Coast Oregon Adventure Travel Guide

 

Lake of the Woods Lookout

by Bret Miller

The Southern Oregon Wilderness was ablaze. 2013 was an exceptionally dry year and the sweltering summer temperatures ignited several fires in Southern Oregon and Northern California. Big Eindy Complex By mid-August thousands of acres had burned and were still burning. The Big Windy Complex fire was in the remote and rugged Rogue River-Siskiyou National Forest. All that could be done was to contain the fire and let it burn out. Bear Camp Rd. was closed by authorities. I had the Lake of the Woods Lookout reserved for Labor Day weekend. I was going to take Bear Camp Rd. through the wild and scenic wilderness to the lookout. I had driven Bear Camp Rd. once before from Merlin through Galice and Agness to Gold Beach. I was excited to share the experience with my girlfriend who had not yet done the drive. But the forest was on fire.

Oregonians don't let little things like this get in our way of enjoying the beautiful Oregon outdoors. Cape Sebastian A little known fact, most of the fire lookouts are not manned anymore and are available for rent. On our way to a hike to a high mountain lake, we first stumbled upon the Bear Basin Lookout in the Six Rivers National Forest near Patrick Creek Campground. The lookouts can be reserved 6 months ahead of time and we were all over it.  The lookouts go fast so you need to be vigilant and flexible. Don't be set on one lookout or one weekend. Have a list of lookouts you would like to visit and several times you are able to travel.

Even though Southern Oregon was on fire, our reservation for Lake of the Woods Lookout was still on and we would take the coastal route. Having made many excursions to the Del Norte and Humboldt County redwood parks, I was surprised finding myself traveling a part of the coast I had never traveled before between Crescent City, CA and Gold Beach, OR.  Heading North and passing through Brookings, the first Oregon town on Highway 101, we stopped at Harris Beach State Park to take a walk and enjoy the beautiful coast and beach. Not much farther North is; the Samuel H. Boardman Corridor that provides many scenic vistas and chances to hike along the Oregon Coast Trail. However, we bypassed these opportunities and continued North to check out Cape Sebastian where we took a short hike and enjoyed the amazing vistas of the coast.

Harris Beach

Finally reaching Gold Beach, we purchased the last of the supplies needed and were ready for the next leg of the adventure.  Leaving the coast behind and heading East into the mountains, we followed the signs to the Lake of the Woods lookout which were different than the published directions and would have been a much longer drive. After about an hour and half driving the winding logging roads, we finally reached the locked gate of the lookout.

Lake of the Woods Lookout

The 360 degree views from the lookout were stunning and on a clear day you would be able to see the ocean being only about 7 miles from the coast as the crow flies. Looking to the West, we could see a faint smoke cloud from the fires rise over a distant ridge. We were also able to see a few lights in Agness at night and the bridge that crosses the Illinois River where it merges with the Rogue River. The accommodations although rustic were more than accommodating and comfortable to soak in the rugged remote back country wilderness. Our lookout experience was truly an amazing adventure and we are now looking forward to our next lookout reservation at Little Mt. Hoffman Lookout in the Shasta Trinity National Forest this summer.

Lake of the Woods Lookout

Lake of the Woods Lookout


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