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.
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.
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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.
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We felt comfortable enough to let the baby walk for while. Although, he did take a couple spills. Please keep in mind, each family’s situation is unique. So, be sure to use your best judgement 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.
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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.
Don’t forget to check out our other Smoky Mountain Adventures!
(You know your limitations and the limitations of your children and family best. Although this trail was appropriate for my family, it may not be appropriate for you or your family. Please use your best judgement in deciding whether or not to hike this trail. Neither Mom Explores The Smokies nor the blog owner are responsible for any damage, mishaps or injuries (physical, mental or otherwise) that may occur while you and/or your family/children are on this trail or anywhere in the Smoky Mountains. When in doubt, opt out of this trail.)