Hike to the Gold Butte Fire Lookout

3.2 miles 800 ft gain  - Out-and-Back Trail

Added by Jeffrey Green

Spectacular mountain views on this family friendly hike. The lookout can be rented. Lookout coordinates: 44.80515, -122.08345

Gold Butte Fire Lookout is a real gem in the Willamette National Forest. At 4618 feet elevation, the nearby Cascade Mountain views are nothing short of spectacular! At the summit, sits a L-4 Ground Structure Type Fire Lookout that was built in1934 to be used as a Fire Lookout. Additionally, during WWII it was used as an early warning station for enemy aircraft.

To find Gold Butte Lookout make your way to the town of Detroit Oregon on Hwy 22. Turn onto Forest Service Road (FSR) 46, Breitenbush Rd. Take FSR 46 for about 4 miles to FSR 4696. Turn left onto FSR 4696 and drive about three-quarters of a mile to FSR 4697. Turn left onto FSR 4697 and drive about 5 miles to a fork in the road. Turn right onto FSR 451 and quickly turn to the first right FSR 453. Park here without blocking the locked gate. Go around the locked gate and hike approximately half a mile to a second locked gate. Go around the second locked gate and hike another half mile. This hike so far will be an old gravel road. Look for a marked trailmarker on your right for Gold Butte. Hike the trail one third of a mile to the summit.

Overall the hike up to the summit is fairly easy and free of hazards. It took me about an hour. The hiking trail is in great shape, has a few gentle switchbacks, and is clearly marked. Once at the summit I was impressed by the beauty of the Fire Lookout structure. Since I was there in the winter, the structure was winterized, so I couldn't see through the windows or go inside. I hope to return in the summer. Volcanos I could see from the summit were, Mt. Saint Helens, Mt. Hood, Mt. Jefferson, North Sister, Middle Sister, and South Sister.

While waiting for sunset I was exploring a small boulder field at the summit and accidentally stumbled across a military ammo can that turned out to be a Geocache. Since I'm a Geocacher, I went ahead and opened it, signed the logbook, deposited a geo trinket (paracord braclet), and took a geo trinket (dog leash). Then I returned the Geocache exactly how I found it, and made sure to log the find on the worldwide Geocache Internet database the next day.

Once sunset was in full swing, I was absolutely treated to an incredible lightshow. I took many landscape photos until dark then packed up all my gear. With my headlamp at the ready, I made my way back down the hill under the cover of darkness. The trek down was a little slower than up.

Overall, I would highly recommend Gold Butte Fire Lookout as a great family friendly day-hike. It's not too long or strenuous at all. The mountain views are amazing. As always, bring plenty of water. The Fire Lookout can be rented in the summer via the US Forest Service. For more information on rentals visit Recreation.gov.

Happy Trails!

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Tags

Photography
Hiking
Dog Friendly
Family Friendly
Forest
Scenic
Wildflowers

Reviews

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Overall rating: 

Worth the hike!

My fiancé and I did this hike last fall. Make sure you have a truck or 4 x 4 to get you up to the road, because it’s an old gravel forest road that is kind of sketchy to get there. We passed some people who must have been coming from other places around the area and they were driving recklessly on the 1 lane road before you reach the forest road, so definitely be a defensive driver! We got to the locked gait and couldn’t drive any further and there wasn’t much parking, but luckily we were the only ones there. The hike was pretty much straight up, but very doable. Amazing views of Mt. Jefferson, Mt. Hood and the Sisters on a clear day! The lookout itself was boarded up for the winter, but I would love to come back in the summer to stay overnight!

Rough drive

Went in August 2019 and about 4 miles in my car wasn’t able to go up any further do to the gravel being to bumpy. To be fair I do drive a 2004 Honda Odyssey. I think this drive is 100% manageable if you have a car that’s high off the ground with 4 wheel drive. I plan to come back with a truck.

Quick Trip!

My gps logged me at 2.5 miles. The view is amazing!

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