lookout

Squaw Peak Lookout

Squaw Peak Lookout

Squaw Peak Lookout

Most of the wildflowers up here were done, but a few still lingered:

Squaw Peak Lookout

Squaw Peak Lookout

Sunrise is EARLY this time of year so we never got up for it, but this was post-sunrise on our last day:

Squaw Peak Sunrise

We had some pretty nice sunsets:

Squaw Peak Lookout

Squaw Peak Lookout

Squaw Peak Lookout

Squaw Peak Lookout

Squaw Peak Sunset

Squaw Peak Sunset

Squaw Peak Sunset

Squaw Peak Sunset

On the last night there was this cool ray effect in the clouds after the sun disappeared:

Squaw Peak Sunset

The evenings are long this time of year and the light lingers for a long time:

Squaw Peak Lookout

Squaw Peak Lookout

Our timing was lucky because it coincided with a new moon. That, combined with minimal light pollution, made for excellent stargazing conditions:

Squaw Peak Lookout

Squaw Peak Lookout

Squaw Peak Lookout

We really loved staying here! It was incredibly quiet and even air traffic was almost non-existent.  During our stay we visited Big Red Mountain and Observation Peak, both of which were about an hour’s drive to the east. We also hiked part of the Little Grayback Trail, which is very close by.

If we ever stay here again I’d like to hike to Baldy Peak and its neighbor, Mule Mountain, as well as drive over to the other side of Applegate Lake and visit Whisky Peak. It would be fun to visit the Bigfoot Trap too.

If you go:

  • The one-mile-long gravel access road was steep in spots, but in good condition. We were told that they had done some work on it a few weeks prior.
  • Unlike other lookouts I’ve rented, this one has no amenities whatsoever. There is no bed, cooking stove, light source, or heat source (although, to be fair, it gets pretty hot here so a heat source is probably not needed). You will need to treat this like a car camping trip, except you’ll sleep in a cabin instead of a tent.
  • There were a surprising number of carpenter ants and we also thought we heard a little critter rustling our pots and pans one night, so it’s a good idea to secure all your food in something like a rubbermaid tub with a lid.
  • The directions in the confirmation email I received were wrong, specifically the mileages between turns. Here is what we measured in our car:
    • From the four-way stop in Jacksonville proceed west on Highway 238 for 7.6 miles.
    • Turn left onto Upper Applegate Road and drive 9.1 miles.
    • Turn left onto Road 20 and drive 3.6 miles.
    • Turn right on Road 2010, which is easy to miss (start watching for it after you pass Beaver Sulphur Campground).
    • Drive 4.9 miles to Hanley Gap (unsigned) where gated Road 350 heads uphill on the left.
    • After unlocking the gate, it is one mile to the lookout.

Video:

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