Although often overlooked by its larger, more enticing neighbors, Lookout Mountain is a scenic hike located in the northeast corner of the White Cloud Mountains. It is a great introduction to the area. The 4.5-mile trail to the top is strenuous, but pleasurable. Because the summit is 4 miles from the main cluster of White Cloud peaks, it provides for a grand view. Once on top, check out the old Lookout tower that sits atop the peak. The Lookout tower is no longer open to the public due to structural problems.
When you return down from the mountain, head to the local hot springs for a relaxing soak. Follow that up with a refreshing beverage and a hard earned meal in the mountain town of Stanley, "The Gateway to the Sawtooths."
From Stanley drive 9 miles (towards Challis) east on Highway 75. Turn right (south) on Rough Creek Rd (you will take a bridge over the Salmon River). Follow this steep dirt road to its end at 4 miles, where you will find the trailhead. Passenger cars can make it.
Take Rough Creek trail FST-647. The trail meanders along the creek through a nice pine forest. At about 1.25 miles the trail crosses a tributary creek and then switchbacks uphill. The trail flattens out at a clearing. Just past the clearing is a fork in the trail. Follow the sign to Lookout Mountain (take a left). The trail switchbacks up to a ridge where there is another trail intersection. Go left again. Follow the trail along the ridge towards the peak. The trail dips a bit before heading up a number of long switchbacks to the summit.
Roundtrip: 9 miles
Elevation Gain: 2500 feet
Time: 4-8 hours
When to climb: June-October (road not plowed in winter)
Note: This is a multi-use trail, so you will occasionally encounter horses, mountain bikers, and the dreaded dirt bike. Don't let this discourage you, the hike is well worth it.
No permits or fees. Just sign in at the trailhead.
There are a few primitive campsites at the trailhead. Otherwise, there is plenty of camping in the Stanley area.
Local Hot Springs
Boulder White Cloud Council
National Forest News
Info on the town of Stanley