Hiking Eastern Washington's Lookouts
Friday, May 31 -- Sunday, June 2, 2019
Omak Mountain Lookout
Columbia Mountain Lookout
Explore the lightly-visited Okanogan Mountains in northeastern Washington and discover some historic summit lookouts on peaks as high as 7258 feet.
This will be a three-day road trip in the area near Omak, Tonasket, and Republic with visits to five forest fire lookout structures.
We'll spend two nights at the rustic and secluded Bonaparte Lake Resort, on a backwoods mountain lake outside the town of Wauconda. Details about the resort are below.
These are the lookouts we plan to visit, along with the amount of hiking involved:
1. Omak Mountain, 5747' -- Hike length depends how far one can drive the access road. Could be as short as 1 mile, 300 feet gain, or as much as 5 miles, 1300 feet gain.
2. Tunk Mountain, 6053' -- This one is a drive-up, no hiking required! It's likely we'll do these first two on Day One of the trip.
3. Mount Bonaparte, 7258' -- This is the biggie, the tallest mountain in the Okanogan Highlands region. The round trip via the Mt. Bonaparte Trail is 5 miles, 2200 feet gain. Because our lodging is close to this trailhead, those unable to do that much have the option to remain at the resort and relax at Bonaparte Lake. This will be on Day Two of our trip.
4. Columbia Mountain, 6782 -- This is reached by an established trail right from Highway 20 at Sherman Pass. Round trip is 5 miles, 1200 feet gain.
5. Keller Butte, 4811' -- This is another drive-up, with a nice tall tower which provides great views. We'll do these last two on Day Three before heading home.
Mount Bonaparte Lookout
Tunk Mountain Lookout
We'll leave Forest Park in Everett at 6:30 Friday morning (May 31) and head across the North Cascades Highway (usually opens by early May).
We'll go through Winthrop, Twisp (bakery stop, anyone?), Okanogan, and Omak as we head east.
We'll visit Omak and Tunk Mountain Lookouts before heading on to our lodging at Bonaparte Lake Resort.
On Day Two, hike Mount Bonaparte or relax at the resort (rent a canoe or go fishing?).
On the final day, head for Columbia Mountain an Keller Butte before turning for home via Grand Coulee and eventually Highway 2.
Bonaparte Lake Resort
This modest resort has about two dozen campsites and nine rustic cabins in the forest right on the shore of Bonaparte Lake, elevation 3500 feet. Most people come for the fishing and the seclusion. You have your choice of a campsite or a shared cabin.
There is a restaurant and small store on the premises also.
Cabins -- These are rustic, one room cabins. They sleep up to 6 people, but we'll likely put 3 or 4 people per cabin. Each cabin has beds, table and chairs, wood stove, refrigerator, and a hot plate. They have a porch and are on the lake. There is a fire pit and picnic table outside of each cabin. Note that cabins do not have bathrooms. BEDDING IS NOT PROVIDED, so guests need to bring a sleeping bag or their own bedding.
Restrooms & Showers -- There's a restroom/shower house building just a few feet from the cabins. Bring your own towels and all toiletries.
Campsites -- Your best bet for privacy is to bring a tent and take a campsite. Several sites are right on the lake and are just a short walk from the restrooms, cabins, and restaurant. The Parks Department has gear you can borrow if desired.
Meals -- Lunches each day will be eaten while we are on the trails or on the road, so plan to pack lunch food ahead of time. Shopping opportunities on the trip will be limited, so don't count on purchasing groceries. Pack a small cooler if you want, and remember that the cabins have refrigerators. The restaurant at the resort is open 8am - 8pm, so you can get breakfast or dinners there. Most meals will run you $15- $25. Simple meals could also be prepared in the cabins or campsites if you want.
Questions / Requests? Send me an email through my web site