Returned from a stunning hike/snowshoe to Hager Mountain Lookout inspired by previous beautiful trip reports. Couple of things to add:
- Definitely consider that weather and darkness can make this an easy 3 hour hike or a 6+ hour marathon experience -- the voluminous reports in the lookout guest book describe both, many of the really harrowing reports seem to involve late starts and darkness/white outs.
- The key to the lookout is hanging in the woodshed. Somehow we missed this key piece of information and since there was cell service, we called the ranger station. The ranger reported that they get this call frequently.
-We did the more traditional winter route from Route 28 (Milepost 9) -- 4 miles up the Timber Trail (160) which is a well marked trail. It followed the trail on AllTrails and Gaia perfectly. Some mention driving up to Hager Springs to drop off supplies, this road looked really iffy and no recent evidence of use this winter. Another route is going further on Route 28 to 36 and then 497 -- reports suggest much shorter and steeper, but these roads are not plowed and definitely some reports of people getting stuck.
- Not a huge amount of snow currently so we found microspikes really helpful, although did use our snowshoes the last 1/2 mile.
- Lookout is well stocked with silverware, 2 frying pans, bowls, 2 cups, couple of water pots and a random assortment of left over food.
- Propane lantern not working (looks like the mantle to one is torn) -- if you turn on the propane for the lantern, it flows continuously so leave it turned off at the spigot behind the stove. The propane stove top and oven worked well.
- Consider bringing some Vaseline soaked cotton balls or other lightweight fire starter. The stove damper didn't appear to be functioning. There is a good amount of hand sanitizer which worked pretty well but we had to search for burnable paper. Plenty of firewood.
Hope others get to enjoy this really special place! -- Birgit
I think the caution you recommend for winter visitors should be seriously considered. I have had two winter stays totaling 15 nights (2013 and 2015), and some of the storms were terrific; not something you want to be wandering around in too long. I saw the same horror stories in the logbook then. The wood stove is an absolute winter delight at 7200' though
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