Asheville TrailsbyTrailful Outdoor Co
Appalachian Trail in North Carolina

Mt Cammerer

Hike to stunning summit views and the iconic, historic fire lookout tower on the summit of Mt Cammerer, following the Chestnut Branch and Appalachian Trail in Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

georgia hiking trails: 6 or more miles 12 miles
(round trip)
? Your mileage may vary! Accuracy of your GPS device, weather conditions, and stops along your route will affect your own recorded distance.
georgia hiking trails: moderate to difficultmore
?Our difficulty estimate, based on distance, terrain, elevation change, & ease of wayfinding. May vary daily due to weather, trail reroutes, downed trees, etc.
georgia hiking trails: no dogs allowed No dogs
?Due to park regulations, no dogs are allowed on this trail. Check out our favorite dog-friendly trails near Asheville for a great hike with your pup.

LOCATION:in Great Smoky Mountains National Park

PACK:our Osprey day pack and our hiking gear list

OFFICIAL MAP: Trails Illustrated Great Smoky Mountains National Park Map (find it at Trailful Outdoor Co.)

Scaling to just under 5,000 feet, Mt Cammerer is one of the more iconic summits on the Appalachian Trail’s meandering journey through Great Smoky Mountains National Park. The hike to the summit is a moderately difficult one, following the Chestnut Branch Trail and the AT on a 3200-foot climb through scenic forest. Spanning over twelve miles, round trip, this adventure makes for a lengthy day hike or a fantastic overnight backpacking journey.

Mt Cammerer: hike the Appalachian Trail to a historic fire tower in Great Smoky Mountains National Park

A historic, western-style fire lookout tower crowns the mountain’s summit, offering outstanding 360-degree views of the surrounding Smokies and the nearby town of Gatlinburg. It’s a fantastic hike in every season, but exceptionally beautiful in the summertime when the trail’s abundant rhododendron explode into bloom, and in autumn when fall’s colorful beauty paints the rolling peaks of the Smoky Mountains.

Hike to stunning summit views and the iconic, historic fire lookout tower on the summit of Mt Cammerer, following the Chestnut Branch and Appalachian Trail in Great Smoky Mountains National Park. #hiking #trailrunning #backpacking #asheville #nc #northcarolina #travel #outdoors #adventure

Mt Cammerer: the hike

The adventure begins at the Chestnut Ridge Trailhead (view maps and driving directions). The trailhead is located just past the intersection of Mount Sterling Road with Waterville Road: the turn-off for the trailhead is across from the ranger station on the right. From the Chestnut Ridge parking area, at 1,658 feet, the hike follows the gravel road for approximately 100 meters and turns right, through horse gates, and begins following the Chestnut Branch. Welcome to the first pitch of incline and the general trend of the hike’s journey to the summit.

The trail’s single track beautifully winds its way up along Chestnut Branch. A plethora of moss-covered granite and schist careen water down toward Big Creek and the Pigeon River to the north. This section of the trail offers a mixed-bag of steep ascent and mellow traverse up to its convergence with the Appalachian Trail at 2.25 miles. The hike ascends just under 1,200 feet in this distance, which accounts for a little over a third of its total elevation gain to the summit. Upon reaching the AT, a two-way sign indicates the Cammerer summit spur trail lies to the south, and the hike turns left to follow the AT southbound.

Mt Cammerer on the Appalachian Trail

The Appalachian Trail winds its way through several tunnels of rhododendron, checkered by mountain views to the East through the thinning tree line. Stairs are bountiful here, leading to the first summit views of the mountain around 4.3 miles, as the trail winds westward below the summit. Though the summit appears near, the distance can be deceiving: a grand ascent is ahead, just under two miles to the summit and tower. Groves of mountain maple, American beech, and basswood begin to give way to spruce-fir. Several springs on the trail’s right side offer the opportunity for a water refill prior to the summit (but please remember to purify backcountry water).

The trail begins a precipitous path with a stone wall dominating the trail’s left side, with vertical rock faces to the right. The hike departs the AT at 5.4 miles, making a sharp turn northbound to the summit and following the summit spur trail.

Mt Cammerer on the Appalachian Trail

Six-tenths of a mile of rock-laden, mucky single track trail makes a direct path to the Mt Cammerer summit and historic fire lookout tower. 360-degree panoramic views extend to the Pigeon River Valley to the northeast and Gatlinburg to the west. Mid-week hikes in the off-season usually score some solitude on the summit, but high-traffic hiking season can lead to crowded conditions at this iconic fire tower. (If you’re overnighting on the mountain in peak season or on the weekend, be prepared for a potential short traverse back to the AT for tent-able flat ground.)

Mt Cammerer on the Appalachian Trail

Departing the summit, the return hike retraces its outbound steps to the trailhead. It’s a hiker’s delight, descending gradually to the AT, and then making a right turn on the Chestnut Branch Trail at 9.75 miles. The hike reaches the trailhead at 12 miles, completing the adventure.

More view-packed summit adventures

Up for some more sublime summit views? Hike the Alum Cave Trail to Mt LeConte, another of our all-time favorite hikes in the Smokies. Follow the Appalachian Trail to Charlies Bunion, catching stunning views along a rocky, rugged, and steep section of the AT from Newfound Gap. And don’t miss our favorite hikes to fire lookout towers near Asheville for a chance to score a beautiful view from another historic tower.

Leave No Trace: Atlanta Trails, Asheville Trails and Trailful are official Leave No Trace partners

Please Remember

Always leave no trace, pack out everything you pack in, and if you see trash, pick it up and pack it out.

Stay on the marked trail, tell someone where you're going, pack safety and wayfinding essentials, and don't rely on a mobile phone to find your way. Please always practice good trail etiquette. And before you go, always check the trailhead kiosk, official maps, and the park or ranger office for notices of changed routes, trail closures, safety information, and restrictions.

Mount Cammerer Map, Directions & Details

This map shows our approximate route while exploring this trail, but does not replace an official trail map. Please refer to the official trail map for the most current and accurate route.

Love the trail?

This trail is maintained thanks to the hard work of countless volunteers and donations from supporters of the Appalachian Trail Conservancy. Please support them by making a donation or joining a volunteer day. Let's work together to keep these fantastic trails maintained and open for use!

Driving Directions



GPS Coordinates

35.759850, -83.105600     //     N35 45.591 W83 06.336

Elevation Profile

Mount Cammerer via Chestnut Branch and Appalachian Trail Elevation Profile

Nicholas Walsh is a adventure photojournalist from the Appalachian Mountains of West Virginia. The son of avid outdoorsman father and a mother with a passion for education, he sought to wander his home from an early age. With passions for snowboarding, cross-country skiing, surfing, and whitewater paddling developing before his seventh birthday, it became clear that both a personal and professional life spent outdoors and abroad would be in his future. Nick is a freelance photojournalist, based in Atlanta, Georgia with professional affiliations to several media and photographic production firms. Follow him on Instagram: @_shootnick_