Fryingpan Mountain Lookout Tower Hike
By Joanne O'Sullivan
Fryingpan Mountain Lookout Tower Hike Details
Length: About 1.5 miles round trip
Duration of hike: 1 Hour
Elevation gain: 347 Feet
Type: Out & Back
Facilities & Parking: Gravel pull off
Features: Views, Wildflowers, Pet Friendly
Directions to Trail Head | Open in Google maps
High above it all on the Blue Ridge Parkway
Tower above the Blue Ridge Parkway and enjoy panoramic views in all directions from this 70-foot-tall historic fire lookout tower.
Fryingpan Tower is the tallest fire tower in Western North Carolina. So, even though the hike isn't difficult, this hike may not be for those who are afraid of heights. The only way to see the views on this hike is by climbing the tower.
LEAVE NO TRACE TIP
Fire lookout towers are historic places, many of which date back to the 1930s when the US Forest Service built live-in cabs on top of these structures. Now less than 25 remain. Preserve these special places by leaving the tower as you found it -- memorialize your visit by taking photos rather than carving initials or messages into the wood. And, be extra careful when climbing the tower stairs.
What To Expect
If you’re coming from the south on the Parkway, start looking for the parking pull-off once you’ve passed the Pisgah Inn and campground and the Funnel Top Overlook. The gravel pull-off for Fryingpan Mountain Tower will be slightly past this on your right, with a metal swing-gate and a small brown sign marking Forest Service Road 450. You can park here, but don’t block the gate. If the gravel area is full, pull over on the shoulder but make sure you are completely out of the road.
The wide gravel trail to the tower rises gently to the left through rhododendron and mixed hardwoods. When you reach the tower, you can climb up five stories (the steps are somewhat steep) to experience the incredible views. The top deck and cab are locked are typically locked.
The views of Pisgah National Forest include landmarks such as Looking Glass Rock to the south and Cold Mountain to the north and Shining Rock Wilderness to the northwest.
From downtown, take I-240 West to I-26 East. Take Exit 33 (marked Blue Ridge Parkway-Brevard Road-Hwy 191). Turn left (south) onto Highway 191 and go 2.1 miles, passing brown signs for Blue Ridge Parkway and NC Arboretum. Turn right at the entrance to The North Carolina Arboretum and follow signs for the Blue Ridge Parkway. Turn south on the Parkway and continue past the Pisgah Inn (Milepost 408.6) and Funnel Top Overlook. You’ll see a pull off with a metal gate and sign for FS 450 on the right shortly after this. Park where you can without blocking the gate.
We all love the Blue Ridge Mountains! By working together, we can keep these incredible outdoor spaces beautiful and pristine for years to come. Make it your nature to Leave No Trace: Leave what you find, pack out what you pack in, stay on designated trails and plan ahead. To learn more about the 7 Principles of Leave No Trace, CLICK HERE >>.
Photos by Jason Tarr/ExploreAsheville.com