Tunk Mountain is a mid-elevation peak located in Okanogan County, Washington. The peak is most famous for its fire lookout tower which still exists today. In addition, the mountain is important to peakbaggers due to its status as one of the most prominent peaks in Washington. With 2013' of clean prominence, Tunk Mountain is the 140th-most prominent peak in Washington, one of only 144 peaks with at least 2000' of clean prominence.
Summit View Of Another 2000' Prominence Peak (Mount Bonaparte)
The summit originally had a lookout tower built during 1933 by the United States Forest Service, but its primary purpose was as a detection point rather than a fire lookout. The original lookout tower was a 40' tall pole tower with L-4 cab. The U.S. Forest Service later transferred ownership of the tower to the State of Washington. During 1966, the Washington Department of Natural Resources (DNR) destroyed the original lookout tower. The organization replaced it with another 40' tall tower but with a live-in cab included. After many years the lookout tower was no longer officially used by DNR, and the organization sold the tower to private ownership during the mid-1990s. The private group has a special use permit allowing the tower to remain on-site, and volunteers maintain the structure. The Tunk Mountain lookout tower is listed on the National Historic Lookout Register.
Tunk Mountain Lookout Tower
Despite private ownership of the lookout tower, and despite the tower being locked-up as a result, the summit area is still accessible to the public. A road system leads all the way to the summit, and currently the road system is usable by any street-legal vehicle. Due to having a vast prominent vantage point and being easily accessible, the summit area has been an ideal location for several small communications towers. The United States Geological Survey (USGS) placed a benchmark disk at the summit during 1936, and that matel disk is still located there.
Communications Facility Near Summit
USGS Benchmark Disk
FROM TONASKET, WA:
1) Drive east along Highway 20.
2) After 12.7 miles, turn right onto Aeneas Valley Road.
3) After 1.9 miles, turn right onto Peony Creek Road.
4) After 0.4 miles, turn right onto Forest Road 3010.
5) After 5.1 miles, turn right (and then continue straight) onto Forest Road 3015. Some maps show this road name as "Chewiliken Road" or "Road 125".
NOTE: This road intersection is actually a large triangular shape, overgrown in the middle. Maps correctly show the triangular shape.
6) After 2.3 miles, veer left onto Road 200 / Chewiliken Valley Road.
7) After 1.6 miles, veer right onto Road 240.
8) After 1.0 miles, arrive at the summit area and turn the vehicle around.
The Tunk Mountain summit is open and accessible to the public, year-round. The peak is a simple drive-up during snow-free periods, and would be a nice snowshoe trek during snow-cover.
Summit View Of Another 2000' Prominence Peak (Moses Mountain)
Public access is not allowed in the lookout tower cabin without special permission.
Public access is not allowed on or in the communications facilities.
During Summer 2011, a sign on the lookout tower provided contact information for people seeking to know about the tower and if there are any questions regarding it. Here is that contact information:
P.O. Box 1769
Omak, WA 98841
(Must include "TUNK MOUNTAIN" in subject line)
NOTE: Northwest of the peak along Highway 20 is a sign pointing up an old road (Talkire Lake Road?) referencing the "Tunk Mountain Lookout". It is possible that road might eventually lead to the correct location and seem like a more-direct route, but the road conditions and public accessibility are currently unknown. Please use the driving directions listed in the "Getting There" section above, until further notice.
Camping in the lookout tower might be possible through the private ownership group. Please see the "Red Tape" section above for details.