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 Ranger District and Sand Mountain Society volunteers

Situated in the High Cascades between the Mt. Jefferson Wilderness and the Mt. Washington Wilderness, 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 peaks and the accompanying wilderness are vividly detailed to the southeast. Carpenter Mountain Lookout and Coffin Mountain Lookout are easily viewed with binoculars.

Sand Mountain is an easily disturbed volcanic environment, with unique dwarf flora and fauna. Please follow the trail and respect the fragility of the terrain. This area is unique, beautiful, and a fascinating example of how volcanic activity shapes an area.

Due to the sandy soils and areas laden with lava rock, the section of the historic Santiam Wagon Road through the Sand Mountain area was one of the most challenging parts of the journey for early travelers.

At a Glance

Current Conditions: New for 2021 trails in Mt. Jefferson, Mt. Washington, and Three Sisters Wilderness Areas will require a Central Cascades Wilderness Permit for overnight use and some will require one for day-use.Learn more.
Restrictions: No off-trail hiking due to fragile terrain recovering from disturbance.
Information Center: McKenzie River Ranger District

General Information


From McKenzie Bridge, OR, travel east on Highway 126 for 29.5 miles to Santiam Pass.  

Turn right, heading south on Big Lake Road (Forest Road 2690).  

Follow Big Lake Road for 3 miles to Forest Road 810 (Old Santiam Wagon Road).  

Turn right on Forest Road 810, heading west 3 miles to the junction with Forest Road 866.  

At this point, Forest Road 810 winds south up Sand Mountain past a gate to Sand Mountain Lookout.

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5459 Feet