LTC Central NC Higlands
Central NC Highlands
Milages are listed one way; double the distance for round trip length. Various routes are listed, depending on the hiker’s desire as to length of trip. Many can be incorporated into loops or shuttle hikes. Any of the routes are acceptable to meet the Challenge requirement. For some towers, other routes are possible but must meet mileage requirements. Check with the Challenge Committee to confirm other routes in question.
Just off of the Appalachian Trail, the Rich Mountain lookout tower was used for fire detection through the 1980s. Built by the USFS in 1932 straddling the NC/TN state line, a 30 ft. live-in tower overlooks the quaint mountain town of Hot Springs, NC where the Appalachian Trail shares the sidewalk as it passes through downtown. Amazing views of the Bald and Black Mountains, including the east’s tallest Mt. Mitchell, are seen from this lookout.
AT from Tanyard Gap (2.6)
AT From Hurricane Gap (1.1)
Roundtop Ridge Trail (4.3)
Roundtop Ridge/AT Loop (11.6)
Camp Creek Bald
North Carolina’s oldest remaining lookout, Camp Creek Bald was built in 1928 with a standard square live-in cab supported by a 21 ft. steel tower. Prior to replacement with a proprietary circular live-in cab in the 1960s, this tower – like Wesser Bald, hosted Earl Shaffer for a night during his first ever 1948 Appalachian Trail thru-hike. Once threatened by a ski resort development gone bust, this lookout offers views of Mt. Mitchell and the Black Mountains as well as the Highlands of Roan.
Camp Creek Bald Jeep Road (0.8)
AT from Jones Meadow (1.3)
Hickey Fork & Pounding Mill Trails (5.5)
White Oak Flats Trail (6.4)
One of only two western North Carolina fire towers still actively staffed for fire detection, Chambers Mountain hosts a 60 ft. steel lookout that boasts views of the region’s highest ranges including the Great Smoky, Great Balsam, Plott Balsam, and Newfound Mountains. A hike through a scenic high mountain meadow reaches the1934 built tower and its NC Forest Service caretaker cabin inhabited by tower operator Orvale Banks. Watch out for the grazing livestock on your way to the tower!
Chambers Mountain Access Road (1.9)