This is a short hike to a historic fire tower with a nice view of the canyon formed by the South Fork of the Merced River. It is also a relatively open area with a helipad, so if it is a good place to go for stargazing. Just make sure you have flashlights for the hike back.
Normally, you can park on Azalea Lane. Use common sense and be respectful though. Do not block driveways or the road or dumpsters or the access road and, of course, do not park here during snow removal. If you cannot safely and practically park on Azalea, you can park in the circle on the street next to it (Dogwood Lane) or down at the large parking lot at the condominiums. Neither of these options adds a whole lot of distance.
To get there from Alpine Escape, drive up out of the neighborhood like you are returning to the highway. At the mailbox shed, instead of making the left to the highway, take a right up past the condominiums. At the T-intersection, turn left, take the right turn, pass Dogwood Lane, then take a left into Azalea Lane.
Continue past the end of Azalea Lane where the road turn to dirt. Just past the steel gate, take a right up the hill. If going up for sunset or stargazing, make a careful note of the intersection. We have had a guest get go up to the lookout for sunset and get turned around in the dark on the way back. Instead of taking the left back to their car (only 100 steps away at that point), they took the right downhill and wandered for two hours in the dark.
After an S-turn above the water tanks, the grade relaxes and you have an easy walk to the fire tower. You’re there!