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COUGAR PEAK LOOKOUT, MT

Photo: COUGAR PEAK LOOKOUT
Status: Closed through Thu Jun 26 2014   Season Dates
 

Overview

The Cougar Peak Lookout offers guests an opportunity to experience an old-time Forest Service lookout. The tower commands an impressive view of the river valley, the surrounding Cabinet Mountains and the opposing Coeur d'Alene Mountains. The structure is small and is not elevated like many other lookouts, and is available for rent from July 1 to September 15 each year.

The lookout can be accessed by vehicle, although late spring snow drifts may compromise parts of the road, requiring visitors to hike a short distance. Guests are responsible for their own travel arrangements and safety, and must bring several of their own amenities.

Natural Features:

The tower is situated in the Clark Fork River drainage, at an elevation of 6,694 feet, in the Cabinet Mountains of western Montana. It was built in 1952 to replace an existing, older structure dating back to the 1930s. The lookout was part of the old Cabinet National Forest, which was divided by the Forest Service in 1954 to become the Lolo National Forest.

The 2 million-acre forest includes four wilderness areas and a wide variety of trees, plants and wildlife. The area is home to mountain goats, bighorn sheep, elk, moose, deer and grizzly and black bears (learn more about bear safety). Both the bald and golden eagle reside in the forest, along with trumpeter swan, herons and dozens of varieties of ducks.

Recreation:

A variety of trails and points of exploration are accessible from the lookout. The Cougar Peak hiking and mountain biking trail follows the ridge below the lookout and travels towards Vermillion Pass to the northeast.

The Clark Fork River is dammed twice within an hour drive of the lookout. The Noxon Rapids and the Cabinet Gorge dams create reservoirs that have become popular spots for boating and fishing for large and smallmouth bass, as well as northern pike.

Facilities:

The 14-by-14 structure is small, but can accommodate up to four people. There is a bed for two, a table and two chairs and a wood stove. No other furnishings are provided. A rustic outhouse with a vault toilet is available about 200 feet from the lookout, at the parking area.

Guests will need to bring water for drinking, cooking and cleaning purposes, as well as their own bedding and mattress pads, cooking and eating equipment and fuel, cooking and eating utensils, flashlights, matches and toilet paper, among other necessities. There is no water available at the site. There is room for a small tent outside the tower for additional sleeping space.

Guests should be prepared for cold and often wet or damp weather, even if the weather in the valley is warm and dry. Food, garbage and other waste needs to be put away at all times to avoid attracting bears. Firewood may be collected locally for the wood stove.

Activities and Amenities

Within Facility
  • Bed(s)
  • Birding
  • Broom & Dust Pan
  • Firewood
  • Fishing
  • Hiking
  • Mountain Biking
  • Parking Area
  • River Access
  • Table & Chairs
  • Trailheads
  • Vault Toilets
  • Wildlife Viewing
  • Wood Stove
Know Before You Go
  • Water is not available on-site
  • Campfires are not permitted
  • Guests must hike 150 feet from the parking area to the lookout
  • This facility is located in a remote area; before making a reservation, become aware of bear, water and weather safety
  • Aweek before your scheduled arrival contact the Plains/Thompson Falls Ranger District during office hours to obtain a key code to the cabin
  • All garbage, food and personal belongings must be packed out
  • Learn more about the Lolo National Forest
  • Don't Move Firewood: Prevent the spread of tree-killing pests by obtaining firewood near your destination and burning it on-site. For more information visit don'tmovefirewood.org.
  • Don't Move Firewood: Prevent the spread of tree-killing pests by obtaining firewood near your destination and burning it on-site. For more information visit don'tmovefirewood.org.

Getting There:

GPS Info. (Latitude, Longitude):
47.74444, -115.38306
47°44'40"N, 115°22'59"W

From Thompson Falls, Montana, travel west on Highway 200 for about a mile. Before crossing the Clark Fork River bridge, turn right onto Blue Slide Road and continue about 8 miles, to the junction with Forest Road 403. Turn right and travel about 14 miles to the lookout. Maps are available online or for purchase by calling the Plains/Thompson Falls Ranger District.

Contact Information:

Mailing Address:

COUGAR PEAK LOOKOUT
408 CLAYTON, PO BOX 429
PLAINS MT 59859

Phone Number:

Information: (406)826-3821