MURPHY, N.C. – The USDA Forest Service announced that it is opening the Panther Top Fire Tower to the public for fall leaf viewing on Saturday, October 26th from 10 a.m. until 4 p.m. This Forest Service fire tower is normally closed to the public.
The Panther Top Fire Tower is located in Cherokee County, near Hiwassee Lake. The 30-foot tall lookout tower was constructed by the Civilian Conservation Corps in 1940. Standing atop a 2,293 foot summit, Panther Top Fire Tower is the lowest situated lookout tower in western North Carolina, and it is also the most western tower in the state.
The tower will also be open to the public on Sunday October 27, Saturday November 2 and Sunday November 3. Several other Forest Service roads provide fall leaf viewing opportunities including Webb Mill Road near Andrews and Fires Creek Road in Clay County. Travelers should use caution on these narrow roads because of the mountainous terrain and additional traffic. For more information, call the Tusquitee Ranger District Office at 828-837-5152.
DIRECTIONS TO PANTHER TOP TOWER FROM MURPHY:
- Take Hwy 64 West for approx. 7 miles. Turn right onto NC 294, then go 0.8 miles to Panther Top road (SR1303), and go 2 miles. The road forks and the pavement becomes gravel. Take a right, continuing on Panther Top Road for another 1 mile. At the top of the hill, turn left. Continue approx. ½ mile to the tower.
The shooting range is in the general area. If you traveled about 0.7 of a mile on Panther Top Road, you’ll see the entrance is on the left , up the hill and through the gate with another 0.2 miles to the range.
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