Black Butte Lookout


Click on the lookout to go inside


Administrative agency:  Deschutes NF
Staffing status: 
Paid position
65ft modern L-6 built in 1995
the shortest access from highway 126 requires driving approximately 4 miles on a paved road, then around 6 miles on a gravel road to reach the trailhead, then hike two miles of trail to the lookout, the FS road is signed at the highway junction, it is then signed again at the gravel road junction, specifically mentioning the Black Butte trail, it also mentions that trailers are not recommended beyond that point, a NW Forest Pass sign is present at the trailhead, as well as some other signs and a fence, it is well marked, the trail is moderately difficult, and is rather heavily used,  the lookout buildings on the summit are closed to the public
Road conditions: 
the paved road is in pretty good condition, the gravel portion had a lot of wash boarding on it during my visit, it is windy in some places and should be taken slowly
The interior of the tower consists of a propane heater, benches surrounding the walls, and some shelves
Other structures on summit: 
a crows nest was built around 1910, a copula cabin was built in the 1920's, in 1934 an 82ft L-6 tower was built and used until approximately 1990 when it was condemned, it fell due to heavy ice in the winter of 2001-2002, in 1980 a log cabin was built for the lookout to live in, until that time the lookout had been living in the copula, the present tower was lifted to the summit in 1995, it had been assembled below and was then lifted by a helicopter in two pieces, the copula is now used for storage, the old tower is presently lying in a pile surrounded by construction fencing, and a radio repeater building sits near the new tower, two larger propane tanks are present for the tower and cabin, these are flown up via helicopter
Electric power source: 
the radio repeater has several solar panels mounted on it, which may also power the lookout, loads in the lookout include lighting, radio and phone, the cabin also has a solar panel mounted on it which powers several florescent lights, a charger for the handheld radio as well as extra outlets
this is the perfect location for a lookout, it has a commanding view of surrounding area, many mountains are visible as are many homes and farms, Black Butte can be seen from many other lookouts, as well as many roads and highways in the area, the lookout reports many fires during the season, the summit is very popular and receives many hikes daily and thus the lookout is closed to visitors, however the view from the ground is good and there are many interpretive signs on the summit as well as several on the walk up, at least one pole that once held the lookout phone line is in place as well
Dominic Luebbers August 2002


the new tower viewed from the copula

remnants of the old tower with the new tower in the background

the copula stands in good condition

Mt. Jefferson in the background

the cabin with Three Finger Jack in the distance

the lookout from a little over halfway up the trail

the remains of the old L-6


the copula and cabin with Three Finger Jack and Mt. Jefferson in the distance as view from the new tower

Mt. Washington is on the left looking into the Sand Mountain area


another view of Mt. Jefferson

Black Butte viewed from Henkle Butte Lookout

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All content copyright Dominic Luebbers