Shuckstack Tower Trail

Fontana Dam, North Carolina 28733

Shuckstack Tower Trail

Shuckstack Tower Trail Professional Guide

Detailed Trail Description from our Guidebook

"Every good trail worth hiking a second time should have at least one “Wow!” moment when you stop dead in your tracks and say, “Wow!” The Shuckstack Tower Loop has several such moments.

The first comes on the 3.7-mile trek up to the tower along the Appalachian Trail, a climb that gains 2000 vertical feet. That’s not the “Wow!” The “Wow!” moment comes when you glance down the slope and notice that the absence of much understory allows for some great views inside the forest."

Shuckstack Tower Trail Trip Reports

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This is a great overnight loop. We parked at the Fontana Dam visitor center and felt very secure leaving our car there. We followed the trail counter-clockwise and hit the AT leg last. We hiked about 6 miles to the lower campsite the first day and really enjoyed the camp site...great open water access and nice sites.

The second half of the trail was much tougher...lots of tedious water crossings and a tough climb with lots of switch-backs. Go ahead and bite the bullet by taking off your shoes early. I wasted a lot of time trying to cross using fallen trees and rocks to avoid removing my shoes. Some of the crossings are too wide to avoid wet feet. I suggest bringing flipflops for that leg of the hike.

We added a few miles to the hike by following the AT to the first campsite and ate lunch there. The hike back to the dam was a ridgeline run and the descent was quite steep. Beautiful section of the trail.

The highlight of the trip was the view from Shuckstack Tower itself. You could see the dam and Fontana lake. I also liked posing with the old rusted cars where the highway used to be. Very cool.

This is a one-nighter or a very full day hike. Highly recommended.
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Shuckstack - Some of the best panoramic VIEWS in the autumn in the east. The trail is in good condition. Be fully prepared for a steady, continual uphill hike from Fontana Dam. Great day hike. Classic Fire Tower.

Shuckstack Tower Trail Photos

Trail Information

Fontana Dam
Nearby City
1,816 feet
Elevation Gain
Trail Type
Skill Level
5 to 7 hours
Best in Summer
Trails Illustrated Great Smoky Mountains National Park; USGS Fontana Dam, Cades Cove, Thunderhead Mountain
Local Maps

Trail Log