“A short paved trail up to the Look Rock Observation Tower
— David Hitchcock
Closed when the Foothills Parkway is closed due to snow or rock slides.
The trail is paved, but so short you won't get a lot out of your run.
The Look Rock Tower Trail departs from the parking lot on the Foothills Parkway and climbs to an observation tower that provides sweeping views of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park and the surrounding communities.
To get to the trail, take the Foothills Parkway roughly 11 miles from Walland to the highest point on the parkway, where a parking lot sits on the south side of the road. There is a small overlook at the far end of the parking lot that provides great views of the Great Smoky Mountains and the valleys that make up East TN.
Run to the upper end of the parking lot where you'll find a sign providing information on the Observation Tower and Air Quality Monitoring station that can be found on the ridge.
The trail crosses the road at a crosswalk and enters the woods on an asphalt trail that immediately begins climbing uphill. In the fall, the trail may be slippery as it is ofter covered in leaves, so be careful as you make your way uphill. Deer, turkeys, and squirrels can be seen and heard rustling around in the woods all around you. The trail climbs until it meets a service road, which provides access for the park service to the weather monitoring stations. Take a left at the junction and an air quality monitoring station will appear on your right.
Arriving at the observation tower, off to your left are views of the Great Smoky Mountains stretch out before you; off to the right, Maryville and Knoxville can be seen resting in the TN Valley. On a clear day, you can see all the way to the Cumberland Plateau. At night, gorgeous sunsets can be enjoyed here as well as peaceful evenings looking at the lights of the towns far below as well as the stars shining overhead. In the winter, the surrounding mountains can be seen through the trees as you approach the observation tower. Lower sections of the observation tower are open to the public. Climb three ramps to reach the observation platform where sweeping views of the area await. Even though the top of the tower is off limits to the public, the observation platform provides great views for everyone to enjoy.
To get back to your car, return via the path you traveled.
Squirrels, turkeys, and deer can be seen feeding in the early morning hours or at dusk. The trail winds through the woods, so a variety of deciduous trees, which makes this a great place to see colors in the fall.