Lookout! No. 10: Slide Mountain

Or, “The Great Pretender”

Slide Mountain Lookout with outhouse, and Pyramid Lake
Image courtesy Eddie (flyingcamera)

Built in 1969, the Slide Mountain lookout was delivered to the peak by helicopter in 1970 (partially in response to the recent creation of nearby Pyramid Lake). The 365 square-foot structure served but for a decade before its closure in 1980. That makes it the youngest — by far — of the standing Los Padres lookouts.

I enjoy the nearly-11-mile out-and-back trek, but comparing the steel and panel Slide Mountain lookout to the old school (e.g., Thorn Point) is like comparing the Hoover Dam with some half-assed design of today. It’s just not the same.

Slide Mountain Track

The lookout is in that gray area of jurisdictional overlap along the very eastern edge of the Sespe Wilderness. It commands spectacular views of the Piru drainage which those of us who traverse Dough Flat, Agua Blanca, Alder Creek, the eastern Sespe, or Sewart and Alamo Mountains aren’t normally privy to. And though well within the boundary of the Los Padres National Forest, the area including Slide Mountain is managed by the Santa Clara-Mojave Rivers (formerly Saugus) Ranger District of the Angeles National Forest.

Deja Vu, but with No View

On the whole, the Angeles Forest’s lookouts typically fared better than those on the Los Padres, which after World War II saw many of its lookouts fall into disrepair. In the Angeles, it wasn’t until the 1970s and 1980s when budget cuts — compounded by increasingly poor air visibility — forced many of the Los Angeles-area lookouts out of use, though a notable handful in the San Bernardino NF still remain. (We’ll discuss a few of those down the line.)

In October 2003, the Angeles National Forest Fire Lookout Association (anffla.org) reopened the two-story metal and glass structure with the intent to man it solely with volunteers.

Lookout Library

Slide Descent

Don’t be mad, Slide Mountain. Yes, you’re still totally cool. And I love the fact the ANFFLA looks after you (how I wish there was something similar done for the other Los Padres lookouts).

But I know old lookouts. Old lookouts are friends of mine. And you, Slide Mountain, are no old lookout. (But that’s okay.)

Slide Mt. Lookout with fire bird
Image courtesy firelookout


4 responses to “Lookout! No. 10: Slide Mountain”

  1. Colleen Carpenter Avatar
    Colleen Carpenter

    Climbed Slide Mt this past Saturday for the first time and had a chance to visit the volunteers at the tower. What an experience! Good for sure… still a bit sore though. Not the easiest hike for a beginner, but looking forward to doing it again when I am a bit more “seasoned.”

    Thanks for sharing the pictures!


  2. Have firsthand report that somebody zipped up the door to Thorn Point with plywood and jammed up the trap door at the top of the stairs so you can’t get on the tower. I have a call out to USFS Pinos but was wondering if you knew who or what entity may have been behind it.

    1. I hadn’t heard about that! Have you heard anything back from Pinos RD? I’ll ask around.

      1. DS and alll, Bardlero was there this past weekend, and the lookout remains accessible. See https://picasaweb.google.com/bardley.smith/20130617ThornPoint?authuser=0&feat=directlink.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *