"Wayah" is a Cherokee word for "wolf" and this area had quite a large population of Red Wolves up until the mid 19th century when a bounty lead to their eradication. Built in 1937 by the Civilian Conservation Corps, the tower was originally used for fire detection and rose 60 feet above the summit. Over the years, water damaged the structure, and in 1947 the top two floors were removed; in 1983, a hemlock-beam and cedar-shake roof was added, and is still in this form today. Wayah Bald Lookout Tower is one of the best places for views in the Franklin NC area and I have been enjoying it for years now.
Wayah Bald is also a great place to go watch the snow fall... but you'll probably need four-wheel drive or All-wheel drive at the top. You will usually "drive out" of the snow-line when you drop in elevation.
We recommend this area because you can bring the entire family for easy access to the lookout tower, picnic area and fantastic views of the valley below. This area is also senior citizen-friendly with any easy paved path to the tower from parking. Bring you camera and binoculars for one of Macon County's most popular look-outs.
**New construction 2010 offering new pit toilets located just past the paved trail on your right**
From Franklin NC
From intersection of U.S. Hwy-64 W and U.S. Hwy-23/441 North in Franklin take Hwy-64 W towards Murphy, NC for 3.8 miles to "Old Murphy Rd.(SR 1448) on your right (see Wayah Bald Sign).
After you take the exit, continue down the hill for just under 0.2 miles to Wayah Road (SR 1310) on your left ("Loafers Glory" gas station will be at the intersection of Old Murphy Rd. and Wayah Rd, so you'll know where to turn).
Continue on Wayah Rd. for 9.1 miles where you'll find yourself at FR (Forest Road) #69 on the right, at Wayah Gap. Take this gravel road for another 4.4 miles to the Wayah Bald Area and Lookout Tower... (NOTE: Avoid the sign for "Winespring Bald" to the Left, 3.5 miles from the start of FR #69. This area, with no views, is a Government Radio & TV tower area where motor vehicles are prohibited).