Yellow Mountain has an elevation of 5,127 feet making it one of the highest mountains in the Highlands Ranger District. On top of Yellow Mountain is the fire tower built by the Forest Service and the Civilian Conservation Corps in 1934. After age, weather and vandalism, the tower was reconstructed in the early 1990's through the joint effort of the Forest Service, local business and civic groups and volunteers. In 1992, the tower was recognized as a National Historic Lookout. Not only is the tower unique but the 360 degree view from the tower is one of the most spectacular in the District.
The trail from Cole Gap to the top of Yellow Mountain starts at an elevation of 4,300 feet and goes along a ridge of Cole Mountain, 4,600 feet. There is a short descent before Shortoff, 5,000 feet is climbed on a set of switchbacks. At 4,640 feet, Goat Knob is not as high as the surrounding mountains, but the descent to Yellow Mountain Gap, 4,120 feet and the final climb up to Yellow Mountain, 5,120 feet does make this a strenuous hike.
Shorter hikes can be made by terminating the hike at the view over the western cliffs of Cole Mountain or by continuing to the top of Shortoff.
Directions: From Highlands, NC, Travel east on US 64 2.7 miles and turn left onto Buck Creek Road. Continue 2.3 miles up to Cole Gap. There is a sign and steps at the trailhead on the right side of Buck Creek Road.
Elevation: 5,120 feet
Elevation Gain: 1,000 feet
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Nantahala National Forest, North Carolina
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