Big Lookout Mountain - 7120 Feet
Location: 44.60905°N, 117.27852°W
Distance: 13 miles
Elevation gain: 2000'
Class (difficulty): 1
Time: 7.25 hours
Partner(s): John Platt
John and I headed over to eastern Oregon to climb Big Lookout Mountain. Despite the wintry weather, I thought we had a decent chance of getting within a reasonable hiking distance of the peak via the south approach. I convinced John of this in a lengthy email exchange and we agreed to give it a shot.
We both agreed that we would need to make it in about 10 miles on the approach road to get us within 5 miles of the peak (we were going off distances from other trip reports that put the peak at 15 miles from the Interstate). So we hit the odometer when left the Interstate. The road down low was steep, but only covered with a dusting of snow. As we neared the 10 mile mark, it was steep in sections and covered with 3 or 4 inches of snow. We parked for 2 reasons… we thought a 10 mile hike was reasonable and the snow was starting to get a bit deep on the road.
We immediately put on our snowshoes and headed out in breezy and foggy conditions. After a quick first mile, we stopped to take off some layers. We continued to follow old vehicle tracks, but those diminished over the next mile or so and 2 miles in we were on our own to break snow. Fortunately the snow was not deep and the road was not that steep. We kept plugging along until we broke out of the trees and shortly after reached a gate we had kept in mind for a landmark. The trip report I had read said the summit was .4 miles from this gate… we later estimated it at over a mile from the gate. We headed up and after the first switchback, the wind really started blowing hard. While the snow had blown the path free and travel was quick, the wind was really making us cold. After what seemed to be hours, I made the last turn toward the lookout building, hoping to gain some protection behind its walls.
I bundled up and John poured some tea as we hid from the wind. It found us, so we got out of there quickly.
The way out was not too bad, but the road did some ups-and-downs and the climbing on the way back wasn't a bunch of fun. However, we were soon back to the car and I could melt out. Thankfully John has heated seats, otherwise I don't think I would have enjoyed that trip back as much.
Take the 338 exit off from I-84 and follow Lookout Mountain Road. After you get off the Interstate, you can go either right or left. Go left, then shortly thereafter, you will see a sign for Lookout Mountain. After that, there are more turnoffs, but just continue on the main road. About 15 miles in there is a sign welcoming you to Lookout Mountain and a gated road that turns off to the left and climbs to the summit.
Just follow the road to the top. The terrain up high is fairly open and you could probably save some time heading directly to the top from near the gate.