Asheville TrailsbyTrailful Outdoor Co
Appalachian Trail in North Carolina

Wesser Bald Fire Tower

Hike to the Wesser Bald Tower on the Appalachian Trail in NC, climbing to exceptionally beautiful panoramic views from a historic lookout tower near Tellico Gap.

georgia hiking trails: 2-4 miles 2.8 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: moderaterelatively
?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: dog-friendly Dog-
?Leashed dogs are allowed on this trail. We’ve loved hiking this route with our trail-loving Labrador Retrievers! Check out more of our favorite dog-friendly trails near Asheville for a great hike with your pup.

LOCATION:on the Appalachian Trail near Franklin, NC

PACK:our Osprey day pack and our hiking gear list

OFFICIAL MAP: Nat Geo 785 Trails Illustrated Map (find it at Trailful Outdoor Co.)

Wesser Bald rises high above the surrounding valleys in the Nantahala National Forest, an exceptionally beautiful and scenic swath of forest in western North Carolina. And while it’s no longer technically a mountain bald (dense tree cover now blankets the mountain’s summit), the mountain offers outstanding views from its summit, thanks to a metal fire lookout tower and wooden observation deck at the top.

This hike makes a moderate trek on the Appalachian Trail through a beautiful hardwood forest, climbing from Tellico Gap. At the summit, the hike grabs incredible, 360-degree views from the former fire tower. For such a relatively short distance (under three miles, round-trip), the views are simply amazing, stretching far and wide.

Wesser Bald Fire Tower on the Appalachian Trail

Stunning views. A historic fire tower. Gorgeous forest. This stretch of the Appalachian Trail delivers a ton in a relatively short distance and is one of our all-time favorite hikes near Franklin.

Hike to the Wesser Bald Tower on the Appalachian Trail in NC, climbing to exceptionally beautiful panoramic views from a historic lookout tower near Tellico Gap. #hiking #trailrunning #backpacking #asheville #nc #northcarolina #travel #outdoors #adventure

Wesser Bald on the Appalachian Trail: the hike

The hike departs from a gravel parking area on the side of Tellico Rd (NC SR 1365) at Tellico Gap (view maps and driving directions), following the white-blazed Appalachian Trail westbound from the gap. The hike dives into tree cover, trailing through rhododendron and mountain laurel and passing a wooden Tellico Gap sign.

The AT meanders through wide switchbacks, beginning a nearly unrelenting climb to the summit. Young hardwoods fill the forest, towering above the leafy underbrush and rooty soil. In autumn, the oak and maple display brilliant color that contrasts with the evergreen laurel and rhododendron, making the hike exceptionally colorful and beautiful.

Wesser Bald Fire Tower on the Appalachian Trail

The Appalachian Trail continues its upward climb, reaching the hike’s halfway point at .7 mile just after rounding a switchback. The AT passes a small camp on the trail’s right just after the 1-mile mark.

The trail veers north, nearing the summit and making a final trek through sharp switchbacks. The trail passes through a clearing at 1.25 miles before darting back into the forest and making a sharp right. Reaching the Wesser Bald summit, the hike passes an overlook before turning right, making a final climb to the summit.

Wesser Bald Fire Tower on the Appalachian Trail

The Wesser Bald lookout tower rises from the rocky mountain, stretching above the surrounding trees. The metal base is historic, predating a fire in the former USFS fire lookout cab. The current wooden observation platform is a recent addition and offers a sun-drenched spot to take in the sublime, panoramic view. It’s a fantastic picnic spot, too – and a great place to catch a colorful sunrise or sunset.

The hike departs the summit and flips in reverse, following the outbound trek on the Appalachian Trail to Tellico Gap, and completing the hike at 2.8 miles.

Nearby fire lookout tower hikes on the Appalachian Trail

In the area with daylight and energy to spare? Chase some more exceptional summit views on the Appalachian Trail with a hike to the Albert Mountain fire tower, a 4-miler on the AT. Or scale the grassy, wildflower-covered summit of Siler Bald to stunning, 360-degree views just off the Appalachian Trail.

And don’t miss our other favorite hikes to fire lookout towers near Asheville for more chances to score an incredible summit view from a 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.

Wesser Bald Tower on the Appalachian Trail 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


Free parking is available at the trailhead. Before you go, check for seasonal trail and road closures on the USFS Nantahala National Forest site.

GPS Coordinates

35.268480, -83.572368     //     N35 16.092 W83 34.344

Elevation Profile

Wesser Bald Tower on the Appalachian Trail Elevation Profile

Eric Champlin is a creative director and photographer who loves to explore southeast. He's the co-owner of Trailful Outdoor Co, a locally-owned hiking outfitter shop in Hiawassee in the Georgia mountains near the Appalachian Trail. He’s also the co-founder of Atlanta Trails and Asheville Trails, digital magazines that highlight the South’s best outdoor adventures. His mission? To inspire others to get fit outdoors and explore the South’s incredible scenic beauty.