Skycastle/Lemon Lookout

Skycastle (aka Lemon Lookout) is an old fire tower offering panoramic views of the Valhallas and Slocan Valley. This ain’t no Idaho Peak – you’ll have to march yourself up the long climb to the summit – but view of the Valhallas is spectacular!

Trailhead: Ponderosa FSR
Distance, round trip: 10km
Elevation: +750m
Season: mid-June to early October
Difficulty:  Moderate


The old fire tower used to be part of a business venture called Skycastle where accommodations were offered in the lower levels. Now the tower hosts communication equipment for Columbia Wireless.

The observation deck is still open to the public.


Turning off Highway 6, drive 3.8km up Ponderosa Forest Service Road. High clearance is necessary and 4WD may be required to overcome the waterbars.

This isn’t an official trail! There is no trailhead as such, but at 3.8km the road will widen slightly just before it REALLY steepens so do your best to pull over and park.

A Quick Bushwack

Walking up Ponderosa FSR, you’ll quickly see pink flagging tape going off to the left, with a trail beaten down underneath. Follow it. This short trail will lead down and up a gully, before joining the road that leads to the lookout tower.

The bottom of the lookout tower road is on private property which is why today Skycastle must be accessed via Ponderosa FSR. How fun!

Now, before you ascend the lookout tower road, stop and make sure you’ll remember where to turn off when you come back down! The faint trail leading back to your vehicle should be marked with flagging tape, but it can be easy to miss. Mark it on your GPS or add tape or do whatever you need to do!

Up the road

Now the hike is a matter of walking the remaining 4.8km up the lookout tower road.

Walking on roads can be boring and at the beginning, this road is indeed very forested and very boring. But pretty soon you’ll start to glimpse the Valhallas through the trees.

The road with the mountains beyond

As you ascend, you’ll start to see more and more of the landscape below. The forest opens up into huckleberry bushes and wildflowers. The distant valley bottom will confirm just how high you’re climbing and why your legs are so tired!

The road steepens and gets rockier as you near the top. And after about two hours of uphill, the tower is reached!

The tower!

Skycastle Tower

Climbing up to the observation deck, the views are truly stunning! Straight west are the Valhallas with Gladsheim, Dag, and Gimli towering in the sky. Down in the valley, the villages of Slocan and Appledale can be seen along the Slocan River. Looking east shows you the ranges bordering Kokanee Glacier Park.

Panorama east
Panorama south-west
Panorama north-west

Need a break from the elements? The observation desk has an inner room full of windows where you’ll find a log book and some chairs.

All-in-all, this is a great shoulder-season hike when you’re feeling a little more adventurous! The Skycastle tower is at 1723m elevation, a little lower than the Idaho Peak fire tower (2273m), but I’d be shocked if you ran into another person on this hike!

Download KML file – Skycastle



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Grant & Rhonda Hutchinson
Grant & Rhonda Hutchinson
2 years ago

We hiked Lemon Lookout on June 12, 2019. Lots of trees down along the road, there had to be more than 50 and would benefit from a team with chainsaws. The weather was 30C and gorgeous. Trail is a steady incline and we found our first geocache up there. Loved this trail and the lookout was awesome and in very good condition.

Trail Conditions
Lots of trees down across the trail
Access Road Conditions
The road up to the trail head is good and only 4kms off the highway
Rick Mazzocchi
Rick Mazzocchi
2 years ago
Trail Rating :

All the blowdown has been removed on the lookout access road.

Trip Date
Trail Conditions
good, active firewood cutting by the land owner who controls the bottom of the road. the trail linking the Ponderosa FSR with the Lookout road is becoming well beat in.
Access Road Conditions
good, shallow waterbars, most vehicles should be able to get to 3 km (trailhead at 4 km)
Access Road Vehicle
2WD High Clearance
Elizabeth King
Elizabeth King
11 months ago

The weather wasn’t super pleasant, a something went crash in the bush, (don’t think it was a bear, but it was pretty late in the day anyways) so we turned around probably 1.5/2km up. The directions are really good, but the tree with the flagging that marks the bushwack is either down, or it lost the branch with the flagging, because the flagging was on the ground. We will head back with company on a nicer day and maybe build a cairn or something. Great directions though, and what we did of the hike was fun!

Trail Conditions
Access Road Conditions
Rocky, passable with 4x4
Access Road Vehicle
4WD High Clearance
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