July 4, 2018
Having finished the Pisgah 400 and the South Beyond 6000, coupled with the fact that my next long trail won’t occur until early November on the Bartram Trail, I have decided to undertake the Carolina Mountain Club Lookout Tower Challenge. I’ve never been intrigued by waterfalls. That may sound weird for someone who loves being in the woods, but they’re more a source of consternation, per the number of reported deaths that happen with alarming frequency in Western North Carolina. I’ve always loved fire towers, and what’s not to love; towering views of the surrounding mountains, history, and a certain Isengard, Tolkien feel to adventuring.
There are twenty four (24) towers as part of the challenge, and given my affinity for them, I have nearly half already completed and blogged. This challenge isn’t nearly as cavalier as the SB6K, but there is an added sense of exploring areas that I wouldn’t normally visit.
Green Knob Lookout is located near Mt. Mitchell and the state park, just off the Blue Ridge Parkway (BRP) at milepost 350.5. Once parking, just turn around towards the mountain and walk 500 ft. to the right. Hidden on the left hand side are a series of stairs with a faint white sign shrouded in foliage. This trail might seem like tough trek, but it is maintained in a pristine manner by the NC High Peaks Trail Association and the Friends of Mt. Mitchell State Park. The trail is well-blazed and the switchbacks are very well built. It’s just a .5 mile, relatively easy trek to the summit.
Just before the fire tower, you come to a trail split, to the left is the tower and to the right is the Green Knob Trail (which runs 3 or so miles down to the Mt. Mitchell Trail and the Black Mountain Campground). Also, this trail is not to be confused with the wonderful Green Knob Trail off the BRP at Julian Price Memorial Park.
The tower is locked, and I did not have the gumption to heave myself up and over the overhang solo. But, even from the steps, the views are tremendous. You can look down to the valley and up at Mt. Mitchell and the Black Mountain Crest Trail. On a day when the Park was full of tourists, I had this luxurious spot to myself. I highly recommend this hike.
Total mileage is 1 mile.