Bald Mountain Fire Tower Adirondacks

Summary: Bald Mountain Fire Lookout is a historic fire lookout tower located in the Lassen National Forest of California. The tower has been in use since 1931 and offers stunning panoramic views of the surrounding area. Visitors can hike to the lookout tower or reserve a spot to stay overnight.

1. History of the Bald Mountain Fire Lookout

The Bald Mountain Fire Lookout has been an essential tool for detecting fires in the Lassen National Forest since 1931. The lookout tower is 40 feet tall and was built by the Civilian Conservation Corps during the Great Depression. Over the years, the tower has undergone several renovations to maintain its structural integrity and preserve its historic charm.

Before the lookout tower was built, fires in the forest were not easily detected until they had already spread exponentially. With the installation of the Bald Mountain Fire Lookout, a fire spotter could see smoke at great distances and report the location to the forest service. The tower was manned continuously until the 1970s when fire detection technology improved.

Today, the Bald Mountain Fire Lookout is still maintained regularly by volunteers who ensure that the tower stays in good condition. The lookout is listed on the National Historic Lookout Register because of its importance to fire prevention efforts in the area.

2. Hiking to the Bald Mountain Fire Lookout

The Bald Mountain Fire Lookout is a popular destination for hikers and outdoor enthusiasts. There are several hiking trails that lead up to the tower, and each has its own level of difficulty. The most popular trail is the Bald Mountain Trail, which is 3.2 miles long and takes approximately 2-3 hours to climb.

The trail is steep in sections but provides hikers with stunning views of the surrounding Sierra Nevada Mountains. Along the way, visitors can see a variety of wildflowers, including lupines and Indian paintbrushes. The trailhead is located at the Bald Mountain Campground, where hikers can park their cars and begin their journey to the lookout tower.

It’s important for hikers to bring plenty of water and snacks, wear sturdy hiking boots, and dress in layers. The weather can change rapidly in the mountains, so hikers should be prepared for rain or sudden drops in temperature.

3. Staying Overnight in the Bald Mountain Fire Lookout

For those who want to spend more time at the lookout tower, overnight stays are available by reservation. The tower can accommodate up to four people and is equipped with basic amenities like bunk beds, a propane stove, and a wood-burning stove for heat.

Staying overnight in the Bald Mountain Fire Lookout is a unique experience that allows visitors to witness breathtaking sunsets and sunrises over the Sierra Nevada Mountains. At night, stargazers can observe a clear view of the constellations, free from light pollution.

Visitors who stay overnight are encouraged to pack lightly as the tower is only accessible by foot. However, there are a few critical items that visitors should bring, including food and water, sleeping bags, and a first aid kit.

4. Wildlife in the Lassen National Forest

One of the benefits of hiking to the Bald Mountain Fire Lookout is the opportunity to observe the wildlife that inhabits the Lassen National Forest. The forest is home to a variety of animals, including black bears, mountain lions, and coyotes.

Hikers may also encounter several species of birds, including raptors like eagles and hawks. Additionally, the forest is home to rare species like the Pacific fisher, a small mammal that is native to the Sierra Nevada Mountains.

Visitors should respect the wildlife and avoid leaving food or waste littered along the trail. As always, it’s important to follow Leave No Trace principles and protect the natural environment from unwanted impacts.

5. Safety Precautions for Visitors

Visiting the Bald Mountain Fire Lookout requires some level of physical exertion, and visitors should take precautions to ensure their safety while on the trail and at the tower. It’s essential to bring plenty of water, wear sturdy shoes, and dress appropriately for the weather conditions.

Additionally, visitors should be aware of the potential for wildfires in the area, particularly during the summer months when temperatures are hot. It’s essential to adhere to fire regulations and be cautious when smoking or lighting fires.

Visitors who plan to stay overnight in the lookout tower should also be aware of the risks associated with staying in a remote location. It’s important to be prepared for emergencies and have a plan in case of medical issues or other unexpected situations.


The Bald Mountain Fire Lookout is an iconic symbol of fire prevention in the Lassen National Forest. With its rich history and stunning views, it’s no surprise that the tower is a popular destination for hikers, campers, and outdoor enthusiasts. Whether visitors choose to hike to the lookout tower or stay overnight, they’re sure to be awed by the beauty of the Sierra Nevada Mountains and the remarkable wilderness that surrounds them.

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