Rich Mountain Fire Tower on the Appalachian Trail
Updated: Sep 12, 2022
I was fortunate enough to hike up to the Rich Mountain Fire Tower in Hot Springs, NC during peak fall foliage, and boy howdy was it amazing! Difficulty: Moderate/Hard Length: 2.5 miles one way Why it's cool: It's on the AT and there's a big ol' fire tower!
The parking area is easy to find for this trail, and you'll follow white blazes to stay on the path. The path itself is very easy to stick to. This trail has everything that makes for a perfect day hike. At 2.5 miles one way (5 miles total), there's enough length to make you feel like you're one of those fit, outdoorsy people. There's a nice incline with a few level spots to catch your breath after you remember that being a fit, outdoorsy person is hard work.
Please take a moment to appreciate the above photo: my attempt at being artsy with a beauty shot of some fall leaves. After you've gone roughly 2.4 miles, you will see a trail sign that points to a spur off of the AT that leads to the fire tower.
Seeing the fire tower in the distance is a spectacular sight. Your weary legs will leap for joy up the mountain as you finally reach the summit, and the stairs of the tower look like child's play compared to the elevation gain you've just achieved. It's a moving moment, y'all.
The fall colors on the day of this hike looked stunning. Every leaf in the Appalachian canopy was painted its own unique shade of autumn, mingling together in a fiery golden display of complete and utter beauty. (When you wander enough, the trees start telling you these things. The fluffy lingo is all their fault!)
Seriously though, if you get the chance to go on a fall hike, take the opportunity. It will leave you (or should I say... leaf you) with a fond memory that you'll never forget! Remember when you wander to practice Leave No Trace principles. Take only pictures, and leave only footprints. Happy wandering, y'all!
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