The Shuckstack fire tower is just 1/10th of a mile from the Appalachian Trail and a 3.4 miles from the nearest road. The best way to access the tower is on the north side of Fontana Dam, which is on the N.C. side of the park.
Shuckstack is on the North Carolina side of the Park. From Bryson, take NC 28 to Fontana Dam. Start your hike from the north side of the dam.
In the 3.5 miles up the trail to the fire tower you will climb over 2000 feet making the trail very challenging. Please check with rangers before attempting any trail for weather and trail conditions.
Over View / Shuck Stack Tower Trail
Historically fire towers were once used to gain a bird’s eye view of the mountains in order to spot forest fires. Three of these tower remain including the Shuckstack tower. These out of the way destinations are well worth the e effort to see the world class vistas and views they provide.
The Shuckstack fire tower is just 1/10th of a mile from the Appalachian Trail and a 3.4 miles from the nearest road. The best way to access the tower is on the north side of Fontana Dam, which is on the N.C. side of the park. The section of road you have to walk to reach the trailhead is nice and level, but it will add a little over a mile to the roundtrip distance of the hike.
As you start out across the dam, scan the mountains to the north and you’ll be able see the tower in the distance. Continue across the dam, turn to the right, and continue in a little over 1/2 a mile to the Appalachian Trail. From here the hike is a challenging ascent up the Twentymile Ridge. The trail is uphill for much of the 3.5 miles to the tower. At around 2.5 miles the trail will level out and the hike will become easier for the next half mile. Just before you reach the tower, the trail becomes quite steep. Once on Twentymile Ridge, you’ll encounter a 3 way intersection. The Appalachain Trail is marked with white line marked on the trees. The trail to the tower is marked as well.
From this vantage point, you’ll be able to make out the dam and all of the land you covered on your way to the tower. The hike back to your car is much easier and very rewarding!
Cover photo: Brian Stansberry [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html), CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/) or CC BY 2.5 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.5)], via Wikimedia Commons