When we visit Wayah Bald, it’s usually to test something. This time it was to test Pat’s “new” hip. She’s about five weeks out from her replacement surgery. This is the perfect place to walk because of the paved pathway and also to hike down along the Appalachian Trail (AT) for a short distance . . . just to test things out. 🙂 It’s also the perfect place to step away from a busy world and enjoy a few minutes of cooler temps and a quick adventure.
The fire tower is much shorter today than when it was built in 1937. Wayah Bald Fire Tower originally had a wooden interior stairway to the second floor. The observation level (second floor) was enclosed by 12 windows.
The third story housed fire-detecting equipment and served as the lookout, with 16 windows providing a 360-degree view of the Nantahala National Forest. It also contained living quarters for the watchmen, including two drop-down beds attached to the wall and a wood stove for cooking and heat.
These amenities allowed uninterrupted lookout service for up to two months at a time. Food, water and mail were delivered weekly by the men living at the nearby CCC camp. By the mid-1940s, cracks began to develop in the stone tower, allowing water in and damage to begin. Since there were other nearby lookouts, the fire detection service at Wayah Bald was stopped in 1945.
Two years later, the forest service removed the upper levels of the tower for safety reasons.
You don’t always have to do a “grueling hike” up a mountain for an amazing view. Wayah Bald is proof of this. It provides 360 views of the mountains surrounding it. The views are spectacular. We have been to Wayah so often that we now make a game out of guessing where certain mountains are located. We have hiked many of them, but there are even more to hike before I stop this thing called “peak bagging.”
Speaking of bagging peaks, Wessy is just getting started. She loved this hike, but it’s far from challenging to her. She likes the idea of hiking on to nearby Siler Bald along the AT better! I like that idea, too.
When she couldn’t dig the marker out of the stone, she decided to let me photograph her “tagging” the top with her paws. I love those hairy little paws!
The AT is a little overgrown here. It’s still beautiful—just thick with summer growth.
Pat found it to be just right to hike. The stones up and down are set at a perfect height so we hiked. I kept saying, “Do we need to turn around,” to which she would say: “Not yet!” I see a return to Wildcat mountain in the near future and then on to North Carolina!
This little girl wants to know if Wesser Bald Lookout Tower is in her future?! It can be accessed by a four-mile round-trip hike. I like Wesser and I have a feeling that Wessy will, too, but she may not get to go to the top of the tower! The stairs are narrow!