By Ann McCreary
Lookout Mountain Road, which provides access to a popular hike near Twisp, recently got some long-awaited maintenance from the U.S. Forest Service.
Forest Service Road 4345-200 is referred to locally as Lookout Mountain Road because it leads to a trailhead that takes hikers 1.5 miles to an unstaffed fire lookout with dramatic views of the Methow Valley.
Anyone who has attempted the drive to the trailhead in recent years has had to negotiate long stretches where the road was deeply rutted by erosion.
“The road has been graded so the washboard and deep ruts are gone and the road drainage improved,” said Michael Liu, Methow Valley district ranger.
The road maintenance improves access to a popular destination for locals and tourists, said Twisp Mayor Soo Ing-Moody.
“As the closest and most accessible hike from Twisp town limits, the Lookout Mountain trail provides a short and beautiful hike to a historic fire lookout with panoramic views of the valley below,” Ing-Moody said. “Improved road conditions mean this local asset will once again be better accessed and enjoyed by all.”
Liu said the relatively short hike means the old lookout is more vulnerable to vandals, and asked that visitors report any signs of vandalism.
The area is also being damaged by illegal motorbike riding on the Lookout Mountain trail and along the ridgeline. The trail is only open to non-motorized access.
The illegal riding damages vegetation and the trail itself, Liu said.
To report vandalism or illegal trail use contact the Methow Valley Ranger District at 996-4000.
Editor’s note: To learn more about the trail, visit http://www.wta.org/go-hiking/hikes/lookout-mountain-lookout-okanogan