Built sometime around 1960, the Clearwater Lookout was a 40 foot wooden tower with a DNR live-in cab on top. It only lasted about a decade being destroyed in 1969. The 3rd Biennial Report Washington Department of Natural Resources wrote “The lookout construction work is performed by the Department's own carpentry crew. In the past two years, the crew completed nine lookouts at a cost averaging $8,000 apiece, one of which is located at Clearwater, Jefferson County." The Daily Chronicle reported in July 1961 “The new 40-foot Clearwater Lookout on a high ridge between the lower Clearwater River and Kalaloch, will be manned Monday, Gordon Grayam, Forks district administrator for the State Department of Natural Resources, said Thursday. The manning will be by a woman, Janice McDowell, according to Grayam. She will be shifted from a lookout on the Quinault Indian Reservation to the east. A man is being hired to take over her present post."
Elevation: 1,018 feet
Distance: 4 miles from gate
Last harvested around 2008
Access: Good gravel roads
Incident on July 19, 1967 reported in The Oregonian
"About 4 p.m. last Thursday a cable whipped through a pile of cedar slash at a logging camp on the North Fork of the Raft River on the Olympic Peninsula. Friction from the cable – known to loggers as a strawline and used to haul heavier rigging about – ignited the tinder dry wood. Ten miles to the north, at the Clearwater Lookout Station of the State Department of Natural Resources, a lookout spotted smoke. He notified E.C. Gockerell, the departments field supervisor, who reached the scene in about a half an hour. At that time, Gockerell reported, the fire had covered about 20 acres, and wind-borne embers were spreading it. By Tuesday morning, the Raft River fire had spread to approximately 6,000 acres, making it the worst in state protected timber since a 14,000 acre blaze in Clark and Skamania counties in 1952."
South Clearwater – Emergency Lookout
Clearwater Lookout Site
At one time, I have a memory of an news article saying that an emergency lookout was placed at or near the Clearwater Benchmark south of the Clearwater Lookout. I have since not been able to locate the article. I visited the benchmarked area but a recent pre-commercial thinning of the young trees left far too much covering the ground to find anything. I also don’t know what to make of the year 2000 photos by Irene Potter in the Lookout Museum labeled as Clearwater Lookout. She seems to have found the benchmark (prior to the timber harvest in 2004) and there was even some debris nearby. But, clearly she was not at the official Clearwater site or she would have pictures of the footings. It’s possible I was just influenced by these pictures to think there was something at the Clearwater Benchmark. It’s likely that wood nearby was for survey purposes only.
A permit is required to hike here from the private timber company that owns the land. Rayonier Timber sold the land in 2016 to Bavarian Timber LLC being managed by American Forest Management. Permits are still sold with key but they are not cheap. Access from Highway 101 through the Olympic National Park strip is a straightforward road with no gates at first.
Showing Clearwater lookout site and the Clearwater Benchmark
A good road to bike
In route view of the Pacific Ocean
Old structure at the summit
Clearwater Lookout footing
Photos from Irene Potter visit in 2000 but possibly the benchmark and not the lookout location.