This hike to Mt. Cammerer begins from the Low Gap Trailhead in the Cosby Campground. Although it's a roundtrip hike of 12 miles, it's still the shortest and most commonly used route to the 4928-foot summit.
From the trailhead you'll climb Low Gap Trail for 3 miles before hooking-up with the Appalachian Trail. This is a steep and relentless climb, over several switchbacks, that takes hikers through a beautiful and mature hardwood forest as they proceed up the Cosby Creek valley.
Upon reaching the junction, turn left onto the Appalachian Trail to continue hiking towards the Mount Cammerer Trail. Along the early sections of the Appalachian Trail you'll continue climbing, however, the elevation gain isn't quite as steep as the Low Gap Trail. Hikers will cross over a grassy ridge that offers views of the Cosby Valley, Snake Den Ridge and Inadu Knob, as well as several fine places to take a break before turning onto the rugged spur trail that leads to the summit of Mt. Cammerer. This spur is slightly more than half-mile long, and is fairly level, but does involve some rock scrambling as you follow the narrow ridge out to the fire tower. Take your time and watch your step.
At 4928 feet in elevation, the summit of Mt. Cammerer sits on the edge of a rocky outcropping overlooking the Pigeon River Gorge. On a clear day the views are simply awesome; some even say the best in the Park. For an even better vantage point, step up to the deck of the stone fire tower. This "western" style tower, which was fully restored in 1995, provides hikers with excellent 360 degree views. Look in any direction and see row upon row of mountains. The mountain directly across the gorge, with the white aviation tower at the top, is 4263-foot Snowbird Mountain. Below you and outside of the park is the water tower for the hydro-electric plant in the Big Creek area. To the south is Mt. Sterling with another interesting fire tower on its peak. And of course, towards the west, is the seemingly endless expanse of mountains we call the Smokies.
The octagonal fire tower at the summit was built by local laborers and the Civilian Conservation Corp in the late 1930s using hand-cut stone. Men working on the tower drilled and blocked the stone right out of the mountainside from a quarry just 100 yards downhill from the tower. Some of these stones weighed as much as 600 pounds.