On the Lookout

BEGINNING IN THE 1930s, the Civilian Conservation Corps erected thousands of fire lookouts throughout the West. Today, modern technologies handle most of the fire-spotting duty, yet some of these outposts remain open to visitors. All that’s required to see one is a pair of hiking boots and knowing where to look.

Desolation Peak
Jack Kerouac logged more than two months atop this 6,100- foot peak deep in North Cascades National Park in 1956. With eye-popping vistas of jagged Ross Lake and the twintowered visage of Hozomeen Mountain, you’ll never want to leave. nps.gov/noca

Red Top
A short one-mile hike leads to this alpine perch in the Wenatchee National Forest between Cle Elum and Leavenworth. Because the structure remains in use by Forest Service rangers, the kids might even spot a real-life version of Smokey Bear. wta.org

Hidden Lake
Clinging to the top of a nearly 7,000-foot granite peak in the North Cascades, and surrounded by a panorama of saw-toothed and snowjacketed peaks, the 81-year-old structure at Hidden Lake is Washington’s quintessential lookout experience. nps.gov/noca

Erected in the 1960s, this station is more than just a mountaintop cabin: It rises close to 70 feet—plenty high to enhance the sight of the rugged Alpine Lakes Wilderness. Easy access from Highway 2 near Index makes this a popular outing. wta.org

Table Mountain
Set in the remote Okanogan Forest, this A-frame offers cave-dark night skies and zillions of celestial bodies. Telescope-toters converge here for stargazing each July. Overnight rentals available year-round. www.fs.fed.us/r6/recreation/rentals

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