Meadow Peak Lookout sits atop its namesake mountain at an elevation of 6,710 feet in the Kootenai National Forest. The lookout has been used as an observation point for spotting forest fires for over 90 years. On July 13, 1948 J.K. Pomajevic wrote, "hiked up to Meadow Peak on Trail 46, about a 6 mile walk from road to lookout. At this point there is a cabin with a cupola on top. It is connected to Bend Ranger Station by telephone". This phone line would have been approximately 14 miles long.
The first lookout was a cupola cabin built in 1928, the second lookout was built in 1936 it was a 15' L-4 style lookout and the the current lookout was built in 1957 as a 10' L-4 style for $6299. Leonard Sheffield was the contractor and had 3 Forest Service employees to help with the build. The lookout was last staffed in the 1990's and was placed on the National Historic Lookout Register in 2000.
The lookout is typically open from mid-June through late September. High clearance vehicles with off-road tires are recommended. Access to this lookout is along mountain roads with sections of loose sharp rocks and small boulders. This mountain hideaway offers some amenities, but guests should plan to pack in most of their own supplies. Cell service is available at the lookout.
Hikers can find places to explore around the lookout, and the surrounding Libby Area offers more than 400 miles of summer use trails. The lookout offers an ideal vantage point for star gazing on clear nights.
Lookouts are rustic in every sense of the word. They are remotely located and lack the conveniences of civilization such as running water, electricity or telephones. Lookouts are usually one room cabins built on top of towers, 40-60 feet from the ground. They are reached by climbing several steep stairs under the single room. They have windows on all four sides, providing a panoramic 360-degree view. These structures are usually very box-like and simply furnished, as the fire spotter used them for work rather than living quarters. Most likely they contain a center table for the alidade (a round instrument on a pedestal that aids in plotting the fire’s exact location on a map), wooden beds, and table and chair placed on an old linoleum floor. Some lookouts include a propane or wood stove. Lookouts are often surrounded by a catwalk, a deck-like addition built around the cabin affording extraordinary, unobstructed views.
Meadow Peak lookout stands 10 feet tall and has a 225 square foot cabin, which is encircled by a catwalk. It sleeps four and comes furnished with two twin beds, both with mattresses. Other amenities include a two-burner propane cooktop (bring your own propane), table and chairs, fire extinguisher, cleaning supplies and some cooking utensils. An outhouse with vault toilet is located near the tower. A campfire ring is located outside, but firewood is not provided. Water and electricity are not available. Guests must bring enough for drinking, cooking and washing. Items such as cookware, bedding, lanterns or flashlights, matches, extra toilet paper, first aid supplies, trash bags, dish soap, towels and an ice chest are not available. Guests are expected to pack out their trash and clean the cabin before leaving.
The lookout is located in the Purcell Range of the Rocky Mountains and offers panoramic views of densely forested peaks, Cabinet Mountains Wilderness, Lower Thompson and McGregor Lakes. Kootenai National Forest supports populations of deer, elk, moose, grizzly and black bears, wolves and mountain lions (bear safety). A variety of smaller mammals and birds can also be found.