Hike to the Wesser Bald Fire Tower

North Carolina Appalachian Trail - Wesser Bald Fire Tower

Added by Nathan Szwarc

This hike leads to a unique 30 foot tall fire tower that offers 360 degree unobstructed vies of the Nantahala National Forest, Fontana Lake, and the Little Tennessee River Valley.

The road leading to the trailhead is rough the last mile, but doable in any car. Just make sure to take it easy going up and be careful, especially if there has been any rain or snow. You will have reached the parking area for the hike once you see a large green Appalachian trail sign and a few parking spaces. The parking lot splits the Appalachian trail, so even though you will be hiking on the Appalachian trail you will want to take the the trail on the left, not the trail on the right marked by the large green Appalachian trail sign to get to the Wesser Fire tower. The trail on the left to the Wesser fire tower begins with a steep ascent and is marked by a few large rocks blocking the center of the trail to ensure motorized vehicles stay off.

The trail ascends the whole time at a good incline with little-to-no mountain views along the way. The incline is steep so leave plenty of time to get up. Once you have completed the 1.4 mile ascent with no turn-offs or branches on to other trails, it will open up and you will see the fire tower. The fire tower itself is unique because it has no walls or roof and the floor is quite expansive. This is a great place to camp and if the weather is good, you could even camp on top. If the weather isn't great, camping below is still very nice and there is a fire pit located under the tower. There are no water sources on top so make sure to bring plenty.

To return simply descend back down the 1.4 mile trail making no turns or cutoffs and you will reach your vehicle. If you have any extra time at the begging or ending of the hike take some time to explore Otter Creek as you come up the Otter Creek Road, where you can find lots of beautiful cascades and a few large unnamed waterfalls! As always make sure to leave the trail better than you found it.

Pack List

  • Food and Water
  • Camera
  • Tripod
  • Wind breaker
  • Day Pack
  • Tent (If Camping)
  • Sleeping bag (If Camping)
  • Sleeping Pad (If Camping)
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Activities:

Backpacking, Camping, Chillin, Hiking, Photography

Skill Level:

Intermediate

Season:

Year Round

Trail Type:

Out-and-Back

Distance:

2.8 Miles

Elev. Gain:

1500 Feet

Rating:

Features:

Forest
Groups
Scenic

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How to Get There

about 1 month ago

Backpacking Experience

This fire tower did not disappoint, the road up to the parking lot was very well maintained so the 15min ride up was great. The hike it's self only took 40min with our 90l packs, we didn't bring tents due to the weather being super clear so check the forecast before you go up. We slept on top of the tower with amazing views of the sunset/sunrise and got to look at stars all night. We met some thru-hikers and gave them a ride to Franklin so they could resupply, so you can always bring a few protein bars for those guys. They are very appreciative of it. Highly recommend to make a visit to Outdoor 76 store in downtown Franklin if you're looking to grab a brew or the Lazy Hiker brewery is a great stop for a brew and some great food at their food truck.

about 1 month ago

9 months ago

Wesser Bald never disappoints!

I live close to here and make it a point to visit the fire tower a few times every year. It's my go to spot to take visiting friends and family and it never disappoints. Watching the sunset from here will never get old.

9 months ago

9 months ago

One of my Favorites

This hike is short, maybe a little over a mile, but offers one of the best views of the Nantahala Forest. The trail ascends at a steady incline, but is very manageable. The tower is an awesome place to view the surrounding mountains and if it isn't a busy season or too windy, it can be a cool spot to camp. Just don't put a fire on top of the tower, as you will see where others have already done the same and have burnt holes in the platform. There also is a trail shelter about a mile farther down the trail, but expect it to be full if thru hikers are around.

9 months ago

9 months ago

Killer Views

Relatively short hike but pretty steep! Absolutely beautiful views and well worth the hike! Went up in the summer on a clear day and you could see for miles! One of the best fire towers in the area! Road up to it was a little strenuous but no problem for any 4WD Vehicle. Five stars for sure!

9 months ago

Added by Nathan Szwarc

Avid hiker, backpacker, and aspiring photographer living in east Tennessee.

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