Indian Ridge Lookout
The Indian Ridge Lookout sits at an elevation of 5,405 feet in the Willamette National Forest. Indian Ridge was named for the old Indian hunting trail that runs along the summit. Views from the lookout include the Three Sisters, which are close and prominent to the northeast, along with views of the Cascade Crest both north and south. The Sand Mountain and Carpenter Mountain Lookouts are visible with binoculars. Hidden Lake is visible below the northern edge of mountaintop. The ridge is covered with open beargrass and huckleberries. Several rocky outcroppings are covered by wildflowers and mossy vegetation, depending on the season.
Built in 1958, the lookout was used for firefighting by Forest Service personnel until 1973. The lookout is still staffed occasionally during emergencies.
The lookout is accessible by car, although the access road is rocky. Guests must be prepared to climb steep, narrow steps up the 30-foot tower to access the lookout's cabin. ThThe 16x16-ft. cabin sleeps 4 and is equipped with 2 twin beds with foam mattresses, a table with chairs, broom, mop and storage shelves. An outhouse with vault toilet is located 50 feet from the lookout.
No heat, electricity or water are available. Guests must bring their own water for drinking, cooking and washing, in addition to a heat source. Propane stoves and lanterns are recommended, since they create less fumes than liquid gas appliances.
Items such as a cook stove, bedding, flashlights, dishes and cookware, matches, extra toilet paper, first aid supplies, trash bags, dish soap, towels and an ice chest are not available. Guests are expected to pack out their trash and clean the cabin before leaving.
From the lookout's perch above the tree line and far away from city lights, guests can enjoy spectacular night skies and star gazing.
A trail on the ridge meanders through alpine trees and beargrass, allowing hikers to explore the mountaintop. Several other outbuildings and radio installations can be explored near the tower.
The French Pete Trail Area in the nearby Three Sisters Wilderness offers several miles of hiking. Cougar Reservoir and Hidden Lake are also in the vicinity, offering additional recreation options.
The Dee Wright Observatory is within easy driving distance. It is located at the summit of McKenzie Pass on McKenzie Highway, State Route 242. The Civilian Conservation Corps built the observatory from lava rock during the Great Depression. From the observatory, visitors can view and identify several Cascade Mountain peaks. A bronze "peak finder" is located at the top of the structure. Interpretive panels, located on the paved trail to the observatory, tell the story of early travelers and area geology. The Lava River Interpretive Trail is located next to the observatory, offering an unusual half-mile hike through young lava flows on a paved trail.
Know Before You Go
Overnight stays are by reservation only. Walk-ins are not allowed.
There is no water or heat at the lookout
Propane lamps, stoves and heaters are recommended
Due to the height of the tower and the sheer cliffs near the lookout, this location is not recommended for small children
There is no tent, trailer or RV camping at the site
Please pack out all trash and clean cabin before departure by wiping down all surfaces and sweeping floors
Guests must close all windows and doors and lock the lookout upon departure
No pets or livestock allowed at site
Guests should contact the Ranger District prior to arriving to check on any restrictions or conditions that may affect their visit
At a Glance
|Reservations:||Reserve online at www.recreation.gov or phone 1.877.444.6777. Two night stay minimum requirement. The maximum length of stay is five consecutive nights per year.|
|Area Amenities:||Picnic tables,Toilets|
|Fees:||$75 per night|
|Water:||There is no water at the lookout so you must bring in whatever you think you will need for the durat|
|Restroom:||An outhouse is located 50 feet from the lookout.|
|Operated By:||Willamette National Forest|
|Information Center:||McKenzie River Ranger District
57600 McKenzie Hwy
McKenzie Bridge, OR 97413
GPS Info. (Latitude, Longitude):
From Highway 126, travel south on Forest Service Road (FSR) 19 (Aufderheide Scenic Byway) to FSR 1980. Turn west on to FSR 1980 and travel to FSR 1980-247. Follow to the top where the road ends at the lookout.
From Highway 58, turn at the Westfir junction, traveling north through Westfir (this road becomes FSR 19 or Aufderheide Scenic Byway) to FSR 1980. Turn west on to FSR 1980 and travel to Road 1980-247. Follow to the top where the road ends at the lookout.
Indian Ridge Lookout is located in the South Fork of the McKenzie River drainage. Cougar Reservoir, the West Cascades National Scenic Byway, Hidden Lake, and the Three Sisters Wilderness are all in the vicinity.
Map showing recreational areas. Map Information
Alerts & Warnings
- FIRE CLOSURES: Cedar Creek, Beachie Creek & Lionshead, Holiday Farm, Potter, etc
- Forest Road 46 open for 11 miles; portion closed to vehicle traffic
- Pile Burning November-March 2023
- Helicopter Operations Near McKenzie Bridge Oct. 19-Feb. 1
- Carmen Diversion Reservoir closed through 2023