Last month the USDA Forest Service announced that it will be opening the Panther Top Fire Tower to the public for fall leaf viewing on three dates this fall. This Forest Service fire tower is normally closed to the public.
The Panther Top Fire Tower is located in Cherokee County, near Hiwassee Lake. The 30-foot tall lookout tower was constructed by the Civilian Conservation Corps in 1940. Standing atop a 2,293 foot summit, Panther Top Fire Tower is the lowest situated lookout tower in western North Carolina, and it is also the most western tower in the state.
The first date for the tower opening was September 3rd, but the tower will also be open to the public on the first Saturday of October (October 1) and the first Saturday of November (November 5). Additional dates may be added to this schedule to provide additional fall leafing viewing opportunities. Several other Forest Service roads provide fall leaf viewing opportunities including Webb Mill Road near Andrews and Fires Creek Road in Clay County. Travelers should use caution on these narrow roads because of the mountainous terrain and additional traffic. For more information, call the Tusquitee Ranger District Office at 828-837-5152.