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RichP
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PostTue Sep 17, 2019 8:27 am 
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I'm not really working on a list of lookouts but it just turned out that the three summits I visited on this day happen to be former lookout sites. There were nearly 1000 in Idaho so they are not uncommon. These are all located in and around the Grandmother Mountain Wilderness Study Area outside of Clarkia in Shoshone County, Idaho.

https://www.blm.gov/visit/search-details/14947/2

The 301 road up from Clarkia starts good but deteriorates after Freezeout Saddle to one of the worst I've ever driven. Slow and steady is the key.

Freezeout Ridge. The road deteriorates quickly.
Freezeout Ridge. The road deteriorates quickly.
Pinchot Butte, I assume named for Gifford Pinchot, first head of the USFS.
Pinchot Butte, I assume named for Gifford Pinchot, first head of the USFS.

First up was a visit of Monumental Buttes which is the highpoint of the area at 6994' as well as the county prominence peak and a P2000 summit. The south butte is the highpoint and I walked up an unmapped trail that leaves an ATV track about a half mile above the 363 road saddle. The hike up is only a mile with 700' of gain.

An unmapped trail up South Butte. Likely the trail used by the lookout.
An unmapped trail up South Butte. Likely the trail used by the lookout.
Across a nicely forest expanse, a rarity in this part of Idaho.
Across a nicely forest expanse, a rarity in this part of Idaho.
Lookout Mtn is across the way where I'll be hiking later.
Lookout Mtn is across the way where I'll be hiking later.
On South Butte nearing the summit.
On South Butte nearing the summit.
The way is open but I stayed on the trail out of curiosity.
The way is open but I stayed on the trail out of curiosity.
Rocky outcrops near the top.
Rocky outcrops near the top.
Impressive cliffs.
Impressive cliffs.
These peaks are called Three Sisters. Middle Sister is the highest at 6898' where an historic lookout stands.
These peaks are called Three Sisters. Middle Sister is the highest at 6898' where an historic lookout stands.
Summit of South Butte. Collectively the area is known as Monumental Buttes. This is the highest butte at just under 7000' and is one of the 98 peaks in Idaho with more than 2000' of prominence.
Summit of South Butte. Collectively the area is known as Monumental Buttes. This is the highest butte at just under 7000' and is one of the 98 peaks in Idaho with more than 2000' of prominence.
East Butte and Steamboat Lake.
East Butte and Steamboat Lake.
A brass benchmark. I haven't seen many of these.
A brass benchmark. I haven't seen many of these.
Looking toward North Butte.
Looking toward North Butte.
Snow Peak in the distance. A lookout still sits on that summit.
Snow Peak in the distance. A lookout still sits on that summit.
A hazy view of the peaks in The Mallard-Larkins Pioneer Area, a proposed wilderness.
A hazy view of the peaks in The Mallard-Larkins Pioneer Area, a proposed wilderness.
South Butte from the road on the way out. The hike is only a mile with 700' of gain.
South Butte from the road on the way out. The hike is only a mile with 700' of gain.

From Monumental Buttes I backtracked to Orphan Saddle on Rd 301. There is a small BLM campground at the saddle and the trail to Lookout Mtn starts here. It's an 8-mile round trip with 1750' of gain RT.

Rocks along the trail to Lookout Mtn.
Rocks along the trail to Lookout Mtn.
Widow Mtn false summit. I hiked out there last fall.
Widow Mtn false summit. I hiked out there last fall.
This wasn't even the biggest I saw. I assume king boletes.
This wasn't even the biggest I saw. I assume king boletes.
A fairy circle.
A fairy circle.
Bow hunting season is on. I tried to approach these hunters from North Dakota quietly and walked right behind them for several minutes before whispering "I'm behind you." They nearly jumped out of their skin. They were looking for elk.
Bow hunting season is on. I tried to approach these hunters from North Dakota quietly and walked right behind them for several minutes before whispering "I'm behind you." They nearly jumped out of their skin. They were looking for elk.
The final ascent to Lookout Mtn.
The final ascent to Lookout Mtn.
Lost Lake. A trail comes up from below.
Lost Lake. A trail comes up from below.
Summit Cairn on Lookout Mtn, 6789.'
Summit Cairn on Lookout Mtn, 6789.'
The ridge continues to a northern trailhead 3 miles away at Breezy Point.
The ridge continues to a northern trailhead 3 miles away at Breezy Point.
Small lakes in a high basin east of the summit. This is the headwaters of The Little North Fork of The Clearwater River.
Small lakes in a high basin east of the summit. This is the headwaters of The Little North Fork of The Clearwater River.
Dwarf conifers on the summit.
Dwarf conifers on the summit.
Monumental Buttes, where I hiked earlier, from Lookout Mtn. The peaks barely visible on the right are Black Mtn and East and West Sisters in the Mallard-Larkins.
Monumental Buttes, where I hiked earlier, from Lookout Mtn. The peaks barely visible on the right are Black Mtn and East and West Sisters in the Mallard-Larkins.
Widow Mtn and Lost Lake on the way down.
Widow Mtn and Lost Lake on the way down.
Widow Mtn and Lost lake.
Widow Mtn and Lost lake.
Lookout Mtn.
Lookout Mtn.

Orphan Butte, another lookout site, is located a few hundred feet above Orphan Saddle so I made the 15 minute ascent for a bonus peak.

Orphan Point. I did this as a bonus peak. It's a 15-minute hike up from the campground at Orphan Saddle.
Orphan Point. I did this as a bonus peak. It's a 15-minute hike up from the campground at Orphan Saddle.
Orphan Point was a lookout site as well.
Orphan Point was a lookout site as well.
Widow Mtn from Orphan Point.
Widow Mtn from Orphan Point.
The tippy top, 6254.'
The tippy top, 6254.'
The long ridge of Monumental Buttes.
The long ridge of Monumental Buttes.
On Orphan Point. The lookout was destroyed in 1954.
On Orphan Point. The lookout was destroyed in 1954.
Another view of Pinchot Butte, 5994.' This is the highpoint of a 9000-acre pseudo protected area, The Pinchot Butte Roadless Area.
Another view of Pinchot Butte, 5994.' This is the highpoint of a 9000-acre pseudo protected area, The Pinchot Butte Roadless Area.

There are still 177 standing fire lookouts in Idaho so the list is substantial. Could be an interesting project.  winksmile.gif

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Pyrites
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PostTue Sep 17, 2019 11:40 pm 
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Monumental Buttes is one of those areas thatís always much better in person.

Middle Sister was still regularly staffed in 1977. When it turned moist the fire management officer told the lookout, to close it up, and report down to main ranger station at Avery. She basically told him she was doing fine, and would work out the season at Middle Sister. The FMO didnít talk very much, and certainly didnít want to do so on a radio listened to by everybody on the St Joe Forest, and Coeur díAlene Fire Desk.

The next day the FMO told me to bring her down to Avery, ĎNo Muss, No Fuss.í I didnít look forward to telling a ca 58 y.o. woman Whatís going on? Of course she was bluffing. All her stuff was packed at the bottom of the tower when I arrived. I might have helped with locking a few things up. Everything was fine.

....

Ma Bell had some kind of repeater station in a closed floor level below the lookoutís room. You could hear long distance phone conversations on a couple lines for some odd reason. How the USFS didnít require a phone as condition of use I donít know.

Snow Peak was kept ready for use in unusual conditions. Current building was built in 1972.

I canít remember name of lookout staffed that summer in Mallard Larkinís. There was a third staffed lookout farther south. My vague memory was you could see itís lantern from Middle Sister.
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RichP
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PostWed Sep 18, 2019 6:24 am 
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Interesting stories, Pyrites. up.gif  Apparently, Middle Sister has been restored and is staffed by volunteers. Hoping to check it out before the snows come this year as well as Snow Peak.
http://nhlr.org/lookouts/us/id/middle-sister-peak-lookout/

I just ordered this map so am on the way to seeing someone those places. Looking through the list, I've been to a couple that have no sign of a standing lookout anymore so it might not be overly accurate.

https://bestmapsever.com/pages/idaho-fire-lookouts-list

There is a staffed lookout on Black Mtn in the Mallard-Larkins.

https://www.idahoaclimbingguide.com/bookupdates/black-mountain-3/

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Pyrites
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PostWed Sep 18, 2019 7:36 am 
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For the record our one lookout with her moderately thick glasses reported more smokes than air patrol did that summer.

District was about 330,000 acres then.

Best.

PS Snow Peak L.O. looks a lot like your Black Mountain photo. Itís built on a one story CMU pedestal too, with store room inside. Easy maybe 4 mile walk off good road with lots of places for dispersed camping. Used to have lots of goats. One story is the Snow Peak wolf pack ate or dispersed them. The other I observed is theyíd already stopped hanging around as years since lookout was staffed added up. Speculation was salt on surrounding rocks washed away.
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