How to get there: depending on how old fashioned you are, either get a print out on google maps or put this into GPS: Panhandle Rd, Elizabethton, TN 37643. Once you turn onto this road you will pass blue hole on the left (I’ll save that for a different post) and drive all the way up the road (there is a patch that is not paved. Don’t let the bumpiness scare you) until you get to a rusty gate. Park your car at this gate and it will then be about a half mile hike up a dirt road to the fire tower.
The Fire Tower was relocated from Mississippi in 1943 and was staffed until 1991. My dad (born in 1957) used to hike up to the fire tower as a young adult as well. In the years it was staffed, the fire tower featured a live in cabin at the top for the forest ranger. There is a hole to climb through in what was once a trap door leading inside the cabin. When my dad would make the hike he said the best part was going when a friendly forest ranger was there because they would let you come up and look out their telescope. Even without a telescope the view is breathtaking!
The climb is scary. I had to stop and breath multiple times. It is in horrible shape and I don’t expect it to be up much longer. It’s rusted all to pieces and missing stairs on the first flight of steps. It’s also missing fencing in places that would normally act as a safety net at the top.
Here’s a view from the bottom and snap shot of one of the missing stairs:
Once we made it up to the top I was initially too scared to stand up or not grab onto the side. When the wind blew I felt like I could blow off!
Jess was more brave
Don’t Worry- I eventually was brave and let go!
Last but not least, the gorgeous view that made it all worth risking my life on this rickety, old, adult sized, hiking jungle gym.
Going back down the fire tower was a breeze. It felt so liberating. I definitely would not recommend children or older people for this adventure. I’m hoping to go one last time to see the leaves changing for fall because this tower is no doubt a ticking time bomb between being officially torn down or someone just getting injured.
Do you have a fire tower you recommend? Don’t worry about it not being local to me I want to see the world. Share your fire tower and experience with me 😀