There is perhaps no better view of Mount St. Helens, Mount Rainier and Mount Adams than this fire lookout about 20 miles outside of Randle.
On a clear day, views open up in each direction from the Burley Mountain Lookout in the Gifford Pinchot National Forest, making the historic lookout one of Lewis County’s hidden treasures that demands to be put on your summer excursion list.
The lookout itself was built in 1934 and is a simple 14-by-14-foot structure with windows on all sides. When built, it was a critical spot for Forest Service employees to spot fires from. Standing at more than 5,000 feet above sea level, it’s one of the most easily-accessible high-elevation points in Lewis County. Because of this, it endures as a tourist site and even a place where hikers and outdoor enthusiasts can stay overnight.
To the north, Mount Rainier dominates the landscape. Look just below it and you can see the Cowlitz River and the country around it, including Randle, Glenoma and surrounding communities. Turn to the east and you’ll get a good look at Mount Adams, which looks very impressive from this distance.
If the sky isn’t hazy, chances are that you could see Mount Hood in Oregon all the way to the south, more than 100 miles away. Southeast brings about a good look at Mount St. Helens.
If you’re traveling to Burley as a destination, spend some time at the lookout and read the notes that people have left about their impressions of the views. You’ll no doubt be just as impressed as the people who have gone before you!
Getting there is the tough part. Right now, this area isn’t accessible by vehicle as there's still snow above about 3500 feet on Forest Roads 77 and 7605. But if you’re a hiker and you're up for a good journey that takes you up more than 4,000 feet of elevation, this will be one of the best workouts you can get. It’s similar to the climbs found on such peaks as Mailbox Peak or Granite Mountain near Snoqualmie because of its major ascents up the hillside.
The Burley Mountain Trail starts just off Forest Road 28; alternatively, you can start off at the Covel Creek Trail near the Cispus Learning Center. Follow the signs up the Burley Mountain Trail and keep ascending upward until you reach Road 7605. From there, keep heading up until you reach 7605-086 and follow the road to the summit. Pack plenty of water and a good amount of food for sustenance along the trip; you'll be burning calories rapidly in no time.
We’ll keep you updated as to when the road to the lookout opens back up; but for now, the hike up to the summit is the only way to go — and what a reward it is!