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5 North Carolina Lookout Tower Hikes

Updated: Jun 23, 2023

Y'all, there's not many things in this world I love more than a good hike. The fresh air, exercise, and views combined easily make it my favorite pastime (are we surprised)? But, the one thing that makes a walk in the woods somehow better is when there's a lookout or ire tower along the way.

Lookout tower hikes literally elevate your view and give a breathtaking perspective to an already incredible sight. So, I want to tell you about a few of my favorites. Let's get to it, shall we?

Wayah Bald Lookout Tower Hike

Length: Short walk from parking lot

Difficulty: Easy

view from wayah bald lookout tower

East of Franklin, NC, the view from Wayah Bald Lookout Tower looks out over the mountains of Georgia, Tennessee, North Carolina, and South Carolina. The Forest Service road (FS 69) that leads to Wayah Bald is open seasonally and is closed from January 1 - April 1, so plan your trip accordingly!

While you're in the area be sure to also stop by Pickens Nose!

Fryingpan Mountain Lookout Tower Hike

Length: 1.5 miles

Difficulty: Moderate

view from fryingpan mountain lookout tower

Located between mile posts 409 and 410 on the Blue Ridge Parkway, Fryingpan Mountain Lookout Tower offers up some incredible views of Western North Carolina. This tower is the tallest USFS tower in North Carolina, and the views only get better as you wind up the steps towards the top. This one is worth overcoming your fear of heights, y'all!

While you're driving around, check out these other awesome Blue Ridge Parkway hikes.

Rich Mountain Fire Tower Hike

Length: 5.3 miles

Difficulty: Moderate/Hard

view from rich mountain fire tower

You could drive up to Rich Mountain Fire Tower, but what would be the fun in that? This hike follows a section of the Appalachian Trail, and it's just a few miles from Hot Springs, NC on the North Carolina and Tennessee border.

Green Knob Lookout Tower Hike

Length: 5.8 miles

Difficulty: Very Hard

view from green knob lookout tower

Get ready for bragging rights for this hike! The trail for this hike starts at the Mt. Mitchell Trailhead in Burnsville, NC, and holy mother of god this hike is HARD. It's definitely not for the faint of heart or the weak of knees, so just be prepared for an ass-kicker on this one!

Albert Mountain Fire Tower Hike

Length: 3.1 miles (via Mooney Gap)

Difficulty: Moderate/Hard

view from albert mountain fire tower

We're headed back towards Franklin, NC for this hike on a section of the Appalachian Trail. The hike to the Albert Mountain Fire Tower from Mooney Gap is a pleasant hike with some pretty views along the way, and the trail is just hard enough to feel satisfying without being so hard that you hate yourself for going on the hike. And, the views from inside the tower? *chef's kiss* Gorgeous!

For more photos and explorations, be sure to follow The Wandering Appalachian on Instagram and Pinterest! Be sure when you're discovering new places to practice Leave No Trace principles. Take only pictures, and leave only footprints. Happy wandering, y'all


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