As you’ll see in the photos below, the Vetter Mountain Lookout burned to the ground in the 2009 Station Fire. This was the first time since then that we’ve been able to even visit the area. It was a sad site to see.
Here’s what the fire outlook station used to look like.
More photos of the majestic and historical Vetter Mountain Fire Outlook
A trail starting at Vetter Mountain that led to the Charlton Picnic area is closed. Even if you wanted to poach it, I wouldn’t advise it. It’s covered in Poodle Dog bushes eye height as well as cat’s claw bushes along the trail. Who knows when (or if) it will ever be open again.
On your way up the 3N16 road, you’ll notice a huge tree blocking the road. To the right of this is the Silver Mocassin Trail. It’s a good connection to the rest of the figure 8 loop with some Poodle Dog bushes, but not so much that they’re covering the trail. This trail is marked as “P19”.
Overall, the Chilao / Charlton loop is just as good as ever. Of course, since the government is currently shut down, all of the campgrounds are closed. There were very few people around. We saw two hikers and no other bikers on the trail system today. We saw a whole bunch of Forest Service Rangers patrolling, presumably to kick people out of the campgrounds. A few brave souls parked near the gates of the campground areas and enjoyed a day in their lounge chairs. Who needs a picnic bench right?