Murphy NC can brag about one fine fire lookout station located here in Cherokee County. It is called the Panther Top Lookout Tower. Although it is not used as an active fire watch, it is used as a radio point for the Forest Service employees. It is normally gated off and cannot be accessed by vehicle, you can hike to it just about year around. They do open the road a couple times a year so you can check with the forest service with WKRK for availability. Even though it isn’t always open, it’s certainly a great Thing to Do when you’re here in Murphy NC.
The tower itself rises approximately 30′ in the air and was built in 1940. It has since been remodeled. It is situated on a summit that rises to 2,293 feet, so you get one amazing view. You can see all our pictures we took right here in this post. Amazing! Be sure to click the pictures to see larger images if you want. You can even see Lake Hiwassee in the distance.
To get to the fire tower, drive west on US 64 about 7 miles and turn right on Ranger Road. Drive 2.3 miles to a T and turn right on Panther Top Road. Continue 1.0 mi. until the pavement ends and the road forks. Take the right fork. And go toward the Panther Top Shooting Range. Zero your odometer and follow the gravel road 1.2 mi. to where FS 85 actually turns left and uphill and FS 85A continues straight. The junction can be missed easily if you are not watching for it. FS 85 is normally gated to the tower itself.