|Forest Fire Lookouts, revisions to this page on August 12, 2017
A listing of Forest Fire Lookouts in are provided in tables. The lists contain both current active lookouts and those abandoned or dismantled. The list does not include temporary sites or those planned but never built. Lookout sites were found by examining Forest Service maps and 1:24,000 and 1:100,000 scale topographic maps. For California my intial list was compared to one compiled by Mark Thornton in the 1980's. I found many additional sites from this list. I also wish to thank Fred Johnson of Berkeley, California for providing the Thornton list and other information and many photos.
For lookouts in Oregon I have used "Fire Lookouts of the Northwest", 3rd Ed., by Ray Kresek. Oregon has over 800 Lookouts so to keep the tables manageable I am breaking up the state into sections. So far only the seven southwestern counties and nine eastern counties are completed.
There may be errors or omissions in this list and any corrections provided will be appreciated and acknowledged. I have visited many lookouts, but certainly will never get to all of these sites!
Forest Fire Lookouts in California, Table #1 with Location and Township data
Forest Fire Lookouts in California, Table #2 with Location and Benchmark data
Google Earth Map of California Fire Lookouts, (you need to install Google Earth to run this)
CAFireLookout.gpx This is a GPS file with all the lookouts in the above tables that you can load into your GPS receiver using the free program EasyGPS. Note: There are 505 lookouts on this list and some older GPS units only accept 500 waypoints.
Forest Fire Lookouts in Southwest Oregon, Table #1 with Location and Township data
Forest Fire Lookouts in Southwest Oregon, Table #2 with Location and Benchmark data
The above southwest tables include Lookouts in Coos, Curry, Douglas, Jackson, Josephine, Klamath and Lane Counties. (331 active and abandoned sites)
Forest Fire Lookouts in Eastern Oregon, Table #3 with Location and Township data
Forest Fire Lookouts in Eastern Oregon, Table #4 with Location and Benchmark data
Google Earth file for Eastern Oregon Fire Lookouts
The above eastern tables include Lookouts in Baker, Crook, Grant, Harney, Lake, Malheur, Morrow, Umatilla, Union, Wallowa and Wheeler Counties. (212 active and abandoned sites)
There is a good list of standing fire lookouts in Oregon by Cheryl Hill: Oregon Fire Lookouts
Fire Lookouts - A Legacy, A concise one-page history of fire lookouts and their current status. I don't know who authored this.
A Lookout's Journal by Edward Abbey, from Summit Magazine, Winter 1994-95.
The Art of Mountain Watching by Kevin Grange, National Parks Magazine, Fall, 2009
Guardians on the Mountaintops by John Robinson and Bruce Risher, from the Branding Iron, Summer 1991.
Lady Fire Spotter by Beverly Walter, from Desert Magazine, September, 1959.
Reference: 1. "Fixed Point Fire Detection", Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Nov. 1986, by Mark V. Thornton.
Join the Forest Fire Lookout Association. http://www.ffla.org
Information about Buck Rock Lookout, Sequoia National Forest.
Information on Lookouts in Stanislaus National Forests in California:
Information on San Diego County Lookouts: http://www.ffla-sandiego.org
Lookouts in North Carolina: http://www.nclookouts.com
Fire Lookouts Down Under (Australia): http://www.firelookoutsdownunder.com
Acknowledgment: I received a note from Karen Isaacson Leverich about a possible Lookout on Mount Pinos which is in the Los Padres Forest in Ventura County. There is no evidence that a traditional Lookout building was every constructed there, but there was a "plane spotting building" on the summit during the war years. One of the older topo maps refers to this as a Lookout. It may have been used for fire spotting as well. Fred Johnson reports that he visited Mount Pinos in May 1943 and the building was there. This is similar to Caliente Mountain which also had a plane spotting building during the war. Some of this building still remains in bad condition. Since I have listed Caliente I have decided to add Mount Pinos to the list.
1. Kaiser Peak, Fresno County; Mt. Raymond, Madera County; and Pilot Peak, Mariposa County were deleted after it was found that these were temporary sites with no structure ever built.
2. The elevation of Delilah Lookout was corrected and the benchmark listing was removed since Delilah BM is back on the ridge some distance away.
3. Topatopa Lookout changed to a site since the structure burned in the 2006 Day Fire. Thorn Point changed to a condition B from a site since there is a dilapidated structure there. Info on these lookouts provided by Scott Holder.
4. Snag Hill Lookout in the Plumas NF was added. This is a relatively new lookout built in 1994 to replace the nearby Hayden Hill L.O. when the mining company Lassen Gold Mine Inc. took over the site, and tore down the L.O. (added 3/2009)
5. Mt. Fillmore, a lookout site was added. This is in the Plumas NF in Sierra County. (added 3/2009)
6. In table #2 a column was added to show the National Historic Lookout Register number.
7. Red Mountain, a lookout site in the Tahoe National Forest on the Cisco Grove map was added. This is an abandoned lookout built by the Southern Pacific Railroad in 1909. It is listed as a rock structure so there may be something still there. I have not visited this site. (added 9/2009)
8. Sardine Peak Lookout changed to rental status after word that the Forest Service intends to offer this for rent in October, 2009.
9. Jim Glaser sent me an article on Midway Peak lookout in San Luis Obispo County which I did not have in my list so this was added bringing the total up to 499. Jim also provided an early photo of the lookout on Frazier Mountain which was added to the Frazier page.
10. I have added Grapevine Peak in Kern County. This peak had a lookout tower that was mainly used for plane spotting in World War II, but may have also been used for fire detection. Thanks to Jim Glaser for providing two historic newspaper articles about this lookout.
11. Guadalupe Peak in Mariposa County, a lookout site, was added to the tables. This is one that was missed.
12. Hunter Point Lookout, another lookout that was overlooked, was added to the tables. This peak is on the Upper Lake topo map in Lake County.
13. Little Mountain, a lookout site in San Bernardino County was added.
14. Sierra Peak, a lookout site on the Orange and Riverside County lines was added in Feb., 2015.
15. Zaca Peak, a lookout site in Santa Barbara County was added in Feb., 2015.
16. Tedoc Mountain, a lookout site in Tehama County, California was deleted from the list.
17. Post Creek Guard Station in Tehama County, California was added to the list. This is a cabin that dates from 1934 and is now a rental in the Shasta-Trinity National Forest.