|Length: 10 miles roundtrip
Highlights: 360 degree view of the east end of the park
Caution: Rocks around tower may be difficult to negotiate,
especially in snow
Note: Best hiked on a clear day to enjoy the view
In order to
avoid climbing during the hotter part of the day, leave the
trailhead as early as possible. Not only will you appreciate
the extra time for breaks, but you will also stand a better
chance of dodging the afternoon thunderstorms that frequent
the Smokies during the summer months.
From Cosby Campground, there are two possible routes you can
walk to access the tower. Truly adventuresome souls can walk
up the Lower Mt. Cammerer Trail, take the Appalachian Trail,
visit the tower, then continue on the Appalachian Trail, eventually
descending down the Low Gap Trail to return to the campground.
While this route will afford you a great loop and little to
no repetition in scenery, it is a rather lengthy fifteen and
a half miles.
The "short route" to Mt. Cammerer is to take the Low
Gap Trail to the Appalachian Trail, visit the tower, and return
via the same route. The trek is steep, but slightly shorter
at ten and a half miles, and is the route most folks use to
reach the tower. There is no "easy" way to reach the
tower, but those willing to make the trek will be well rewarded!
Due to the shorter distance, we will ascend to the tower on
the Low Gap Trail. The first mile or so of the trail is very
pleasant, taking you through the lush green forest along Cosby
Creek. Eventually, the trail becomes more open, as a series
of long switchbacks complete the ascent to the Appalachian Trail.
At two and a half miles, you will enter a large clearing and
a four-way intersection; take a left onto the Appalachian Trail.
After a little more climbing, the trail levels out for a half-mile
or so along a beautiful grassy ridge top. Youll make one
more brief climb before reaching the side trail for the Mt.
Cammerer fire tower. The trail to the tower is slightly more
than half a mile long and fairly level, but does involve some
rock scrambling as you approach the tower. Take your time and
watch your step.
Unlike the other fire towers that remain in the Smokies, which
are made of metal, the Mt. Cammerer fire tower was constructed
of native rock and timber. The tower was built by the Civilian
Conservation Corps in the latter 1930s, and restored through
generous donations from the public during the mid 1990s.
Both the tower and the rocky mountain peak it occupies were
named for Arno Cammerer, who was Director of the National Park
Service around the time the Smokies were designated as a national
You can take in the view from the catwalk that encircles the
tower or view it from the towers interior, which remains
open to the public (despite the fire towers cozy interior,
it is illegal to camp in the tower and overnight visits are
not allowed). To the east you can see Snowbird Mountain, Max
Patch, and Marys Knob. To the south you can easily make
out the Mt. Sterling fire tower. To the west lies the remainder
of the Great Smoky Mountains. The view is truly a sight to behold.
When youre finished taking in the view, eating lunch,
or napping on the warm rocks, return to the campground via the