Shuckstack Fire Tower Great Smoky Mountains National Park, NC
DIFFICULTY 17.6 Medium
DURATION 3-4 hours
There And
Back Again
Shuckstack Fire Tower

Hike northbound along the Appalachian Trail from where it enters the Great Smoky Mountains National Park to Shuckstack mountain and fire tower for 360-degree views including Fontana Lake and Dam. Not an easy hike by any means, but a steep ascent will reward you will amazing views of the surrounding mountains. Make sure to leave the pupper at home, dogs are not allowed on the trails in the park.

You can drive across the dam and follow the road staying to the right for parking right next to the trailhead where the road dead ends. The Lakeshore Trail begins at the end of the road and the AT heads north on the left just before at the info board. There's also a small parking lot after the dam on the way but if all else fails, park at the two large lots at the Fontana Dam Visitors Center just before crossing the dam. This will add 2 miles onto your hike.

Once you're on the AT, navigation is easy. The only side trail is the one you want to take to the fire tower at the end. There's one potential creek crossing if it's rained a lot recently, but it would still be easy to cross. At 2.8 miles you'll come to a view along a section of bare rock. At 3.2 miles the AT leaves to the left, but continue straight to hike up the side trail to Shuckstack.

Arriving at the summit of Shuckstack mountain, a stone chimney from the tower cabin remains on the left and the fire tower on the right. Carefully climb the steps to the top of the tower to rise high above the trees and catch 360-degree views. You can climb all the way into the room at the top, however, the wooden floor boards look a bit worse for wear than the steps leading up.

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Elevation Map Length (miles) by Elevation (feet)
Slope Breakdown
Elevation Gain
Elevation Range
Grade Range
Elevation Gain
0 - 250 ft/mi
~ 0 - 5 %
0.8 mi
74 ft
250 - 500 ft/mi
~ 5 - 10 %
0.3 mi
119 ft
500 - 750 ft/mi
~ 10 - 15 %
0.8 mi
482 ft
750 - 1000 ft/mi
~ 15 - 20 %
1 mi
882 ft
1000+ ft/mi
~ 20+ %
0.6 mi
815 ft
For out-and-back hikes, elevation loss is the same as the gain.
Terrain Map Click to control map
0.0 mi
0.0 mi - Trailhead To get to the trailhead, cross the dam and stay to the right when the road splits twice. The trailhead is on the left just before the end of the road at the info sign.
2.8 mi
2.8 mi - View
3.2 mi
3.2 mi - Stay Straight The AT continues to the left, but stay straight for the side trail to Shuckstack fire tower.
3.3 mi
3.3 mi - Shuckstack Fire Tower
length6.7 miles
difficulty17.6 Medium-Hard
duration3 - 4 hours
features History  Summit  Views 
trail typeThere And Back Again
elevation gain2350 ft.
park/forestGreat Smoky Mountains National Park
ranger districtGreat Smoky Mountain National Park
107 Park Headquarters Road
Gatlinburg, TN 37738
865-436-1200 (dial 0 for the Visitor's Center)
parking feeNone
trailhead coordinates 35.460611, -83.811092 (Degree Decimal, DegDec)
N 35°27.64, W 83°48.67 (Degree Minutes, MinDec)
N 35°27'38'', N 35°27'38'' (Degree Minutes Seconds, DMS)
Trailhead Directions
35.460611, -83.811092 (Degree Decimal, DegDec)
N 35°27.64, W 83°48.67 most GPS units use this one
N 35°27'38'', N 35°27'38'' (Degree Minutes Seconds, DMS)
Google Map It
Parking Capacity
15 vehicles around trailhead and more down the road, 2 large parking lots at Fontana Dam Visitor Center
For up to date park and road closures, visit GSMNP Alerts or follow @SmokiesRoadsNPS on Twitter.
Dogs are not allowed on trails in the park.
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Reviews / Comments
Average Review Rating
5 (1)
hikethesouth-4 years ago
Epic Views
Amazing views from Shuckstack fire tower in all directions. Not quite as epic as some of the ones at the higher elevations in the Smokies, but definitely worth the tough climb up. If you can go on a weekday there's a good chance you'll have the tower all to yourself.
Medium-Hard | Hiked Summer 2019
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