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mount cammerer fire tower - to hike or not?

Texas
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mount cammerer fire tower - to hike or not?

I'm planning an early October trip - our first to the Smokies. I'm wondering if I should try to include a hike to Mt. Cammerer to see the fire tower and wanted to get opinions from those who have been there. My DH is a firefighter, so I thought this would be signifcant to him. We are not experienced hikers, but are young and in shape and up for a challenge. What's your opionion of the difficulty and worthiness of visiting this area of the park?

We'll be staying near G'burg, so how long should I set aside for this activity, if we decide to do it? Can you actually go inside the fire tower or on the observation deck?

Chickamauga, Georgia
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1. Re: mount cammerer fire tower - to hike or not?

I've never done the fire tower hike because of it's length and difficulty, but here's two different routes to take to it below.

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Mt. Cammerer Loop Hike: 16.1 miles

<Strenuous> <Rocky> <Steep Grade>

Trailhead: Lower Mt. Cammerer trailhead, Cosby Campground.

Take note: Park in Hiker Parking to avoid the wrath of the campground host.

Highlights: Sutton Ridge Overlook, Mt. Cammerer fire tower, some nice ridge top walking.

Caution!!! Extremely steep and rocky 2.5 mile stretch along the Appalachian Trail (Nature's Stairmaster!).

Route: There is a shorter route available (see the next hike), but this route allows for a great loop with no back-tracking and the two trailheads are within a few hundred feet of one another. Either hike

could be used by someone willing to work for a spectacular sunset or sunrise, but bring a flashlight!

Begin on the Lower Mt. Cammerer Trail. Follow it 7.4 miles to the Appalachian Trail. Turn right, travel about 2.5 miles...all up the stair-master-like hill J . Turn right on the Mt. Cammerer Trail and travel the 0.6 miles out to the tower and back, but continue straight on up the Appalachian Trail. After 2.1 miles, take a right on the Low Gap Trail. You'll be back at Cosby Campground in about 2.5 miles.

---------------------------------------------------

Mt. Cammerer (the shorter way): 10.4 miles

<Strenuous> <Rocky> <Steep Grade>

Trailhead: Low Gap trailhead, Cosby Campground.

Take note: Park in Hiker Parking to avoid the wrath of the campground host.

Highlights: Fire tower, ridge top hiking for a short distance, shorter than the 16.1 mile version.

Great Idea: Take a camera and plan for lunch and a short nap at the fire tower.

Route: Take Low Gap Trail to the Appalachian Trail. Turn left on the Appalachian Trail and proceed to the Mt. Cammerer Trail. Take the Mt. Cammerer Trail to the tower. Return via the same route.

Alabama
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2. Re: mount cammerer fire tower - to hike or not?

We hiked the shorter route about 5 years ago. We enjoyed it and I think it took us around 5 to 6 hours total. We went inside the tower. We took our lunch and ate it at the tower. We never saw a bear but there were fresh bear paw prints at the bottom.

Chattanooga...
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3. Re: mount cammerer fire tower - to hike or not?

This is one of my very favorite hikes (the 2nd one that Kat mentioned), so I've got to say "Yes, it's very much worth it!". It's not actually a tower, just a building perched on a rocky point that gives a great 360 degree view. But it was built as a fire lookout, so that ties in to DH's occupation.

There's a couple of good discussions here from back in May. From the Smokies Nat'l Park forum, search on "cammerer" and look at the Gemgirl56 one dated June 2 and the Tnsoccer07 one dated May 19. That second one has a link to some nice pictures.

Just to re-emphasize, the round trip will be about 10.8 miles if you just walk up the road from the hiker parking area, then pick up the clearly visible footpath going straight ahead to a gated old roadbed. That knocks about .2 of a mile off in each direction that's not particularly special in any way. The Low Gap part is tough, gaining nearly 2000 feet in 2.7 miles; the first mile's not so bad, but from there on to the gap is some pretty stout climbing; just plug away and you'll make it. Regroup at the gap, then there's a little more climbing on the AT, but nothing like you've already got behind you. At a moderate pace (2 miles an hour overall), plus an hour at the top, 6.5 hours would be a reasonable amount of time to allocate. And good comfortable but sturdy footwear is a must.

It will take about 1/2 hour to drive from G'burg, depending on just where you're staying. Just don't miss the turn into the Cosby Campground part of the park. There's a little country store type of place on the left and a small bridge right ahead; turn right or you'll end up on a long ugly stretch of road.

If DH is bound and bent to climb an actual tower, post another question about Mt Sterling tower, and we'll discuss that. There's more driving involved (including dirt roads), it's a slightly steeper climb, but it's half the hiking mileage. But I think it's an even better 360 degree view.

Boston...
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4. Re: mount cammerer fire tower - to hike or not?

Now that Smokies_hiker, good man that he is, has covered the important stuff, I'll just add on that this is a great hike. We actually did it together, and I did it again at a later date. The fire lookout is interesting, and a views are great. The trail isn't really really interesting, but the portion after Low Gap is nice enough and the bit at the bottom with the streams is pretty nice. Towards the end the trees give way to short bushes, making you feel like you are above the tree line and much higher than you actually are to a certain extent. Pretty cool. If you aren't way tired after you come back down (a likely possibility), walk the nature trail. There are many footbridges; it's one of my favourite walks in the whole park. Cosby is also a good place for picnicking.

Kristian

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5. Re: mount cammerer fire tower - to hike or not?

This hike would be the most strenous of all the hikes you mentioned in your earlier post but the views were awesome from the tower.It took us around 7-8 hrs including an hour at the tower.

I would suggest you do the Chimney Tops Trail which is 2 miles to get an idea of what the hike would be like. The hike to Cammerer is almost 3 times as long. Charlies Bunion is a very nice hike. I saw you mentioned that one. The side trip to the jumpoff on the Boulevard trail is worth the extra half mile or so. A little difficult to find. I think there was a little rock cairn marking the turnoff.

And like smokies hiker mentioned good footwear is a must. Your toes will take a beating coming down!

Almost forgot to mention.I wouldn't be without hiking poles on trails like this. It really helps take some of the weight off your knees especially when there are a lot of rocks on the trail. Hope this helps. Enjoy your trip.

Boston...
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6. Re: mount cammerer fire tower - to hike or not?

"I would suggest you do the Chimney Tops Trail which is 2 miles to get an idea of what the hike would be like. The hike to Cammerer is almost 3 times as long."

As a note: Chimney Tops is four miles round trip with 2,000 feet of elevation gain; Mt. Cammerer is eleven miles round trip with 3,000 feet of elevation gain. So while Mt. Cammerer is a much longer trail and has more elevation gain, it's also much less steep.

Indiana
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7. Re: mount cammerer fire tower - to hike or not?

Yes, do make time for this hike. we hiked it for the first time in Feb and the view was great. the first 2.5 mi is tough, but after that it is pretty easy. enjoy lunch at the top.

8. Re: mount cammerer fire tower - to hike or not?

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