Fryingpan Mountain Tower: Blue Ridge Parkway hiking near Mt Pisgah

Hike to stunning summit views from a historic steel fire tower just off the Blue Ridge Parkway near Mt Pisgah on the 1.4 mile (roundtrip) Fryingpan Mountain Tower Trail.

 

trail info

TRAIL LOCATION: South of Asheville on the Blue Ridge Parkway near Mt Pisgah

GEAR: Osprey Stratos 24 Backpack w/ our favorite day hike gear and Canon 6D DSLR

OFFICIAL MAP: Nat Geo 780 Trails Illustrated Map

 

South of Asheville, the Blue Ridge Parkway meanders through some exceptionally stunning landscapes. The oddly-named but easily-accessed Fryingpan Mountain is no exception: rising roughly 350 feet from a trailhead on the Blue Ridge Parkway, the views from the mountain’s summit are sweeping and wide. And, thanks to a historic, 70-foot-tall steel fire tower at the mountain’s summit, the views are even better: a short climb up several tower stories reveals panoramas of Looking Glass Rock, nearby Mt Pisgah and Cold Mountain.

Hike the Fryingpan Mountain Tower Trail on the Blue Ridge Parkway south of Asheville, NCAbove: views from the fire tower on the Fryingpan Mountain summit are simply stunning, especially in early morning light.

The Fryingpan Mountain Tower Trail follows a small graveled road, FS 450, to the mountain’s summit. It’s a relatively gentle but nearly continuous climb from the trailhead. In warmer months, the hike arcs through wildflowers and wild blueberries on the climb to the top, making the hike itself as scenic as the final destination. At 1.5 miles, roundtrip, it’s a great, million-dollar-view hike just off the Blue Ridge Parkway that’s not overly long or strenuous. And with 360-degree sweeping views of the Pisgah National Forest, it’s a great place to catch a gorgeous sunrise or sunset.

Fryingpan Mountain Tower Trail: the hike

The Fryingpan Mountain Tower Trail departs from a grassy parking area just off the Blue Ridge Parkway at MP 409.6 (view maps and driving directions), several miles south of Mt Pisgah. (Compared to other popular hikes on the Parkway, like Black Balsam Knob and the uber-popular Graveyard Fields waterfalls, the hike’s understated trailhead is easy to miss. Park off the parkway and don’t block the metal gate.)

The hike trails around the metal gate blocking the graveled FS 450, immediately beginning its ascent to the summit. (There’s a trail to the right of the gravel road that leads to the Mt Pisgah campground; follow the road, not the trail.) The hike steadily climbs along the road, trailing through swashes of tall wildflowers and thickets of wild blueberries. The hum of bees fills the cool, breezy summer mountain air as they buzz, hurriedly, from wildflower blossom to blossom.

Wildflowers and wild blueberries line the sides of the Fryingpan Mountain Tower trail in warm summer months

The hike continues following the gravel road, arcing northwest. The trail makes a sudden, sharp switchback around the mountain’s mid elevations at .4 mile as it continues to climb. Vistas open to the Fryingpan Mountain summit, catching views of the steel lookout tower.

The hike to Fryingpan Mountain visits a historic steel fire tower near the Blue Ridge Parkway

The hike levels briefly at .5 mile before resuming its climb, making a final-stretch uphill to the summit. (The trail passes active radio towers near the mountain’s peak — hikers should follow all warning signs and keep out of restricted areas.) The trail reaches the Fryingpan Mountain summit at .75 mile, catching views from the steel tower’s base. Early-morning vistas to the east are especially stunning, as morning’s first light blankets the rolling mountain landscape and fog hugs deep into the nearby valleys.

Views from the Fryingpan Mountain summit are beautiful, especially in early morning light

The views from the lookout tower at the summit are even better — and while access to the former 12’ x 12’ living quarters at the tower’s top are closed, several of the steel tower’s stories and landings are still open for viewing. The 70-foot tower, constructed in 1941, offered a prime lookout for forest fires for decades, and now stands as a prime scenic lookout.

Hike the Fryingpan Mountain Tower Trail to beautiful views from a historic fire tower near Mt Pisgah on the Blue Ridge Parkway

After savoring the views (and snapping a plethora of Instagram-worthy photos), the hike descends from the tower, retracing its outbound steps along FS450 to the Blue Ridge Parkway. The hike reaches the Fryingpan Mountain Tower trailhead at 1.5 miles, completing the hike.

 
 
 

Fryingpan Mountain Tower Trail: Directions & Details

Parking

Free (but limited) off-road parking is available at the Fryingpan Mountain parking area, MP 409.6 on the Blue Ridge Parkway south of Asheville. (Before you go, check for trail updates and parkway closures on the official Blue Ridge Parkway website.)

Please Remember

Always leave no trace and follow these trail etiquette tips.

GPS Coordinates

35.395400, -82.768767     //     N35 23.724 W82 46.126

Driving Directions


Elevation Profile

Fryingpan Mountain Tower Trail on the Blue Ridge Parkway: Elevation Profile

Fryingpan Mountain Tower Trail Map

Trail data and photos © Summit19 Studio LLC. This map is not a substitute for official trail maps or topographic maps.
 
Eric Champlin is a writer and photographer who loves to hike, run, backpack, kayak and cycle the southeast. He’s the editor and founder of Atlanta Trails and Asheville Trails, online magazines that cover the South’s best outdoor adventures. His mission? To inspire others to get fit outdoors and explore the South’s incredible scenic beauty.

Eric is also a freelance writer, photographer and creative director.