Squaw Mountain Fire Lookout
We spent one night in the Squaw Mountain Fire Outlook in Evergreen. This hut used to serve as the fire outlook for the region and has an amazing panoramic view of the Front Range Mountains.
A quick and easy hut trip, this has been on our bucket list since Chris read about it in a Denver Post article. The fire outlook was built in 1925 and is one of the highest outlook towers in the US, standing at 11,486 feet. With advanced technologies now available it is no longer utilized as a fire outlook, but rather serves as a popular hut for overnight trips. The hut can house up to 4 people between a downstairs bunk room/kitchen and the upstairs room which has 360-degree windows and amazing views. There is no water available so you must bring up all water for drinking, cooking and dishes. The hut does have electricity, a full-service kitchen (refrigerator, microwave, electric stove/oven, coffee maker and toaster) and a detached outhouse with an incinerating toilet.
We planned this trip about 6 months ahead of time and went for one night at the end of March. Chris’ parents joined for the adventure. The hike is short – only 2 miles from the winter trailhead and 1 mile in the summer – and we required snowshoes only for the final steep pitch. We left from our house around 2pm and got to the hut by 4pm! We arrived in a layer of clouds which obscured the mountains, but were hopeful it would later clear. We quickly settled in and Chris and I selfishly claimed the upstairs for ourselves, banishing his parents to the “kitchen dungeon”. The afternoon was spent lazily – reading, napping and snacking – until that evening when the clouds cleared as we caught our first glimpse of the view. On a clear day one can see mountains from Long’s Peak down to Pike’s Peak as well as a stunning view of the Denver skyline. We were treated with occasional cloud-breaks providing a dramatic glimpse of the nearby mountains. Chris spent about an hour photographing this amazing scene; then thick clouds rolled in along with snow.
That evening we cooked pita pizzas in the full-service kitchen and retired early eager for a possible sunrise. We awoke in the morning to ~4 inches of fresh snow and, again, thick clouds with no sunrise. We ate a quick breakfast of oatmeal and coffee, cleaned up, and headed back down the hill – this time with snowshoes the entire way. We enjoyed this quick trip and especially loved how quick and effort-free this was for a hut trip!
Pros: Close to Denver, quick trip, amazing views
Cons: No water is available – you must carry a lot of water; hut is pretty dirty – sheets covered in mud, old food left in refrigerator; basement bunkroom has no views and smells because of the kitchen
- Bring a sleeping bag (you do NOT want to sleep on those sheets!) and a travel pillow and/or pillowcase. Downstairs beds do not have pillows.
- Bring more water than you expect because you have to wash your dishes