Olson Observation Tower is one of the few remaining fire towers in Monongahela National Forest. Olson is located at the southern end of Backbone Mountain northeast of Parsons in Tucker County, West Virginia.
The southern end of Backbone Mountain is the site of West Virginia's first fire tower, originally built by the state in 1922. This tower was later given to Monongahela National Forest, which replaced it in 1963 with the current tower.
The current tower is constructed of steel and features 133 steps leading to a cab on top. While the cab is not open to the public, the entire walkway up to the top is accessible. The tower provides 360-degree views of the surrounding area including the Cheat River watershed, Parsons, Blackwater Canyon, Canaan Mountain, Backbone Mountain and the Otter Creek Wilderness.
Olson Tower is named after Ernst B. Olson in recognition of 28 years of fire control and conservation program service to Monongahela National Forest.
So this is not for the faint of heart. You are a couple hundred feet in the air and in an old fire tower. The views are breathtaking, but you are standing in a very old fire tower. The trap door is heavy and hard to push up. This is very much AT YOUR OWN RISK!
Old and rustic but safe to climb, this fire tower gives panoramic views of mountains and natural, unspoiled forest for as far as the eye can see. The landscape is beautiful.
such a COOL place! the view is absolutely incredible! if you’re scared of heights- it may be best to skip out on this one because it is VERY high. def worth it for the view though! update: went again in the fall and WOW 😍 it is such an amazing view.
Very steep and only attempt if you have no fear of heights but is worth it for the view
This is a review of the Allegheny Trail from near this tower to the Blackwater Canyon. There's a small parking spot at the trailhead just before you reach the Tower. From there it's a 2.4 mile hike to a natural stone bridge over an unnamed creek that flows down into Big Run. There you can turn around or keep going to Fire Road 18 and the rest of the Allegheny Trail; we turned around and hiked back up. Total elevation change is about 500 feet, most of it down into the valley and then back up again. Expect muddy paths after rain, of course; at the stone outcrops that tower over the path about 2 miles in, look for the hawks that nest and perch there.
Fun stop if you're in the area. The views are stunning but can be a challenge for those afraid of heights. The cabin at the top was open when we went and you can even climb the small ladder that goes on top of the cabin to the very top. The views are hard to beat for sure.
If you love fire towers, this is one for you. With an elevation of 3736 ft above sea level, you can get really high. Not sure how tall the tower itself is, though.
Loved the view, but hate heights. Climbed it anyway. Someone had broken the lock on the room on top. Some broken windows. I advise to only go in a small group, and watch for other people though none were there when we went.