Monthly Archives: January 2022


Sometime in the second half of 2021, free public access to the South Mountain Fire Lookout site through the surrounding private forest lands was eliminated by the Green Diamond Company. Until sometime that year, the long bicycling and hiking route to South Mountain, the southernmost peak of the Olympics, has been accessible from the Shelton˗Matlock Road, year round. Until this autumn, the forestland gates at that main road, and within the tree farm have been opened, allowing cars and trucks to drive to a gate four miles from the 3000-foot South Mountain summit, during the September through December hunting seasons. From there it has always been an enjoyable hike to the top.

Without any announcement beyond their website, Green Diamond developed and published new access maps for their forestlands in Mason and Grays Harbor Counties in 2021 (NEW – Grays Harbor/Mason County). The previous practice of press releases published in local newspapers, and listed on the company website News page: ( was not followed. This information was probably shared within the company, and with current Recreational Access Permit holders. In the past, the public affairs office answered the phone for questions. This year no one answered the phone or returned my call to ask about the new maps.  

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DECEMBER 2021- JANUARY 2022 REVIEWS December 10, 2021 blog

“Lost Fire Lookout Hikes and Histories: Olympic Peninsula and Willapa Hills” by Leslie Romer

Our state’s rainy western flanks might not be first place you’d look for fire lookouts, but local hiker and author Leslie Romer has documented over 60 current and former lookout sites between the mouth of the Columbia River and the Strait of Juan de Fuca. Part history book and part guidebook, Romer combines years of ground-truthing with detailed, archival research to bring these oft-forgotten sites to life. “Lost Fire Lookout Hikes and Histories” lays out all the background you need to start planning your summer adventures around the Olympic Peninsula and find some truly off-the-beaten path locales., December 15 post. Published as part of a five book review in the Aberdeen Daily World:  December 16 by Jon Larson, Polson Museum Director:

For the physically active history fan, the newest addition to the local written record is Leslie Romer’s “Lost Fire Lookout Hikes and Histories: Olympic Peninsula and Willapa Hills.” Released only last week, this 330-page softback is packed with historical geography detailing 66 individual hikes to the fire lookouts that once dotted our region. The hikes themselves were chosen for being accessible to the public and range from a half mile to twenty one miles in length. While few of the lookouts remain, Romer has done exhaustive research to locate where they once stood and has created a lasting record of this once crucial network of early warning stations. With many dating to World War II and ranging from the Columbia River to the Strait of Juan de Fuca and everywhere in between (a majority here in Grays Harbor and Pacific Counties), each hike is detailed for historical context as well as for geographical accessibility. The cartography is excellent and this book is highly illustrated with historic photos. $22.95 softback.

OUR COAST WEEKEND Arts and Entertainment Weekly, January 11, 2022. Astoria, OR

“Bookmonger: Hiking guides for nearby exploring”

For all of you who have dreams of getting out into nature more in 2022, here are two new books that will encourage you to do so!

“Lost Fire Lookout Hikes and Histories” offers over 60 hikes to fire lookout sites throughout the Willapa Hills and the Olympic Peninsula. In researching these destinations, Olympia, Washington, author Leslie Romer proves to be not just a doughty hiker but also a veritable scholar. 

But before you get to the section of the book that details the hikes, please read the 11 pages of preface. These contain smart advice that Romer wants to convey to anyone following in her footsteps, things like: make sure you know who owns the land where you’ll be hiking, and get the proper permits ahead of time; know the etiquette you should practice when encountering wild animals; and, don’t skimp on the Ten Essentials.

Heeding this counsel will lead to a better experience once you actually hit the trails.

Following this introduction, Romer has prepared at-a-glance tables that summarize the hikes by distance, elevation gain, seasonal access and more.

Then you’ll get to the actual hike descriptions. Each entry methodically includes an overview, driving directions to the trailhead, a map and detailed directions for the hike.

Romer also combed through archival records and pored over old maps and written guides to provide mini-histories of each site and even information about some of the folks who once staffed and supplied these lookouts. These included a Disney illustrator, a famous female horse packer, and — during World War II — Aircraft Warning Service spotters.

“Lost Fire Lookout Hikes and Histories” provides destinations that are off the beaten path.

The Bookmonger is Barbara Lloyd McMichael, who writes this weekly column focusing on the books, authors and publishers of the Pacific Northwest.

Publication Info

Available from these sources:

  • REI – Olympia, Capital Mall, West Olympia, WA
  • Olympia Gear Exchange, 104 4th Avenue W., Olympia, WA
  • Courtyard Antiques, 4th Avenue E., Olympia, WA
  • Polson Museum – Hoquiam, WA
  • The Barn Nursery Gift Shop – 9510 Old Hwy 99, south of Olympia, WA
  • Browsers Books – Olympia, WA
  • Village Books and Paper Dreams, Bellingham, WA
  • Willapa Brewing Company, South Bend, WA
  • Barnes and