Fremont Point - Atlas Obscura

Fremont Point

Summer Lake, Oregon

Stay in an old lookout cabin atop Oregon's spectacular Winter Ridge. 


Winter Ridge (also called Winter Rim) is a spectacular fault escarpment just to the west of (and nearly 3,000 feet above) Summer Lake. It’s paralleled by Oregon State Route 31 on the east for around 22 miles, out in the Oregon Outback.

Winter Ridge was named by explorer John C. Frémont, who came through this area in December 1843. The expedition had already named the area Summer Lake, because it was unexpectedly warm for the time of year, so Winter Ridge was named in contrast. Frémont and the expedition had climbed up to this point to survey the area and to take stock of potential routes southward. They, like modern visitors, no doubt also appreciated the stunning views.

For many years the United States Forest Service maintained a fire lookout on Fremont Point, with an associated cabin to provide living quarters for the personnel stationed here. Alas, the lookout and cabin were both destroyed in the Winter Rim Wildfire of 2002.

The lookout was not replaced, but the cabin has been rebuilt to be a close replica of the original. It can now be rented as lodging, but be warned, that demand is high and reservations far in advance will almost certainly be required.

The cabin includes a stove and vault toilet, but no water; all water must be brought. The spectacular setting, however, goes a long way toward compensating for the primitive amenities.

Know Before You Go

The easiest road access is from the north. Take US Forest Service road 290 16.2 miles from its junction with OR SR-31(at 43.02961 N, 120.79067 W) to its intersection with NF-3119. Turn left (east) here and go 2.3 miles to trailhead parking for the Fremont Trail, where there is a vault toilet but no other amenities. Continue beyond the trailhead another 0.3 miles up to the cabin. The distance is 18.8 miles overall.  These are graded roads, but can be washed out; high clearance may be required.

Although the cabin is supposed to be available year-round, there is no vehicle access in the winter except by snowmobile. Access on foot is permitted, but it's a long backcountry slog on skis or snowshoes that should be attempted only by those in excellent shape with backcountry experience.

The proximity of the Fremont Trail makes dayhikes along Winter Ridge especially attractive. You can start right out from the cabin door without getting in your vehicle.

Details about renting the cabin are on the website.

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April 1, 2024

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