Five Mile Lookout Tower (Mt. Hood National Forest)
Hiking is nature’s way of punishing the out of shape. So you have two choices: suck it up, buttercup or choose the easy trails. I do a little of both since I am plain lazy. The forests surrounding Portland have a unique draw for me. They are pretty, almost always green, and can be totally quiet. Last summer my family took a unique camping trip to a fire tower.
Dorking around on the net I was reading about fun things to do on the U.S. Forest Service site and found the reservation for fire towers. Awesome! I remember camping in a few when I was younger with my family; it was fun and memorable. My husband said book it now. Every date I check was booked — seems it’s a very popular thing to do. After searching for a bit I found a date in May, booked it and set the plans in motion.
Note for 2017: It looks like all dates are full through the summer, but bookmark the reservation page to check dates for 2018!
Mt. Hood from the roadside.
The day was sunny and perfect to head out camping. We camped at the Five Mile Butte Lookout in the Mt. Hood National Forest. When you book a night or more with the intent of staying in the tower the Forest Service gives you a code for the gate that blocks the road so you can drive right up. No sherpas required!
Drive-able Forest Service road on way up to lookout off the main highway.
We started up the tower with the super-secret code the Forest Service gave us to get in the tower door.
That’s me and that’s as far as I got. IT WAS SUPER HIGH! My husband called me a big baby.
After settling in and getting acclimated (setting the campfire, looking at the outhouse, pretending to barf because of the smell and hauling up our sleeping bags with the cool trolley) we took a nice long walk around the area. The views were sublime. The hiking was easy and fairly flat so it would be perfect for families with little ones. Despite the fact that I slept in the backseat of the jeep with the dog (both of us are babies) and the boys were up the tower bonding I was surprised at the relative ease of the experience.
One thing to note. Although you have the right use the space there will be people popping through to hike the area or bike the trails that are around. We even had a scout troop hike in so we offered to let them up the tower steps to enjoy the view.
My son & I. See how easy it is to get there? I parked the car right next to the tower.
I could ramble for pages on the campfire, smores, brushing teeth without water, imaginary bears, and the heated discussion with a seven-year old about peeing in the outhouse vs peeing on a tree but I won’t. Instead I think I will research more places to hike around Oregon’s Fire Towers because although I do like nature I really, really like the flat trails better!
Guest post by Laura Bruck.
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