Weekend in Capline Fire Lookout
Ever wanted to be sleeping VERY cozy in the clouds? A, what few may consider, almost glamping experience for a dreamy weekend escape. We stayed in the fire lookout for 2 nights during Easter and it simply exceed any expectations of anything imaginable. We hiked up 2.5 miles (one-way) from the town to the lookout. It was a moderate hike due to carrying our gear but we found it peaceful along a rugged road to the top. Calpine is a forest fire lookout tower that was constructed in 1934 by the Civilian Conservation Corps, and is one of three remaining examples of the enclosed windmill-style lookout in California. Yup, I signed us right up and would go back again! Sweet dreams adventure seeker.
Friday to Sunday
Drive from San Francisco,CA to Calpine, CA (4 hours)
The See’s + Do’s
Friday: We arrived by 4pm and started our hike up after leaving our car near the post office per the Rangers instructions. A sweet face neighborhood dog led us up most of the way as I am sure he has done previously for other lookout guest. It was pretty cool and quite comforting for us. We enjoyed our dinner during sunset while having a camp fire going (see pic below).
Saturday: Breakfast outside and the weather was perfect for t. For a early lunch option, check out the town’s only bar/hotel named Sierra Valley Lodge located on the main street of Calpine. Get the burger and sit by the fireplace! A real old school place (almost 100 years old) and they love talking to new faces/visitors.
An activity a few miles away and open 24 hours…Visit a Hot Spring! Sierra Hot Springs was a few miles away and we paid a fee for $20 per person to use their hot and cold pools with the highest pool temperatures up to 110-degrees (clothing optional, no pictures allowed). My favorite one was located in a majestic dome. Right outside the dome is the warm pool, a dry sauna, and deck with 10+ patio chairs looking out to the meadow. They also have a organic cafe if your hungry/thirsty.
Sunday: Enjoy the lookout surroundings with a breakfast outside on the picnic table.
Perfect for 2 people / Possibly 3 fit if someone is on the floor.
Fill up with gas in Truckee before heading up towards Calpine. Cell phone reception is spotty or non existence after Truckee (ATT&T is my provider).
Elevation of the look out is 5,980 feet in the Sierra Nevada Mountains of Tahoe National Forest.
The interior measures 14′ x 14′ with two single beds, dry sink, small table and chairs, three propane lights, a propane heater, games, a propane stove/oven and an actual fire finder (cool!). We brought our own cooking utensils but we did see a limited assortment of cooking pots and pans inside the fire lookout. There is a fire pit and picnic table outside the structure.
Reservations book up quickly and can be made online by visiting recreation.gov reserve here. The Rangers call you a few days before your reservation with full detail instructions, a gate code (summer/fall only) and contact #’s. Dog friendly but prep them for the stair climb!
$45 a night to stay there
March 2016 – about 70’s degrees in the day time- No snow on ground
In summer/fall, you can drive right up to the look out without the 2.5 hike (one-way hike).
What I wished we brought but didn’t ?
My hammock to hang up and be content for days! Also, a bag of scented potpourri as the interior just had a rusty smell.
Ended up as the WOW factor
The sunset, sky filled with stars, and sunrise as the fire lookout provides windows with 360-degree views.