Olson Observation Tower

Area Status: Open
This area is Open

View from Olson Tower

Originally built in 1922 by the state, Backbone Mountain was the site of the first fire tower in the State of WV. It was later transferred to the Monongahela National Forest and was used until 1963 when it was replaced and named Olson Tower.

Olson Tower sits on the mountain top. Climb the 133 steps for breathtaking views. Although the cabin is closed to the public, you are welcome to climb to just below the cabin structure. Breathtaking views of the town of Parsons, Blackwater Canyon, Otter Creek Wilderness, Canaan Mountain, and the Cheat River watershed can all be seen from the tower heights.

Olson Tower is located on Backbone Mountain in Tucker County. The elevation is approximately 3736 feet above sea level. It is accessible most of the year by a dirt road. There are several trails in the area, including; Canyon Rim Trail # 117 Is 3 miles in length and begins 0.1 miles below the picnic area and Limerock Trail # 142 Is 4.1 miles in length and located along FR 18.


At a Glance

Operational Hours: Daylight hours, only during open season. 
Open Season: Mid-April - December
Closest Towns: Parsons, WV
Operated By: Forest Service
Information Center: Cheat Ranger District

General Information


From Parsons travel approximately 7 miles north (east) on 219N. Turn right on Forest Road 18. Travel 0.4 miles and stay to the right at the Y intersection. This is FR 717. Continue on FR 717 1.6 miles to the parking lot below the tower.

General Notes:

Recreation Map

Map showing recreational areas. Map Information


Nature Viewing

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