Monday 11/11/19 Pechuck Lookout via High Ridge TH (10 miles 3162ft elevation gain. 7.88 miles one way to lookout.). No bathrooms at TH, pullout on the side of road with an information sign and a closed yellow gate. No cell service at TH nor in surrounding area until you get to high points on trail. Lots of semis going through the area at fast speeds so watch out. Road in is paved and in good shape. Beautiful area in early morning with moonlight glow and in the daytime. No fee area here.
Started out solo on trail at 4am no one else at the TH. Trail is uphill from the start, there is an old registration area a little ways up from TH, only cobwebs in the box though. Trail is pretty steep, narrow, rooty, rocky, blowdowns, widow makers and overgrown in areas. Very few flat parts of the trail. You can always make out where the trail is going. There are no signs at trail junctions, so make sure you have a map or pre downloaded map of the area (I use the Gaia app $30/yr and route out my hikes before I arrive).
A mile or so before Rooster Rock the trail gets significantly more narrow with steep downhills on one side. Also a great viewing area for three sisters area on a clear day as I saw no mountain views at the lookout. You can't really see any great views of Rooster Rock unless you hike up to it via trail junction or possibly off trail to base. What I saw from High Ridge trail was beautiful.
The High Ridge/ Rooster Rock trail junction is only marked in pink flag tape (used for conservation purposes I believe by BLM, so do not remove). Trail is fairly moderate in this area with small ups, downs and flat parts. There are a small amount of blowdowns on High Ridge trail.
There is an old delapitated trailhead sign before the road across from the final push to Pechuck Lookout (found a fair amount of trash and toilet paper on high use trails to Pechuck, please pick up your trash or leave the Forrest better than you found it). The final push to Pechuck lookout is steep, small switchbacks with a couple sketchy areas the main one being the rock slide area. (No roads go to the summit). Right off the trail there's a boxy, step stool high rise toilet (last time I saw one of these was at Rainier. Didn't smell bad. I believe it was a composting toilet.).
The space around the lookout is fairly small. There was a trail past the springed cot I did not check it out (might have views to the South?) The lookout inside is nice and cool with no fire area. You are able to stay overnight without reservations. There is a table and 4 wood cot tables for sleeping. There is a ladder that goes to top of lookout (I did not check it out). A registration book in a green ammo box and a first aid kit under the table. From High Ridge TH to lookout was 7.88 miles one way.
I had the lookout to myself for 15+ mins before I met a meetup.com group (4 people) at the lookout who kindly offered to give me a ride back to my car after chatting for a bit (I took them up on the offer as I was having some pretty severe pain in the ball of my foot.). Also didn't see anyone till I was on the final trail to Pechuck lookout at 9:45am (3 overnighters and a dog.).
Took High Ridge trail to Rooster Rock trail on the way out. Rooster Rock from the top starts pretty narrow with steep semi long switchbacks (found a lot of used toilet paper liter here, which I picked up). Trail gets more wide as it descends. Close to the bottom it's fairly steep with some slippery rock. This was the most well groomed trail of the day (it must get a lot of use). It's only a mile or 2 long to High Ridge trail with 500ft or more of elevation gain.
Finished trail at 12:47pm and back to my car by 1:08pm (one other vehicle at High Ridge TH).
The drive out was gorgeous and if you're doing the short trail (5 to 6 miles tops) to the lookout (Rooster Rock Road I believe) is gravel and in pretty good condition with some potholes but fairly narrow. No tree overgrowth onto road this time of year. Road dead ends with old logging mounds at the Rooster Rock TH.
No water sources on any of these trails so make sure you pack in your own water.
Some camp options a mile or more before rooster rock.
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