Hike to Green Knob Lookout Tower

Green Knob Lookout Tower

Lost in the middle of the Blue Ridge Mountains, Green Knob Lookout Tower features a 360-degree outdoor viewing platform overlooking Mt. Mitchell, the Blue Ridge Parkway, and the surrounding lush landscape of North Carolina. The trail is only half of a mile to the tower and rarely traveled.

Green Knob Lookout Tower is an abandoned fire tower near Mt. Mitchell and located directly off the Blue Ridge Parkway. The tower boasts a full 360-degree, unobstructed view of Mt. Mitchell, Craggy Mountains, Table Rock, Grandfather Mountain, and the Parkway. Unlike most fire towers, this tower is not located on the highest peak of the surrounding mountains thus providing a unique and nestled feel. The tower utilizes one flight of stairs and is sturdy.

The trail to Green Knob Fire Tower is not well-marked and thus lightly traveled. With the following directions, this CAN be a good thing as you will most likely not encounter large crowds. Park at the Green Knob Overlook near mile marker 350 on the Blue Ridge Parkway. Head north (right if you are standing in the parking area facing the Parkway) alongside the Parkway for approximately 300 feet. There is enough room to safely walk in the grass on the right side of the road. You will encounter a small opening in the dense forest across the Parkway to your left (11th photo). Cross the road and a hidden trail-marker will read "Green Knob." This is the trailhead.

The trail is marked all the way to the fire tower with a double white diamond blaze. You will encounter two forks along the trail. The first fork splits off into a yellow diamond blaze. Despite what other online sources say, DO NOT follow the yellow diamond blaze. The second fork is less clearly marked and appears to show a double white diamond blaze heading in both directions. It is designated with a trail marker reading "Green Knob" and a blue square with a white squiggle through it. When you reach this final fork, bear left. Within .1 mile, you will approach the fire tower. The entire hike from the overlook to fire tower is approximately .5 mile.

Green Knob Lookout Tower is not visible from the Parkway and thus often forgotten. I would highly recommend this hike to all ages and skill levels looking for a short, adventurous hike that is not crowded with other people. The lookout tower is a great place to relax and take in the epic landscape. If not too heavy, consider bringing a lightweight hammock or collapsible chair. This hike is well worth a standalone trip or would be a great addition to visiting Mt. Mitchell, Craggy Gardens, and the Blue Ridge Parkway. 

Pack List

  • THESE DIRECTIONS! You will have an extremely tough time finding the lookout tower on your own and there is limited cell service on the Blue Ridge Parkway.
  • Hiking Shoes
  • Water
  • Bug Spray/Insect Repellent (Important!)
  • Camera (Optional) 
Show More
RT Distance 1 Miles
Elevation Gain 313 Feet
Activities Chillin, Photography, Hiking
Skill Level Beginner
Season Year Round
Trail Type Out-and-Back
Features
Dog Friendly
Easy Parking
Forest
Romantic
Scenic
Wildflowers

Reviews

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Overall rating: 

Access to the top is blocked off

Blake Rouse said this already but I am confirming his claim: you cannot reach the top/deck area. It is locked. You can only see the tower from the ground. Regardless, it's a beautiful view and was an enjoyable hike. Still worth going in my opinion!

FYI

FYI- the access to the top is locked with a padlock. Still great views but only from the top of the stairs


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