Grouse Ridge Fire Lookout - Tahoe
Grouse Ridge Lookout Peace sign
Grouse Ridge Lookout needs repair
Grouse Ridge Lookout Topo map: elevation of the fire lookout is 7,711 feet
Grouse Ridge Restoration Team
Tahoe Fire Lookouts
This is located about a two hour drive from Sacramento in the Tahoe National Forest. The hike takes you around a number of lakes and follows some old mining trails. The end point of the hike is a visit to the Grouse Ridge Lookout. This Forest Service fire lookout was built in 1923, but has been vacant and vandalized since the 1970s. You cannot go into the building. You can walk around the balcony, which was quite windy. The Lookout provides a beautiful vista at an elevation of 7711 feet.
Lookouts on the Tahoe National Forest
Since the early 1900s lookouts have been a part of the western landscape serving as a platform for early forest observers watching for tell-tale wisps of smoke of possible wildfires. In the Tahoe National Forest, more than 20 lookouts were constructed over the years. As communication systems improved, the number of staffed lookouts has decreased. Now there are 3 that provide oversight during the summer months: Saddleback to the north; Babbit Peak on the east; and Duncan Peak in the south.
Some of the lookouts, in various states of disrepair, are not in use and some have been dismantled. Others however are being restored. Calpine Lookout on the northeast edge of the forest, has been fully restored and is available as a rental through the National Reservation System. Sardine Lookout, also on the eastern edge of the forest, is currently undergoing restoration.
Grouse, One of the Oldest Lookouts
Grouse Ridge Lookout, located in the central part of the TNF is one of the oldest lookouts. It was built in 1923 and was last used in the 1970s. Winter storms, summer sun and vandals have taken their toll on the structure, however. The interior has been gutted, cabinets torn out, and windows broken. On the exterior, the siding, foundation and roof are all in need of substantial repair work. The outhouse also needs extensive renovation.
As part of the Forest Fire Lookout Association (FFLA), a non-profit to preserve historic lookouts, the Grouse Ridge Restoration Team is restoring the lookout. Since it is eligible for the National Historic Register, restoration will need to follow historic guidelines while bringing the facility up to current building and safety codes. A group of volunteers, contractors, and others have developed the plans and work schedule to rehab the lookout. Although it is possible that the work will be completed in 2010, it is expected that it will take at least 2 years for completion.
Give a Gift of History Give a Gift of the Sky!
Even though all labor will be donated, the materials will cost $25,000. A fundraising effort is underway to solicit donations. All donations are tax deductible. Those donating $50 will receive a photo of the lookout surrounded by swirling stars. Those donating $250 or more will receive at least one nights stay at the lookout. Donors will be identified through either plaques at the site, at a Nevada County community venue, and/or in a notebook at the lookout.
Once restored, the lookout will be added to the facilities available as a rental by the Forest Service. Spartan accommodations will be provided in this 14×14 foot building including twin beds, propane stove and heater, and possibly propane lighting. Guests will need to bring food, utensils, water, and bedding. Although the nightly fee has not been established, it is expected that these fees will be sufficient to maintain the structure. It is also expected, based on the popularity of other rental lookouts, that Grouse will be in constant demand. In an average year, it would be available from late June through mid October, depending on snow levels. For the snowmobiling crowd, the season could be extended into the winter.
A Room with a View!
If you have never experienced the view from a lookout imagine 360 degrees of an unobstructed blue sky underscored by dramatic mountains and ridges in the Northern Sierra. Snow laden peaks, deeply scored canyons, and elfin trees surround the rocky outcrop on which the lookout sits. Mount Lassen, the coast range, the Sierra Crest, and Desolation Wilderness can be viewed from the deck of the lookout.
Recreation Opportunities in Spitting Distance
Located within a ¼ mile of the Grouse Ridge Campground and Trail head, this lookout can serve as headquarters for an outdoor get-away. In the heart of the Tahoe National Forest, it overlooks the Grouse Lakes area, Lake Spaulding and Bowman Reservoir; all popular recreation sites. Hundreds of jewel-like lakes are scattered throughout the Grouse Lakes area, a non-motorized area. Hiking, mountain biking, and horseback riding are all very popular. Incredible wildflower strewn hillsides and ridges provide the backdrop for meandering streams and grassy meadows.
Want to Know More?
If your group or club is interested in a presentation on the lookout and the restoration process or if you would like to know more about Grouse, contact: Rich Veal 530-272-7109 or Chris Hersey 530- 477-2510. A website has been established at www.grouseridgelookout.com with additional information.
Stories, Photos and Art Work Needed
If you have information, old stories, current photos, old photos or any art work of the lookout, we would welcome your donation. We hope to include these items in a notebook at the lookout or on the web. Please contact Ann Westling 530- 478-6205 if you have these to donate. If you would like to be added to the email list for ongoing information about the restoration process, also contact Ann.
Tahoe Fire Lookouts