Bear Mountain Lookout

IMG_6207 So you like the postcard/greeting card, do ya’? Let’s get your prepped for an adventure to the Bear Mountain Lookout. WHAT YOU’LL SEE:

  • Mount Shasta, Castle Crags, Fall River/MacArthur California (Big Lake) Adjumawi State Park, Mount Lassen, Soldier Peak, the mountains surrounding Medicine Lake, & a really cool fire lookout tower at the top. An unhindered view from the top of a mountain.

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  • I was safely able to take a Subaru outback up the mountain. I do not recommend low to the ground cars. You need a small amount of clearance and to drive carefully.
  • There is a yellow gate that blocks the road up to the lookout tower. It’s a 1 mile hike up a dirt road to the top (gradual incline & actually a nice hike). That gate may be unlocked during the day in the summer. Check with the McCloud Ranger District on the details. If you park at the gate, be sure to pull off to the side of the road or back at the last curve in the road (plenty of parking space there) so a ranger can drive passed you.


  • Best Photos are in the morning right as or just after the sun has risen.
  • Winter & Early Spring may have some snowy conditions or a tree across the roads. Not recommended unless you’re well prepared, or instead just want to hike it. I recommend calling the McCloud Ranger District (530.964.2184) during regular business hours to check conditions on whether the roads are accessible to the lookout. Deciding whether to go or not? If you have an awesome 4×4, a shovel, unbreakable spirit, a chainsaw/machete/ax, & a second 4×4 to pull you out, go for it! Or if you’d rather just take a set of snowshoes or long hike.
  • Maps:
  • The closest Gas Station is the Chevron in McCloud, CA.
  • Note that there is limited cell coverage in the area. Verizon works intermittently. The closest payphone is at Bartle.

DIRECTIONS: (EASY) Easiest way to get here is via a smartphone with GPS:  Go to your mapping app, type in 41.301640, -121.719074 and navigate to this point from your nearest location. (MODERATE) Starting in Mount Shasta City, California. Travel approximately 12 Miles South on Highway 89 towards the town of McCloud. You will drive through the town of McCloud, continue a good distance (approximately 16 miles) and you will pass a small 2-3 building town called the Bartle Lodge (remember that if you get hungry). Just beyond Bartle (200 yards or so), take an immediate left on the Harris Spring Road (follow sign toward Medicine Lake). Travel 4.1 Miles and make a right on a road following the signs towards Medicine Lake. Drive a very short distance (1/4 mile) and make a right, following the sign that points to Bear Mountain Lookout. Shortly after that, the road forks. Follow the fork to the left called forest service road 40N08 (you’ll see a brown vertical post with this designation on it). Continue driving down this road (as the main road from here on out is the bear mountain lookout road). The road will eventually start going uphill. Follow this. Drive slow and watch out for rocks/branches/trees fallen in the road. IMG_6217 There is an unmarked road (hard right uphill) that goes up to the fire lookout. As the main road continued to go up, if the road starts going back down, you’ve accidentally gone too far. Turn around and find the bear mountain lookout road. HUNGRY? Remember that tiny building & the town of Bartle (2-3 buildings & a payphone). 16732 California 89, McCloud, CA 96057. or GPS:41.256837, -121.834561 . Well, if you’re there and they are serving food, they have a legendary potato pancake (if Linda is still working there). It looks a lot like a pancake, but with delicious ingredients inside (potato + other trade-secret ingredients she will not unveil). I kid you not, the last time I stopped in there, the guy next to me ate it and said he would get in trouble with his wife for not bringing her with  him. A few minutes later, a guy walks in with his grandson, sits and tells the kid he’s going to have the potato pancake. I rest my case.. 🙂

Visual Directions:

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