East Butte Lookout


Click on the lookout to go inside


Administrative agency:  Deschutes NF
Staffing status:
  contract position
  6400 ft
  1995 30ft wooden tower with wooden L-4 cab replica containing metal shutter props, built to replicate the original, some modifications were made for modern safety standards
Access:  access is possible from several different directions, one way is to access the China Hat GS area from the west, it is paved a good amount of the way, with maybe 6 miles of gravel road driving necessary to get into the area, there are several ways to get to the lookout road from this area, some of the road signs are missing, several homemade signs are present and very helpful, it can be a little sketchy, bringing a map and having a little extra time is a good idea, you have come to the correct spur road when you reach a gate, it maybe opened during fire season but could easily be closed as well, from there it is around 1.5 miles to the lookout, an OHV trail also climbs to the summit and is used frequently
Road conditions:
  the paved road is in rather good condition but is somewhat bumpy in places, the gravel road is in pretty good condition but does diminish somewhat near the gate, from the gate the road is mostly dirt and is a little rough in some spots
  the interior is on the higher end as quality goes, it includes large single pane windows which although may not quite follow the historic design of 9 panes per window, make working much easier, the lookout also contains very nice woodwork, a bed, table, nice shelving, a propane stove, heater, refrigerator built into a cabinet, as well as propane lighting appropriately spaced throughout the cab, even a screen door not often seen at lookouts
Other structures on summit:
  a garage which is likely the original sits near the lookout, it is used for storage, a permanently mounted propane tank also sits nearby as does a root cellar type structure which houses a large water tank for use of the lookouts and as an emergency water source, a FS radio repeater building sits slightly away from the other structures, several small solar panels are mounted on the building, a newer vault toilet is now in use, with the old outhouse having been filled in, Paul adapted it to being used as a shower enclosure, a solar shower sits outside in the sun supported at the appropriate angle, when heated it is then moved into the building and lifted to the top with a winch, providing a solar heated gravity flow shower, the summit also contains nice gravel pathways and at least one picnic table
Electric energy source:
  the lookout appears to have only one panel which likely belongs to the lookouts, it is mounted so it can be turned throughout the day to follow the sun, it powers the radio and cell phone along with ham radio equipment and other accessories 
  East Butte is the eastern most staffed lookout on the Deschutes, sitting in an area not seen much by other lookouts, it receives a good amount of activity throughout the summer, on one occasion a fire started below the summit but was not visible from the lookout, although the hint of smoke was in the air, by the time it was detected an air tanker was dispatched and was able to dump a load of retardant just in time to save the lookout, the summit is well treed with a small battle going on to keep visibility clear from the tower, a park like setting is present at the summit with nice walkways and a picnic table, the view takes in a good amount of forest and some mountains in the distance

Paul and Chris Boring have been working East Butte for a good number of years and have also worked Sand Mountain, Sisi Butte, and Tamarack Mountain, they are very nice people and really enjoy working as lookouts and are very fond of East Butte, making this a great lookout to visit

Visited:  Dominic Luebbers August 2002


this photo taken from the helipad area




the flagpole and water tank building are visible, the clothesline object is actually a ham radio antenna

although hard to see in this photo, Fox Butte Lookout is visible between the saddle




looking somewhat weathered after camping for several days I pose for a photo at the base of East Butte
special thanks to Paul and Chris Boring for the photo

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All content copyright Dominic Luebbers
Email: dominic@forestlookout.com