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COUGAR PEAK LOOKOUT (MT)



Created: 2010/09/18 08:45 AM        Last Updated: 2010/09/18 08:45 AM


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Camp Details Camp Name: COUGAR PEAK LOOKOUT (MT)
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Camp Type: Public / Goverment

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Cougar Peak Lookout was constructed in 1952 from a Forest Service standard plan for an L-4 style lookout house. It replaced the original structure which dated back to 1930. The lookout was part of the Cabinet National Forest until 1954 when the area was combined with the Lolo National Forest and Cabinet Forest became history. The lookout is located 10 air miles north of Thompson Falls, Montana in the Clark Fork River drainage in the Cabinet Mountains of Western Montana. It commands an impressive view of the river valley and the Bitterroot Range to the west from its 6,694 foot elevation. The lookout was manned during the summer fire seasons until 1979 when its function was taken over by aerial observers. The lookout still receives intermittent use for fire detection during high fire danger periods.

The 14 foot by 14 foot lookout structure is small, but can accommodate two to four people. There is a single bed, a table and two chairs and a wood stove. No other furnishings are provided. Plan to provide your own gas stove for cooking, all cooking, eating and washing utensils and implements as well as bathroom tissue, sleeping pads and cots. There is no water available at the site. Firewood may be collected locally for the heating stove in the lookout. There is room nearby to set up a small tent if additional sleeping space is needed. There is a rustic outhouse approximately 200 feet from the lookout at the upper parking spot. The facilities at the lookout are not handicapped accessible. Cougar Peak is exposed to the extremes of weather. Visitors should be prepared for cold and often wet or damp weather even if the weather in the valley is warm and dry.

Late spring snow drifts often preclude driving to the end of the road at Cougar Peak. Cougar Peak is within grizzly bear habitat. Visitors to the lookout and surrounding area need to be aware of the possibility of encountering a bear. Bears are attracted to human foood, garbage and pet food. These attractants should be stored inside the lookout or in a vehicle. Visitors should plan on taking any garbage home with them. More information on traveling and camping in grizzly bear country is available at the ranger station in Plains, Montana.

Cougar Peak offers an opportunity to experience the live style of early day Forest Service fire lookouts. The scenery is exceptional. Cougar Peak Trail # 541 follows the ridge below the lookout towards Vermillion Pass to the northeast.

The lookout is generally available for rental use from July 1 through September 15.



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Camp Location

Latitude:47.4641457
Longitude:-114.8831165

Directions (Google Directions):

From Thompson Falls, Montana take U.S. Highway 200 west for approximately one mile. Turn right onto the Blue Slide Road before crossing the Clark Fork River bridge. Follow the Blue Slide Road about eight miles to the junction with Forest Road 403. Turn right and follow this road 14.3 miles to the lookout. There are two gates on the Cougar Peak Road. The first is located about two miles up from the Blue Slide Road. This gate is open for vehicular traffic form May 15 to October 15 annually. The upper gate is located about one mile below the lookout and is closed year round to prevent vandalism to the lookout.There is a largeparking area before the end of the road and a very small parking spot at the end of the road.


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Phone: 406-826-3821
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408 CLAYTON, PO BOX 429 PLAINS MT USA

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