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Mount Noble Lookout Tower – Qualla Boundary, NC

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Length Difficulty Streams Views Solitude Camping
5.2 mls N/A N/A
Hiking Time:
Elev. Gain:

3 hours with 45 minutes of breaks
1,590 ft
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Park at the large lot for the Fire Mountain Trail System. 35.48802, -83.32340

By Trail Contributor: Zach Robbins (Contact Zach)

The overlooked Mount Noble Lookout Tower in the Qualla Boundary of the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians provides fantastic views of the mountain ranges surrounding Cherokee, NC. The route to the summit, the Fire Tower Trail, is part of the excellent, new Fire Mountain Trail System located minutes from downtown Cherokee in the upper parking lot of the Oconaluftee Indian Village. For the first third of the hike, you’ll pass by multiple mountain biking trails through open hardwood forests. After the third trail crossing the Fire Tower Trail leaves the mountain biking system behind, climbing the southwest side of Mount Noble. This hike is not for the faint-hearted. The trail climbs approximately 1,600 feet in 2.6 miles. There is rarely a flat section to regain your breath. Despite the difficulty of this short hike, the trail is in excellent condition and easy to follow. You’ll finish at the southern subpeak of Mount Noble, which is home to the lookout tower and multiple communication towers. The steel Aermotor tower, built in 1957, is 60 feet tall. Even though the tower is in shoddy aesthetic condition, the windowless cab has tremendous 360° views. To enjoy these views, you’ll need to use extreme caution since half of the floor boards are missing in the tower cab. Despite these drawbacks, the views from the Mount Noble lookout tower are amongst the best in the region. The Great Smoky, Plott Balsam, Great Balsam, Cowee, Alarka, Nantahala, and Cheoah Mountain ranges are in full view surrounding the tower. There is arguably no better view of the Plott Balsam crest in the state. Despite the condition of the lookout tower, it remains open to the public and is well worth a visit.

May 2018 Update - BIA Forestry has rebuilt the chain link fence around the base of the tower, closing it until further notice. We are unsure if there are future rehabilitation efforts to improve the condition of the tower.

Late December
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