Look Rock Observation Tower & Trail

Foothills Parkway, known for its sweeping scenic views, is also home to the kid-friendly Look Rock observation tower and hiking trail. The parkway and the trail are located at the foot of The Great Smoky Mountains in Blount County.

Stone stairs overlooking fall colored mountains at Look Rock Tower and Hiking Trail

Of course, each family has its own unique needs. You know your family best, and are ultimately responsible for discerning the safety and appropriateness this hike. Please read our full disclaimer here.

Look Rock Observation Tower and Hiking Trail

Sometimes the best finds are a little off the beaten path. This quiet and paved trail may not be as popular as some others, but only becasue it’s outside of the traditional tourist zone and not very well known.  Fortunately no matter the season, Foothills Parkway and Look Rock trail will not disappoint if you’re looking for an easy hike with spectacular beauty.

When you first arrive at the  parking lot, you will notice a stone overlook.  This lower overlook features magnificent mountain views and provides an excellent opportunity for landscape photos. To access the overlook, you do have to descend a short set of stairs.

Related Read: Grotto Falls Trail

To access the tower from the parking lot, walk to the back of the lot, away from the scenic overlook. You will pass a trail sign to confirm that you are going the right way. Shortly after passing the sign, you will cross the street to the trail head. There is a clearly marked crossing area.

The hike to access the tower is extremely short, compared to many other mountain trails. It only takes 1/2 hour to walk up and back, not counting the time you spend in the observation tower. Along the trail there are a couple large sitting rocks that make excellent spots for outdoor family photos.

The trail itself is perfect for families. Not only is the trail paved and well maintained, but it is wide enough that you can walk beside your child. Even better, neither side of the trail has a steep drop off. Although mostly uphill, the incline is very gradual. Due to the steady incline, I do not recommend using a stroller. A carrier will be a better choice for this trail.

Related Read: Schoolhouse Gap Trail

paved forested hiking trail in scenic woods at Look Rock Observation Tower

We felt comfortable enough to let the baby walk for while. Although, he did take a couple of spills. Please keep in mind, each family’s situation is unique. So, be sure to use your best judgment about whether or not this trail is appropriate for your kids.

Although the picturesque setting of the trail is satisfying on its own, it’s not the main event. The piece de resistance is the wonderful view from the tower.  While you do have to walk up 3 ramps to get to the top, the ramps are not very steep and we didn’t have to rest at all on the way up, unlike our hike to Clingman’s Dome.

Related Read: 15+ Nature Based Learning Activities

upward view of the concrete observation tower ramp

Once at the top the tower offers stunning 360º views. The left side of the tower features the sweeping ridges of The Great  Smoky Mountains, while the right side features expansive views of the Tennessee Valley. From this location, you can see all the way to Knoxville and beyond.

sweeping mountain view with fall colors
Photo of author
Written By
Erica Cardinal
Erica is a long-time resident of East TN and the founder of East TN Family Fun. She's also a sucker for a good adventure. Together with her hubs and kiddos, she spends her time exploring, homeschooling, and making memories.

2 thoughts on “Look Rock Observation Tower & Trail”

  1. Your detailed trail description, helpful tips, and stunning photos made me feel like I was experiencing the hike firsthand. Your dedication to providing valuable information to families seeking unforgettable experiences in the Smokies is truly commendable. Looking forward to reading more of your fantastic articles and potentially collaborating in the future.


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