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Hike to Vetter Mountain and the Fire Lookout Tower

Palmdale, California



2.8 miles

Elevation Gain

550 ft

Route Type



Added by Marc Machin

Not only is 5,908' Vetter Mountain an easy mountain to climb and take in the views of the Angeles National Forest, but there is an actively manned fire lookout tower at the top.

If you're looking for an easy mountain to hike, and perhaps give the kids something interesting to learn about at the top, then Vetter Mountain may fit the bill.  At 5,908', and with a trailhead at about 5,350', this 1.4 mile (one way) hike only climbs about 550' vertical.  

The trailhead is located in the Charlton Flats Picnic Site right off of CA-2 Angeles Crest Highway.  Once you pull in to the area, hang your first right and take it to the end.  As with any parking in this national forest, be sure you are displaying a parking pass.  The trail starts amongst the trees, but that soon ends as this general area was in the Station Fire in 2009.  While the land is clearly recovering, there are no tall trees providing any shade, so most of this hike is exposed.  As you approach the top, if you look carefully, you'll see the American Flag waving in the wind.  It marks not only the summit, but the site of the Fire Lookout Tower.

The Vetter Mountain Fire Lookout Tower is clearly the most interesting part of this hike.  During fire season (may - november) it is staffed with volunteers from the Angeles National Forest Fire Lookout Association.  While their primary duty is to keep a sharp lookout for smoke/fire in the region, they're only too happy to chat with visitors about what they do, and to demonstrate the tools and equipment they use.  The original lookout tower was destroyed by the 2009 Station Fire; it's foundation is located on the rise next to the temporary lookout under the pergola.  Plans are underway to rebuild this historically significant tower.  

Once you've completed your exploration of the area (you learned what an Osborne Device is and how to use it, right?), simply retrace your steps back to the trailhead.   

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Picnic Area

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