American Camp Fire Lookout

American Camp Fire Lookout Tower

The American Camp Fire Lookout is located on top of a peak between the North Fork and South Fork of the Stanislaus where they join at the east end of New Melones Reservoir. The tower is no longer used, but what’s left of it is still standing. There are no 360 views from the ground, but the peak has great views especially to New Melones and the river canyon. The tower is visible from some of the peaks above Columbia.

This ride post has been archived to the Rides pages. Find it at:   or in the menus at Rides > Mixed Paved and Unpaved Rides > American Camp Fire Lookout

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  • Downside—Out-and-back, some washboarding on the steep sections of Italian Bar Road.
  • Upside—Very scenic with a mix of pines, oak woodland, lake, river canyon, great views and tower at the end.
  • Bring a good (better than Google) paper map of Stanislaus Forest Roads. See the page of Stanislaus Forest tips. Ride is in Columbia and Columbia SE quads.
  • 21.4 miles out-and-back from Columbia to the tower
  • About 3,100 feet total climb
  • roads: paved 5 miles, dirt and gravel 16.4 miles
  • terrain: mountainous
  • tires: cross to mountain, most folks will prefer mountain
  • seasons: all, with precautions for summer heat, possible winter snow.
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1 Response to American Camp Fire Lookout

  1. Bruce Lodge says:

    For many years, perhaps continuing to this day, CDF/Cal Fire fire retardant “air tankers” flying out of the Columbia Air Attack Base used the east face of the mountain upon which the lookout tower sits as a retardant jettison zone. On many occasions the air tankers are dispatched to a wildland fire only to be cancelled due to the fire control effort on the ground not needing the support of the fire retardant. The planes return to base fully loaded with retardant, but due to the weight they cannot land safely with a full load. So they fly a drop pattern over American Camp mountain and jettison at least a portion of their load (a safe distance away from any road or trail) so as to get to a gross weight that the plane and runway can handle safely upon landing. So… if you’re out at American Camp on your bike some hot summer afternoon you may see a retardant drop up close and personal. At the very least, you may see the air tankers or the CDF helicopter, or any number of private aircraft overhead – that area is part of the routine landing approach pattern for Columbia Airport. Enjoy! CaptBrewster

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