Fire towers, or lookout towers, are tall buildings typically located on mountain summits or other high vantage points in order to maximize the range of vision over a large area of wilderness. These towers usually house a lookout who can watch for smoke and wildfires. There are a handful of fire towers in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park that you can hike to.
In the far northeastern point of Tennessee stands the almost 5,000 foot tall Mount Cammerer. One of the more popular fire towers, the octagonal structure upon Mount Cammerer was built with hand cut stone in the 1930s by the Civilian Conservation Corp and is one of the cooler looking ones in the park. You can hike out and back via Low Gap Trail & the AT.Mount Cammerer
While the other fire towers listed here are well within the national park, Look Rock is actually just outside of it, on the west side of the Foothills Parkway. For this reason the nearly 1 mile roundtrip hike to the top is actually dog friendly and even stroller friendly with a paved surface all the way through. The lookout provides stunning views of the mountains in nearby Townsend.
This fire tower in North Carolina stands tall at 4,020 above sea level on Twentymile ridge near the Appalachian Trail. The structure is made of wood and metal, and as you begin your ascent you might notice a little bit of movement from the wind; but don't worry! The 360 degree views from the top of the surrounding mountains and Fontana Lake are worth the spine-chilling wobbles.
One of the least known fire towers in the area, Bluff Mountain lookout is actually only a short drive from Sevierville and north of the national park. If you're brave enough to reach the very top you'll be rewarded with stunning views of Smoky Mountain ridges. You can actually drive to this fire tower from Pigeon Forge. Start on Wears Valley Rd. to Walden's Creek Rd. and you'll find Bluff Mountain Rd. The lookout is about 6 miles down. 3102 Green Top Rd, Pigeon Forge, TN 37876
Perhaps the most popular and well known fire tower in the Smoky Mountains is Clingmans Dome, sitting on the border of Tennessee and North Carolina. Luckily the short half mile hike to the peak of the lookout is paved and very easy to navigate. If you're up for something slightly more challenging afterward, try Forney Ridge to Andrews Bald.Clingmans Dome
Mount Sterling's fire tower has the highest elevation of any fire tower standing in the eastern US; the mountain stands at 5,842 feet with the lookout reaching 60 more feet above. The hike to reach it is a steady 2000 foot climb via Mount Sterling Trail (the shortest route) and features lots of pretty wildflowers and forest scenery. This is a great hike on a clear day, as you might even be able to spot the fire tower on Mount Cammerer from the view at the top.