This is one of those hikes I would never do on a weekend. Except I did. With everyone else.
It’s funny how once you hear about something, you hear about it all over the place. Like when you get a car and all of a sudden you see the same car everywhere. Same idea. I first heard about Heybrook Lookout last summer. Within a few weeks of adding it to the list, a friend asked if I had hiked it yet—she had just heard about it also. Then I randomly found it during a search while looking for another hike. And then another friend asked if we wanted to go not long after that. Timing never worked out.
The plan was to go last Monday. Yet another friend knew about Heybrook Lookout and we made plans to go together. Ill-fated plans. She had to back out; her kiddo had a doctor appointment that needed to happen. And then it rained. I wasn’t really up for going alone, let alone in the rain. Taking all five kiddos solo and dealing with climbing up the lookout with Maive on my back. And potentially wet, slippery stairs. Nope.
The solution to finally going was on Saturday, with Brian. I dread hiking on the weekends. Especially on popular hikes. Like Heybrook Lookout. And having to drag Brian along, not ideal. He’s always down to go—without complaint—but I know he isn’t the biggest hiking fan.
The trail starts right off Highway 2. Where the speed limit is fast. Like you can easily go 70 mph on the 2 where it passes the Heybrook Lookout trailhead. The parking lot is a glorified shoulder, barely large enough for cars to fit angle-parked. And going on a busy Saturday, mid-morning, all the angle parking spots were taken. We had to park parallel to Highway 2—just past the white shoulder line—with barely enough room to exit the car. This is another reason why I didn’t want to go alone… dealing with five kiddos as cars zoom past. I’m sure it’d be fine alone—I’m pretty cautious—but I’d rather have extra adult hands. We parked and managed to get all the kiddos to the trailhead safely.
This is one of those hikes I went into not really knowing anything about, other than the lookout part. It was up, up, and up from the get go. Not terrible elevation, but I had gone running that morning and then hiking with about 35 pounds on my back… I was exhausted before we even made it 0.10 of a mile. Brian offered to put Maive on his back but I declined. I was committed to carrying her for the extra workout. Thankfully there were so many people on the trail that I used pulling over for them to pass as quick breaks.
Up, up, and more up.
The kids did great. They hiked like it was no big deal. The trail is really quite inviting. There are several rock stairs, along with some dirt stairs, lined with logs. Beautiful elements, natural and manmade. The kids kept telling me, “It looks like the trail flattens out up there!” It sort-of flattens out right before the lookout? Flat compared to the rest of the hike I suppose. We made it to the lookout tower in about 35 minutes. The WTA description says 1.3 miles. Brian’s Apple Watch clocked it at 1.2 miles, mine at 1.1 miles. Even though we both started at the same time?! Who knows.
There were several groups hanging around the base of the tower. There is a picnic table and many spots for groups to sit. We found one and settled in with the kiddos. The top of the tower had several people up there so we decided to lunch first, hoping the crowd would thin out a bit before we went up. The kiddos ate while ants crawled all over their lunches. One poor ant made his way home with us, when I cleaned out Maive’s lunch box. Apparently he was up for an adventure.
The view from the trail approaching the lookout and lunching kiddos.
Lunch, check. The tower crowds had thinned and we had two options: go in waves, with one of us taking up a few kids while the other waited, and then switch or all go together. We opted to all go together, with Maive on Brian’s back now. There are 89 narrow stairs to climb, before making it to the top. Well, not quite the top. The very top layer—as the kiddos call levels—is blocked off. The kiddos powered up, making it to the top before Brian and me. Technically before only Brian. I don’t do heights well. I made it about three flights before I started to feel uneasy. Brian and I maneuvered Maive off of his back on onto mine, on one of the narrow landings. Brian went up to catch up with the other kiddos while Maive and I went back to solid ground.
Panoramic view from the top of the lookout.
Maive putzed around while the other four kiddos went up and down the tower multiple times, coming down to tell me about things and then back up to be with Brian. To have the energy of kiddos! They’re impressive. Brian and the kiddos took in the views and called it good, heading back down to Maive and me. As I was waiting for them, I knew I should suck it up and head up. That this was an opportunity I had been waiting on for close to a year. And that if I didn’t go up then, I would regret that decision. I decided to head up. Alone. Except there is no such thing as alone with five kiddos. Blaise volunteered to go with me, since he is not a fan of heights either. For moral support. And then Laine said she’d come with me. Before I even set foot on the first stair, all four kiddos were making their way to the top again.
Climbing those pesky stairs was worth it.
I am SO glad I sucked it up and climbed those 89 stairs. Spectacular views. Gorgeous. And lucky for me, there was only one other couple up there and an Instagrammer setting up her phone to take auto photos of herself. Which I’m sure turned out great; she seemed to know exactly what she was doing. I took my time up there, looking around and taking my own non-Instagram worthy photos. All while the kiddos came and went. I’m sure they climbed up and down the tower a good 10 times?! And I know I shouldn’t appreciate tagging, because it’s totally wrong to deface things—don’t do it!—but I enjoyed seeing all the writing on the wood of the tower. I’ve always had a soft spot for graffiti.
The lookout, two views from below.
After we all felt like we sufficiently checked out the tower, it was time to head back down. And it was getting busier. A sure sign it’s time to skedaddle. Brian wore Maive this time. It felt weird to have nothing on me. No backpack, no kiddo, nothing. Might I say, glorious?! Haha. It was a fairly uneventful descent. We started to pass more and more people, families with young kiddos and groups of adults. We passed one couple, maybe in their sixties? The man was slightly huffing, and said to Brian, “If you can make it, I have no excuse!” Pointing to him wearing Maive on his back. I’m like, it was ME who carried her up. Haha! Of course I didn’t say anything; I let Brian take the credit.
The other fun part about heading down, was that Saige and Baby were in front. Literally every group we passed, Baby would tell them, “Almost there!” Even when were were close to the trailhead. Thankfully she’s a cute little kid so nobody really took her almost there! too seriously. Unless they actually were almost there, and they knew this.
Hiking with Brian and the kiddos was interesting. The kiddos are used to me. I’m pretty easy-going about how they hit the trail, so long as they are respectful of other hikers and stay on the trail. I’m cool with climbing boulders and walking across downed trees. Heading up, we came across a large boulder covering half the trail. The kiddos immediately started to climb. Brian was telling them to get down, haha. And I’m like, climb away! And while eating lunch, he kept encouraging them to finish up. Why, I’m not sure?! As much of a schedule freak as I am—always watching the clock—I’m pretty chill when it comes to timeframes while hiking. Brian is not a schedule freak. At all. So that was weird. And then, heading down to the trailhead, the kiddos were running ahead. Brian was worried they’d keep running, heading to our car near the busy Highway 2. They’re all pretty good kids, knowing to stop at trailheads to wait for me. And they did just that, like usual. I know Brian means well, but he needs to loosen up a bit! Or maybe go hiking with us more, haha.
After hiking, we headed into Monroe for frozen yogurt. We had gone for frozen yogurt the Tuesday before in North Bend, and it was about $35 for the five of us (the kiddos and me, Maive shared with everyone). In Monroe, it was $74 for six of us?! That was a sticker shock. At least it was tasty, so there’s that I suppose.
Pricey frozen yogurt.
Until the next family hike, potentially with Brian. Hahaha!