Sand Mountain Lookout


Elevation: 5459 ft.
Built: L-4 "Grange Hall" style gable-roof replica
Trail: ¼ mile, easy.
Staffing: currently staffed seasonally by McKenzie River R.D. and Sand Mountain Society volunteers

Situated in the High Cascades between the Mt. Jefferson and the Mt. Washington Wildernesses, this lookout replica watches over a Geological Special interest Area. It is a unique formation of a series of cinder cones aligned along a fault. This unusual volcanic phenomenon can be easily viewed from the summit. Also visible are the Black Sand Flats and the Sand Mountain Burn area. Mount Washington rises sharply and spectacularly over Big Lake directly to the East, and the Three Sisters and the accompanying wilderness are vividly detailed to the southeast. Carpenter Mountain and Coffin Mountain lookouts are easily viewed with binoculars.

Sand Mountain is an easily disturbed volcanic environment, with unique dwarf flora and fauna. It is important to follow the trail and respect the fragility of the terrain, as it is still recovering from unauthorized off-road traffic. Everyone, including children and animals should remain on the trail. This area is unique, beautiful, and a fascinating example of how volcanic activity shapes an area.

For an unusual experience, follow the trail around the crater below the lookout tower on the south peak. The rainbow effect of many-colored rock sloughing is quite beautiful. The lookout or volunteer will usually be glad to visit and help when possible, but be aware of lightning activity and occasional high winds.

At a Glance

Fees No Fee
Restrictions: No off-trail hiking due to fragile terrain recovering from disturbance.
Information Center: McKenzie River Ranger District



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Day Hiking

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