While driving Southern California's Rim of the World Highway, the Strawberry Peak Lookout Tower is a worthwhile stop for an extra dose of spectacular views. The road cuts beneath Strawberry Peak, but a short side trip to the top of the mountain gets you to the fire tower without any hiking.
This lookout is staffed by volunteers from May through November. They watch diligently for smoke rising from surrounding hills, but they are happy to take time for visitors. You can get a lesson on local geography and how lookouts use triangulation on maps to pinpoint fire locations.
From within the tower you can see along the San Bernardino "rim" in both directions and watch the line of cars undulate beneath you on the highway. Try picking out familiar roads and landmarks on the valley floor far below, and use the lookout's map to name peaks on the horizon.
Strawberry Peak is part of a network of operational fire towers in Southern California that many residents take for granted. Forest Service staff and volunteers watch over the mountains and valleys to keep wildfires from spreading out of control. They sometimes remain in the tower day and night for weeks on end. Be sure to thank the lookout on duty and treat his/her living quarters with respect.