Bald Butte Lookout is perched atop the windy summit of Bald Butte in the Fremont-Winema National Forest in south-central Oregon. It is surrounded by forested hillsides and expansive views.
The lookout was built in 1931 and served as a Forest Service fire detection site for over 50 years. It was constructed from an Aladdin L4 ground-mounted lookout kit in which all of the pieces were pre-cut in six-foot lengths or less so the entire kit could be packed by horses into the remote site. The total cost of the structure at the time was $668.49 and only took a few days to assemble.
At one time, hundreds of these types of lookouts were in service throughout the Pacific Northwest. Today only two such structures remain in Oregon, providing a unique lodging experience for guests seeking recreation and relaxation.
The lookout offers basic amenities, though for guests to enjoy their experience completely, they must bring several of their own supplies.
Hiking, birding, stargazing and wildlife viewing are popular activities. Bald Butte Trail is a quiet all-season trail that offers a variety of terrain and wildlife viewing opportunities. Hikers traverse large open meadows filled with summer wildflowers, heavily wooded forests and ridgetop scrambles along Oak Ridge Trail and Surveyor’s Ridge Trail, overlooking the Hood River Valley. Trails in the Gearhart Mountain Wilderness are also nearby.
At night the lookout provides an ideal setting for stargazing, as constellations and planets put on a dazzling display.
The 14′ x 14′ lookout is furnished with two cots, a table, bench and storage cabinets. It is also equipped with a propane heater, cook stove, and lights. An outdoor picnic table and an accessible vault toilet are also on-site.
There is no water on-site, so guests must bring sufficient supplies for drinking, cooking and washing. Guests must also provide their own sleeping bags, linens, towels, dish soap, matches, cooking gear, first aid kit, toilet paper, ice cooler and garbage bags. Although lighting is available, it is recommended that guests bring an additional light source in case of emergencies.
Fremont National Forest is known for its towering snow-capped peaks, volcanic landscapes, wide-open sage basins, scenic vistas and wild places where visitors can still find solitude.
Nearby Gearhart Wilderness offers 22,823 acres of scenic views and primitive recreational opportunities. Throughout the remote area, streams rush through narrow meadows and Blue Lake lies nestled beneath a canopy of mixed-conifer forests. Rock formations cap most of the high elevation ridge tops.