Devil’s Peak Lookout – is an old Forest Service lookout in Mount Hood National Forest. There are great vistas in many directions from the lookout. As a bonus, the lookout is available on a first-come-first-serve basis to stay overnight.

Getting there

There are actually 4 ways that you can get to the Devil’s Peak Lookout. These are listed in terms of the length of the hike.

  • Hunchback Trail – from Kinzel Lake (2.6 mile round trip). For this you have to drive to Kinzel Lake.
  • Cool Creek Trail – 6.2 mile round trip, 3000’ gain
  • Green Canyon Way Trail – 11.8 mile round trip, 3500’ gain
  • Hunchback Trail – 16.2 mile round trip, 3600’ gain

These hikes have a pretty good gain. The Cool Creek trail is possibly the most popular.

Green Canyon Way Trail

We decided to take the Green Canyon Way Trail. The trailhead is opposite the Green Canyon Campground and there is a little parking at the entryway to the campground. The first two miles of the trail are steep and we quickly gained about 2000’. This pretty much puts the trail into the hard category. There are places where the trail is narrow and plenty of steeps slopes.

There is an interesting mix of forestry – some old growth and some that look like it’s maybe 50 years old, with some intermixing of maples and the occasional oak. All looked very beautiful in the fall morning light.

After the two-mile mark, the trail steepness drops off a little, although there are still some steep-sided slopes. After about 3.4 miles the Green Canyon Way trail intersects with the Hunchback trail. To the left is the way back towards Highway 26, to the right is the way to the Devil’s Peak Lookout. We hiked this trail in the fall of 2020, this was after the severe winds of Labor Day 2020. This trail had so far faired well – certainly compared to the northwest side of Hood.

Blowdowns through the forest

It was about another 2.4 miles from the intersection to the turnoff to the lookout. This was generally flatter, although there are some pretty steep, if but short climbs, in the last 1/2 mile. These are some of the steepest sections of trail that really miss having switchbacks. You can see in some areas the wind has whipped through and taken out swathes of trees. Luckily these sections are pretty few and far between.

There were also more blowdowns on this section of the trail. Most of these were pretty easy to navigate around and rarely did we have to deviate much from the trail. On the last ascent, there is a side trail to the left with a sign on a tree marked ‘Water’, more on this later. There is also a decent campsite here.

The lookout tower

At the peak of the Hunchback trail, there is a spur off to the right that leads you to the Devils’ Peak Lookout Tower. The tower is fairly low and some of the views are now obscured by tree growth. None the less from this vantage point you can get some really nice views, including Mt. Hood.

Devils Peak Lookout
Devil’s Peak Lookout

The tower itself is available on a first-come, first-serve basis to overnight in. Inside the cabin are some basic amenities, two beds, a table, and a wood-burning stove. Some binoculars are also there. There is some basic equipment, a cooler for food storage. This time the cabin was really well cleaned inside. There are definitely some kind souls who look after this place. We did see one large rat on the lookout, however, Hunter quickly chased it off and it disappeared into a hole in the corner.

Mount Hood from Devil’s Peak Lookout
Mount Hood from Lookout

The tower has heavy shutters that cover the windows, these can be raised and propped open – unfortunately several of the stays have gone missing – so it‘s only possible to prop two of the shutters up at the moment.

The view from the tower was extraordinary – I am never disappointed by the views and this was no exception, for this trip the weather was perfect. While we were checking out the tower, we met a couple of other hikers – a group of four who were intending to spend the night and two other day hikers. They had all come up the Cool Creek Trail and reported that it was also pretty passable with some blowdowns.

Below the lookout is a wood storage box and atop of this was an ax and saw, so even if there was no wood already cut, you would have all the tools you need to chop some up (and at the moment there is no shortage of downed wood).

Additional water

There is a spring where you can get water. This is about 200 years back down the Hunchback Trail. As you drop down you’ll see a campsite on your right side, and there is a sign on a tree that points towards ‘water’. Unfortunately, if you are coming from the Lookout, the sign is on the backside of the tree.

The spring is the very headwater of Cool Creek. However, the trail to get down to the spring is pretty difficult. It switchbacks down the side of the canyon wall and is now full of blowdowns. It’s also a little further to get to the spring than you might think – probably a good 75-100 yards. It would definitely be best to leave your packs at the top and just take your water bottles down. I’ve been there in both the early and late seasons and found the spring to be flowing.

Summary

This is a pretty energetic day hike, especially if you take one of the longer routes. It’s also an awesome experience as an overnight hike, especially if you are lucky enough to score a night in the lookout!

FAQ

  • Devil’s Peak Lookout – unique Fire Lookout open to the public
  • Multiple option to get there, from a 6 mile round trip to 18 miles
  • Healthy elevation gain – good for stamina
  • Unique experience if you decide to sleep over – first come, first serve
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