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Yellow Mountain Fire Tower

The Basics:
Event Type:Hike
Event Location: near Highlands, NC   Hike: Yellow Mountain Fire Tower  National Weather Service Forecast
Date(s) & Time:Sat, Feb 18 2023  10:30 am >> Sat, Feb 18 2023 7:00 pm  (Carpool Departure: 8:00 am   *log in for location*)
Registration Opens: Tue, Feb 7 2023 7:52 pm
Registration Cut Off: Fri, Feb 17 2023 5:02 pm
Event Duration:8 Hours 30 Minutes
Difficulty Rating:D5: Difficult
Distance:12.6 Miles
Trip Leader(s):
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You must be logged in to get the Trip Leader contact information.
Member Cost:None

Participant Info:
Who's Invited: Members Only, 21 And Older Only
Maximum Group Size:12
Minimum Group Size:3
Number Registered So Far: 11 / 0 (To see who's signed up, log in to the Member Area)
Are Dogs Permitted: No



Yellow Mountain towers above the Nantahala National Forest between Cashiers and Highlands, North Carolina. To knock off the summit of Yellow Mountain, we will complete a 12.5 mile roundtrip hike on a trail loaded with heart-pumping climbs and toe-jamming descents... because climbing the highest peak in the Cowee Mountains requires not only summiting Yellow Mountain, but also three additional peaks.

We start at Cole Gap at 4,200 feet and then ascend to Cole Mountain at 4,600 feet. From there we descend, only to ascend again to the three peaks of Shortoff Mountain at 5,000 feet. Then it is down to Yellow Mountain Gap at 4120 feet, followed by a long climb to Yellow Mountain at 5,127 feet. When we finally reach the fire tower at the tippy-top of Yellow Mountain, we will be rewarded with a spectacular panoramic view with no obstruction.

The tower straddling Yellow Mountain’s summit was built in 1934 by Franklin Roosevelt’s Depression-era Civilian Conservation Corps, and it was used for more than three decades until 1969. Like many of historic towers dotting the Appalachians, the Yellow Mountain fire tower fell into disrepair when it was decommissioned. But thankfully it was preserved in the mid-1980s, and it’s now listed on the National Historic Register.

We'll enjoy a well-earned lunch and views from the tower before heading back down (and up!) the way we came. In all, we will have about 3,000 feet elevation gain. 

Your Trip Leader may stop in Clayton for dinner afterwards, so please arrange your carpools accordingly.

I will be contacting anyone who has not recently completed at least a D4 or a D5 hike with the AOC to make sure this is an appropriate hike for you.

Required Items to Bring:

water or other hydrating fluid - at least 2 liters

lunch for on the trail

broken-in hiking boots

Recommended Items to Bring:
Use our Event Checklists to make sure you have everything you need.

bag for dirty boots

hiking poles

change of clothes for the ride home

How to Get There:
Event Directions:


Carpool to Event Distance (round trip):230Mile(s)
Carpool Departure Time: 8:00 am
Carpool Location:   Log in for location
Carpool Directions:   Log in for directions
Carpool Cost: Estimated cost per vehicle for this event is $92.00 using a reimbursement rate guideline of $0.400 per mile. The total amount should be divided by the number of people in the vehicle, including the driver. This is a guideline, not a rule, for drivers but the cost should not be higher unless there are extenuating circumstances.

* We encourage all members to follow our Etiquette Guidelines while participating in AOC events.

Cost Includes:

Carpool cost: Approximate vehicle expense for this event is $92.00 (calculated at total miles (230) *$0.400, effective Wednesday, March 07, 2012). This is based on the current gas, maintenance, and other costs of $0.400 per mile as stated by the IRS and This should be divided by the total number of people in the vehicle (incl. driver). For example, with 4 people in the vehicle, the expense per person on this trip would be $23.00. Alternately your carpool driver may choose to split the maintenance cost plus the actual gas cost among all in the vehicle. Your carpool driver will confirm exactly how much money they require to cover costs.  Please split the actual cost among all people in the vehicle.

Additional advice: The cost of your trip is up to your driver. Your cost
should not be greater than what is listed above, unless there are extenuating circumstances. If you want to be sure about the cost of the trip, check with your driver before you get into the vehicle. If you are the driver of the vehicle, this is a guideline to what you charge and not a rule.

Cancellation/Partial Attendance:   Please review the AOC cancellation policy.

Cancellation/Partial Attendance:  Please review our Cancellation Policy carefully!