Extreme Fall Color
Stay In A Forest Service Lookout
By Ellie Jayne
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Is your family craving the fine scent of fresh pine? Are you due for a rugged backpacking trip? Maybe you’re mourning the long-missed fall colors of the wilderness? If you have answered yes to any of these questions you are definitely qualified to visit the McCarthy Point Lookout during the fall. The Civilian Conservation Corps originally constructed the lookout in 1936. It was used to detect fires from 1937 to the mid 1960’s. At that time World War II was going on so the lookout was also used to keep an eye out for aircraft; this was a regular duty until the war was over.
McCarthy Point is a bit different from most lookout towers because instead of a man made tower, a “cab” sits directly on top of a natural rock outcrop. When on duty, one was employed from late June to late September. Watching for fires (and aircraft) is an all-day and sometimes all-night job. Fortunately, new technology has caused the McCarthy Point Lookout to not be needed as a lookout, but it can still be rented out for personal use for $75 per night, with a minimum of two nights required. The cabin includes two rooms: one kitchen, and one bedroom. Three windows surround the “bedroom” so you can look into the night sky. It has overhead propane lamps, two sleeping platforms (about the size of twin beds), and six old-fashioned army cots. Drinking water is not available at the lookout and must be brought in.
McCarthy Point Lookout is approximately 3,600 feet above sea level, located in a remote area in the Lassen National Forest. The beauty and scenery cannot be explained. The scenes of fall color are much too passionate and breathtaking to describe. The lookout sits on the southern edge of the Mill Creek Rim facing north. It overlooks the scenic Mill Creek Canyon and into the Ishi Wilderness, where the last Indian of the Yahi Yana tribe walked out to face the world in 1911. The Ishi Wilderness is near the lookout, providing plentiful miles of the lush forest with exploding autumn colors, hiking trails, and fishing streams. It rents from May through October, depending on staff and weather conditions.
Although it may seem like a perfect paradise, please keep in mind that the foothills can be uncomfortable during the hottest of the summer season, and cold weather can set in quickly. Always stay safe!
If you would like to rent McCarthy Point Lookout, please visit www.recreation.gov. For more information, contact the Almanor Ranger District at 530-258-2141.