Hike Photography

A Hidden Gem – Lookout Mountain Lookout

Lookout Mountain (9,954 ft.) in White Cloud range is a hidden gem.  The summit offers commanding views of the highest peaks in the White Cloud Range. An added bonus is the 1930’s era Fire Lookout situated on the top of the peak.


Access to Lookout Mountain is via a 4.5 mile trail (9 round-trip) from the Rough Creek Trailhead. To reach the trailhead travel 9 miles east of Stanley, Idaho on Idaho State Highway 75 to Rough Creek Road (FS 626).  Travel up Rough Creek Road for four miles to the trailhead. The Forest Service Road up Rough Creek is fairly steep and not paved.  It is navigable for most vehicles.

The first three miles of the Rough Creek Skyline trail (FS 647) follow Rough Creek.  Travel on this section of the trail is good as the Forest Service utilized a number of grants to build well constructed bridges (2014-2016) where there are water crossings and sections vulnerable to unstable terrain.  The first three miles of the Rough Creek Skyline trail are relatively gentle.

At about three miles there is a junction with Garland and Casino Lakes trails and the Lookout Mountain Cutoff trail (617). Take the cutoff trail (left). From this point forward the trail can be quite steep.  A few sections can prove to be demanding.  After about 1/2 – 3/4 mile the Cut Off trail (617) will join back up the Rough Creek Skyline Trail (647).  There will be a fair amount of up and down travel as you approach the summit.  The last 1/4 mile of the trail involves covering 720 vertical feet of gain.

Once on top, a 360 degree view is the reward.  To the south, the two highest peaks of the White Cloud Range – Caulkens and DO Lee – are immediately upon you.  In the far distance is Castle Peak, the highest in the range.  To the east, the Lost River Range, to the north Cabinet Peak and Red Mountain, and to the west the Sawtooth Range.

The Lookout has been subject to a number of attempts at restoration over the years.  However is usually locked by the Forest Services and not accessible.

The trail straddles the White Cloud Wilderness region.  Lookout Mountain acts as part of its border.

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