Wayah Bald Lookout Tower is located in the Nantahala National Forest just outside of Franklin, NC. and offers amazing views from an elevation of 5,342 feet. On a clear day, you can see to the Great Smoky Mountains in Tennessee and even into Georgia.
As you are driving up to Wayah Bald, you’ll pass Wilson Lick Ranger Station. Originally built in 1916, Wilson Lick Station was used by the watchmen that were commissioned to keep watch over the forest below for fires. This is a beautiful area and definitely worth the time it takes to stop and have a look around.
More on Wayah Lookout TowerIn 1935, the Civillian Conservation Corps began the building of a new and elaborate lookout tower on Wayah Bald. This tower stood over 53 feet tall and consisted of quarry stone and a wooden roof made of oak shakes.
Then on September 6, 1937, thhe new lookout opened to the public. At this time, the tower was dedicated to the memory of Mr. John B. Byrne, a former Forest Supervisor of the Nantahala National Forest. Visitors at that time, climbed an oak staircase to the second floor. From this point, they could look out any one of the twelve windows. I think it’s pretty amazing that more than 9,000 people signed the guest registration book in 1937. Sadly the use of this tower had to be discontinued in 1945 due to hairline cracks that were developing. For safety purposes, the Forest Service decided to remove the towers upper level in 1947.
In 1983, the Forest Service reconstructed the upper portion of this popular landmark to what you see today. The goal was to replicate the original design and to preserve the historical integrity of the tower.
Bartram Trail (Yellow Blaze) passes through the tower area
Appalachian Trail (White Blaze)
Additional sites in this area:
Wilson Lick Ranger Station
Picnic Tables: Yes (located at the Grassy “Bald” Area.
Restrooms: Yes (Pit Bathrooms)
Hike to Tower: Suitable for all ages and senior friendly. The path is paved.
Parking fees: No
Entrance fees: No