Girard Ridge Lookout was constructed in 1931 and used by the Forest Service on a regular basis until 1981. It is one of the few remaining historic lookouts on the Shasta-Trinity National Forest. The structure at Girard Ridge is reportedly the oldest lookout of its particular design remaining in California. It was restored to its original character in 1997. The lookout offers primitive accommodations, but visitors are rewarded with panoramic views of the mountains during the day and bright, starry skies at night. Staying at Girard Ridge Lookout is an unforgettable experience.
While the main recreation at Girard Ridge Lookout is enjoying the scenery, there are opportunities to hike, hunt, and fish. Hikers can walk north on the Forest Service road for 3 miles from the lookout to where it meets the Pacific Crest Trail.
Girard Ridge Lookout stands 13 feet off the ground and is accessed via a flight of stairs. It has a standard 14x14 foot cabin with a gable roof and exterior catwalk. There is a separate building with a vault toilet that is accessed by going down the stairs and walking about 30 feet. The cabin offers two twin beds with mattresses. Cabinets are available for storage and there is a table for eating. Visitors have access to cleaning supplies, including a mop, broom, and cleansers. The lookout has no cooking facilities, no water and no electricity. Visitors are required to bring water. A heat source is needed in cooler temperatures. There are no dishes, utensils, cookware, linens or bedding at the lookout. Visitors must bring garbage bags to pack out trash. The use of portable stoves using gas, jellied petroleum or pressurized liquid fuel is allowed with a valid California campfire permit, but no wood or charcoal fires are permitted ( Click here for more information about Girard Ridge Lookout).
The lookout is located above the Sacramento River Canyon at a height of 4,809 feet. Spectacular views of Mount Shasta are seen to the north, the gray spires of the Castle Crags frame almost the entire view to the west and the distant silhouette of Lassen Peak can be seen to the southeast. Girard Ridge Lookout is surrounded by northern California mixed conifer forest. Bears and other animals live in the surrounding forest (click here for information on bear safety).
Castle Crags State Park is nearby, offering hiking trails, including access to the Castle Crags Wilderness in the Shasta-Trinity National Forest, and the chance to fish and swim in the Sacramento River.
Charges & Cancellations
A $10.00 service fee will apply if you change or cancel your reservation. Late cancellations are subject to additional fees. For full details see NRRS Reservation Policy
ADA Access: N
Very nice and tucked away lookout tower facing the castle crags mountains. Lots of flying bugs and high vegetation area. Nice fire pit and picnic table. Bring all your gear. There is absolutely nothing around but what you bring in. Totally off the grid. Oh yeah there is a cell tower that gives you 5 BARS. Live streaming no problem.
This was our first fire lookout, but will not be our last! The drive up to the lookout was tough at times along well-used, but not really well maintained, logging roads. We had a high-clearance all-wheel drive Subaru Crosstrek and while the all-wheel drive didn't seem super necessary, the high clearance certainly was. The trip to the top took about 45 minutes from Hwy. 5, so be sure you have what you need when you head up there.
Along the drive up we did see a bear along the side of the road, but other than a few deer and lots of birds and squirrels, not much other wildlife.
The lookout is great and has two twin or double beds, a table, and a couple of cabinets for storing items. There are no kitchen facilities at this lookout. There is a picnic table and fire ring located on the ground next to the lookout. I don't recall if the table was chained down, but we brought chairs to sit by the fire and enjoy the spectacular views of Castle Crags and Mt. Shasta. There are pit toilets located just a few steps off the road that leads in to the lookout.
Although you do feel like you are way off the beaten path when you are there, do put your gear away each night and day and lock the door to the lookout and you car as day hikers do come up to the lookout, which is a little weird. Not many when we were there, but a few and we were glad that we locked up our gear as to not tempt anyone.
The hiking around the lookout isn't fantastic as you are mostly limited to logging roads, but we hiked around a fair amount nonetheless. It would be a great spot to bring mountain bikes, not sure about the legality of dirt bikes on the logging roads.
The beds were about as bad as you'd expect a bed in a fire lookout to be. We brought our inflatable air mattresses and slept in sleeping bags, but the beds were still really saggy. If you're extra picky about your bed or have back issues you may want to bring an air mattress or something to help stiffen up the bed.
Bring a spotting scope and/or a telescope as there are some wonderful views west to Castle Crags and north to Mt. Shasta. We couldn't see hikers on Mt. Shasta but did see many going up Castle Crags with our binoculars.
Overall it was a great space and also worked well with out dog. We set him up with a dog run when we were outside and then he slept in the fire lookout with us as night.
This will surely be a trip you remember if you stay here. Enjoy!