Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Barnett Knob Fire Tower Hike

Barnett Knob Fire Tower Hike

Dana Koogler solo

Monday Sept. 10, 2012

Pictures are here starting with frame 37
Barnett Knob Pix

   I  was in serious need of some time outdoors so I planned on Monday to get out and hike to see the Barnett Knob Fire Tower.  I 
also planned to enjoy the views and Fall wildflowers and lunch at Balsam Mountain Picnic area.  I would then head back to Smokemont
and hike to Chasteen Creek Cascade.  A good days outing, but nothing
too extreme.   

     The day was gorgeously clear with temperatures in the sixties in the higher elevations.   I was blessed with sunshine, fresh air, and grand stand views.    Traffic was not too bad on a random Monday.

      I quickly found the turn off road for Barnett Fire Tower.
I parked and grabbed my gear and headed up there.  It was an easy hike and simple to find.    The fire tower was still standing including the old watchman's cabin.    I went inside the cabin and prowled around.  The tower was manned and used until 2004 according to Peter Barr's book.    It was the most modern watchman's cabin I'd ever seen.   Cowee Bald Tower is also very modern, but this one during the time it was used would have been the one to get my vote for "Most Comforts of Home".   Watchman's Cabin at Barnett Knob Tower

Watchman's Cabin at Barnett Knob--I found it still standing & unlocked.

Barnett Knob Tower

   I climbed up in the tower itself and enjoyed the views.  I'd picked the perfect day for this sort of trip.  It was very clear and the air smelled great.  It was cooling off and I could sense the gradual approach of Fall.    I could see the Smoky Mountains, the Plott Balsams, Mt. Noble and its tower in the distance.   I could see the privy down below. I had not been able to see it until I climbed up. 

My favorite view from Barnett Knob Tower taken from between the legs. I found the cab pad locked.  Looks as though it is still being used to gather weather info.

     I found a heater on in the cabin and it was cherry red hot.    It was in the ceiling of the bathroom.   I found a switch and tried to turn it off. Eventually it did go cold, but I
could not tell if the switch turned it off or if it was set to cycle?  I wrote to Peter Barr about it to see if he had any answers.  Hot as it was I'd feared it would burn down the hut!  I am waiting to see if I hear from him.

      I hiked back down to the jeep and proceeded out to Balsam Mountain.
The drive along the parkway was great.   My thermometer registered 59 degrees by the time I stopped for lunch.  I enjoyed the goldenrod, gentian, asters and other flowers along the way.  I began to feel poorly so I stopped to eat and rest.   I've been struggling with an illness that has made its way through my family for a month now.   I'd wakened feeling pretty good and believed I might finally be over it.   Now the fever, chills, body aches and cough returned full force.   Ever the stubborn mule that I am.. I was not going to be so easily outdone.  I popped a couple tylenol tabs, ate lunch, took some deep breaths, and rested.   I figured "Shoot! I'll get this temperature and chills beat back and ride on out to Smokemont. I'll certainly feel like hiking once I get there."  That is what I told myself.

      I headed to Smokemont and continued to tell myself I was fine.
I got out my hiking guide for a quick glance at the directions to Chasteen Creek Cascade.
I'd hiked to this falls before and found it very easy.    I sat there looking at the directions and the reality of my situation confronted me.  I was SICK.  Really sick. It was not going away. I was getting worse.    It was going to take everything I had to drive home. No one was there to call to come meet me.  I had to fix this myself.   I backed out of there and began heading home.  The drive seemed like it took forever because of the misery I was in.    I finally made it and boy was I pleased to be home.

       I started some antibiotics right away and went back and forth from the bed to the couch.    My day didn't go as planned, but I got out for a little bit.   I'm feeling better today.   The chills, fever, body aches and cough are gone.   Thank the Lord for that!

Mile  High Overlook Balsam Mtn Road  GSMNP NC  6/17/07
View from Mile High Overlook

Below is a short video of climbing the fire tower. 


  1. I was in the mountains looking at that same gorgeous sky yesterday! I hiked Jakes Creek trail out of Elkmont. So sorry you became ill....that would be awful and what a horrid drive to make when sick anyway (all those curves!!). So glad today seems to be better. I'm not familiar with that particular fire tower, but you better bet I will be now! Take care, get well! Happy hiking!

    1. Thanks Sharon. If you go see the fire tower... check to make sure the heater is off?! :-D Jakes Creek is a pretty trail. I need to take my grandson and hike up as far as the Avent Cabin and let him play in the creek. Thanks too for the well wishes. It's cool we were out on the same day. I bet you had way more fun than me and lots less driving. I am hoping to go kayaking and do some off trail stuff this Sunday with the hubby. I want to paddle back the mouth of Abrams Creek to try to find Panther Falls. We'll go and take the pistol and say a prayer!


Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.