Located atop Buffalo Mountain at 3,520 feet above sea level, Pinnacle Mountain Fire Tower has served as sentinel for forested lands in Unicoi and Washington counties for the past 75 years.
The tower stands sentry over “The Valley Beautiful,” conspicuous along a ten-mile stretch of Interstate 26 between Erwin and Johnson City, and visible from various locations in Johnson City, Limestone Cove, Unicoi and from TN 81 near the Nolichucky River. The fire tower is one of only four remaining in Cherokee National Forest.
In 2011 Pinnacle Fire Tower was adapted from a wood and metal structure to an all-metal covered viewing platform. The structure utilized the 40-foot tower structure and replaced the cab with a covered platform the same size, shape and configuration as the old catwalk and cab.
The platform offers views of the region’s highest peaks, including Unaka Mountain and Roan Mountain, as well as views into the towns of Johnson City, Unicoi and Erwin.
The 4.9 hike/bike Pinnacle Mountain Trail serves as a destination trail to the rehabilitated fire tower. The trailhead, at the foot of Buffalo Mountain, provides convenient trail access from Interstate 26, Exit 32 in the Town of Unicoi. From this trailhead vantage point, Pinnacle Mountain Trail #25 winds its way up the mountain at grades the whole family can enjoy. As a result, the trail has quickly become one of Unicoi County's most popular.
Take Interstate 26 to Exit 32 at the Town of Unicoi. The trailhead is visible to the west side of the interstate.