Visited Tuesday 7/22/20, no other cars at TH besides a ranger fire vehicle at 1:03pm. No bathrooms here, not handicap accessible, no handicap parking and not recommended for handicap nor small children (trail is steep, rocky with steep drop offs). Tiny parking area (5 vehicle's).
Do not follow directions via Google maps, the first 1168 is closed (this road is by a small pull out/parking area, a little past this on the paved road is a sign with coffin mountain on it.) or there is road work going on, follow the paved road till forest road 11 and go to the second Forrest road 1168 after on the second Forrest 1168 directions are fine, up until then Google will try to get you to go back to the first one, just ignore.
It was mid 80s and hot with lots of bugs (biting flies and mosquitoes included). This was our second hike of the day and I forgot to refill my bladder so I ran out of water before we reached the lookout. Make sure you have enough water. Depending on the time of day there is very little to no shade. There was some nice wind and shade on the way up, but I still sweated a ton. On the way down there was little to no wind, no shade and at the top no wind, no shade.
This is a functional fire lookout, there was a ranger at the lookout working and scanning for fires, though he did tell my friend he was going home that evening.
The trail has very few flat areas most times it's steady incline and then a steep and this is how it goes all the way to the lookout. We did not check out the radio tower on the trail to the left as it was hot! Another day. The Bear grass is out of season, but there are plenty other flowers blooming as well as pretty butterfly's.
2.58 miles w/ 985 ft elevation gain.
We had the trails and lookout all to ourselves, minus the ranger Manning the fire lookout.
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This is good advice for any and all travel in national forests. Google Maps doesn't know anything about the correct roads to take on public land. I always follow directions from the Field Guide on this site or from a hiking book.Do not follow directions via Google maps
A few years ago the Statesman Journal did this article about the woman who has staffed the Coffin Mountain lookout for decades. The person you saw may have been a relief lookout for her days off.