Sad News: Wildfire takes out Bull of the Woods Lookout

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Loss of an Old Friend

In early September I read where the Bull Complex fire had burned more than 17,000 acres in the Mt. Hood National Forest. Sadly, it had burnt down the Bull of the Woods Lookout which had been standing for 79 years. The news hit home. I have been hiking in the Bull of the Woods Wilderness for over one-quarter of a century. I don’t recall the Lookout ever being manned, but it was always a great place to climb to given the spectacular views in all directions.

In memory of the Lookout, the following is a blog post I wrote after visiting the location several years ago.

The final approach to the lookout

On a hot and sunny day in late August I drove to the Pansy Lake Trailhead on the north side of the Bull of the Woods Wilderness. This is a little-used area but very scenic.

Pansy Lake was my first destination and did not disappoint. As I enjoyed the beauty of the setting, a bald eagle flew low nearby. I’m guessing it was trying to scare one of the ducks on the Lake into flying.

After leaving the Lake, I continued to ascend until reaching the ridge top where the forest became mainly mountain hemlocks and sub-alpine firs. The huckleberry bushes were loaded with tasty berries.

In a couple of miles I turned north, reaching the Bull of the Woods Lookout after a steep ascent. The Lookout remains but is no longer manned. The views were extraordinary, extending from Mt. Hood in the north, to Big Slide Mountain in the east, to Ollalie Butte and Mt. Jefferson to the southeast, and to the Three Sisters and Three-fingered Jack to the south.

After spending some time enjoying a snack and talking to a family backpacking through the area (the only other people seen on the hike), I began the loop back to the Trailhead. After descending about one mile to the north, I took a rough trail back down to the Pansy Basin.

It had been a long time since the blowdowns had been cleared from the trail. I spent a seemingly endless amount of time crawling over, under and around trail obstructions. About half way down I took a break at small and brushy Dickey Lake.

After reaching the main trail to Pansy Lake again, it was an easy but hot one mile hike to the car. By the time I returned to the Trailhead it was 87 degrees in the shade. Too hot to be hiking!

Pansy Lake

Ripe Huckleberries (Black Bear Heaven)

Mt. Hood from the Lookout

It’s way too early for Vine Maple to be picking up its autumn colors

Mt. Jefferson from the Lookout site

Dickey Lake

Lots of recent wildfire damage on the ridge tops

Into the Wilderness

Pleasant stretch of trail below the Lookout

Categories: Oregon Cascades Hikes, Personal ReflectionsTags:

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