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The remoteness of the Warner Mountain Lookout almost guarantees solitude on a snowy winter day. But once you make it to the lookout, it is hard to leave.

The interior of the lookout tower is well organized with a sleeping area, a cooking area, and space to lay out gear or do a puzzle. The lookout also provides propane heat and a propane stove for cooking. There are several lights to brighten up the cabin during the long winter nights. A wraparound deck and windows all around offer panoramic views of the mountains when the skies are clear. There is no running water, but there are some large pots for melting snow. An outhouse is only a few steps away once you descend the staircase.

Unlike many lookout towers in the Forest Service rental program, the Warner Mountain Lookout is used as an active fire tower in the summer months. The upstairs portion of the cabin is where the fire spotting table and other equipment are housed in fire season.

From the lookout tower there are a few roads and trails leading to other backcountry destinations that are worthy of a day trip, including Logger's Butte and Moon Point.

 

 

Logistics + Planning

Parking Pass

Not Required

Open Year-round

No

Open from

November 01 to May 15

Price per night

$1-70/night

Pros

Solitude. Beautiful scenery. Nearby options for exploration.

Cons

Up to a 12-mile snowshoe or ski to reach the tower.

Pets allowed

Not Allowed

Managed by

Willamette National Forest

Features

Kitchen

Location

Field Guide

Nearby Adventures

Nearby Lodging + Camping

Comments

11/20/2017
FOLLOW THE DIRECTIONS ON THE RECREATION.GOV WEBSITE! We did not and almost spent the night in the rain and snow. Luckily we found it 20 min before dark. Absolutely amazing though! so beautiful!
01/17/2017
My wife and I booked 3 nights at Warner Mountain lookout in January 17'. We never made it and had to have Lane County Search and Rescue come get us. Here's the condensed version which I hope will be useful for anyone planning to XC Ski or Snowshoe in:

First off, there is mixed intel out there about how far you may have to travel to get to the lookout. I've seen "up to" 9-13 miles. The Forest Service informed me the week of that we should plan on having to do the full 10 miles. It's MORE THAN 10 miles! Not sure why they got this wrong, but OP gets it much closer. We (and SAR) estimated it to be 13 miles. So be prepared. And get an early start.

We brought XC skis and snowshoes. We set off initially on XC, but it was too icy and we just slipped backwards so we switched to snowshoes. The vast majority is a pretty good incline so don't be fooled. There is one section of flat, but other than that it's fairly challenging, especially with a pack. In hindsight, maybe we should have had a sled, but the trail was pretty beat up from sleds so it may have been more difficult. We'll never know.

Fast forward: after 6 hours at a steady pace, we finally hit the 2 Mile marker. We rejoiced briefly, but we were losing light. At about 1.5 miles to go, the clearly marked snowmobile trail hits a meadow and the tracks split in every which way. At this point, we had head lamps and it was mostly dark. Started to feel uneasy. We picked the right set to follow (stick along the tree line, just to left of trees).

NOTE: all of the snowmobile tracks split up into the meadow because there is a shortcut apparently, but we did not know it at the time.

Carried on and came to the 1 mile marker. We had high hopes at this point, but come to find, the sign pointing you towards the lookout was completely buried in snow. The turnoff where the sign is buried is approx. .5 mile past the 1 mile mark. There is a gate with a road closed sign. Next to that gate is supposed to be the sign for the turnoff, but it was buried. There is also a tiny little white placard on the side of the gate that says "occupied".

We were confused because there was no clear marker and the snow was up to our waists and virgin snow. No tracks. No one else had gone this way in some time. Apparently it's very rare for someone to actually hike in vs snowmobiles. So be aware if you are on foot. Go to the right of the gate and follow up the hill for about .3 or .4 miles to the lookout.

We ended up missing the trail and passed it by .6 miles. Pitch black and in a storm, we dug out a tree well and started a fire and luckily got a signal and called 911. SAR pinged our location and they set off to come find us by about 10pm. Lane County SAR does not have snow mobiles, they have modified 4x4's. Shout out to Lane County Special Vehicles Group! They got to within 4 miles of us by 2 a.m. and snow shoed the rest of the way. Got to us at 5:30 am and we had water and snacks and then we all hiked back out and up to the lookout and made it by 7:30 am. Mind you, we are in shape, but were basically crippled with pain because of the strenuous hike in.

The lookout itself is incredible, for the short time we stayed. We had a 2 hr cat nap and then set off back down to the awaiting vehicles 4 miles down the trail. Can't thank Lane County Search and Rescue (DAN AND JACKSON!) enough, as well as the Special Vehicles Group. Truly badass humans.

Moral of the story - If you plan on XC skiing or snowshoeing in during a heavy snow year, it's no joke. Shit is hard.
06/22/2016
Drove out to Warner Mountain lookout this past weekend after staying at Blue Pool Campground. I have read a lot about this drive and was surprised at the good gravel quality. Its about 11 miles of winding gravel road with some breath taking views along the way.(4x4 not required) After arriving at the gate we hiked up to the tower. It had been raining all morning and we got lucky with a break in the weather. The lookout was not occupied at the time and we enjoyed at cup of coffee in the clouds. Spend the next hour reading past log entries and taking in the views. This lookout is in great shape and we will definitely be booking a night in the winter time. On the way back make sure to check out Loggers Butte.
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