Panther Top Lookout Tower

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Panther Top Lookout Tower
Panther Top Lookout Tower
Tower Attributes
Year Built 1940[1]
Year Removed N/A
Height 30'[1]
County Cherokee
Elevation 2,293[1] Feet
Latitude 35.06555
Longitude -84.09972
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Panther Top Lookout Tower, built in 1940, this tower is the farthest western tower in North Carolina. It is only 30 feet in height and built upon a lower elevation (2293') than Moores Knob. Still, despite its modest attributes, it is listed on the national and state historic register of towers of significant historical value. The tower is beautifully maintained, and climbable with 360 degree views. The cabin and observation deck are usually locked, but each fall, the forest service opens the cabin to the public on pre-selected dates.

[Citation Needed]


Accessing the Tower

From Statesville:

  • Take I-40 to Exit 27 (125 miles)
  • Take Hwy 74 to Hwy 294 (97.8 miles)
  • Take Hwy 294 to SR 1303 (0.9 miles)
  • Take SR 1303 to turn right to keep SR 1303 (2.1 miles)
Hike from here?
  • (Drive or Hike) SR 1303 0.7 miles becomes FSR 85
  • (Drive or Hike) FSR 85 0.7 miles to Tower
SR 1303 may be signed Panther Top Rd


Limited parking is available along forest service road 85. At 35.063321, -84.107809, forest service road 85 continues left, and continuing straight becomes forest service road 85A. At this intersection, forest service road 85 is gated and rangers ask that visitors park so as to not block the gate. Telecommunications workers need to be able to access the road when needed. Two or three vehicles can comfortably park along the narrow shoulder of the road without impeding traffic.


File:Panther-top-85 (short).gpx, Hike FSR 85 to summit from FSR 85A junction and return; 1.5 miles round-trip
File:Panther-top-85.gpx, Hike Hike FSR 85 to summit from SR 1303 (Panther Top Road); 3.9 miles round-trip

Structure Condition

View from the Tower

  • Northwest: John Ish Hightop (cluster of three humps)

Historical Photo


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