NH Fire Towers You Can Drive To


Here at NH Family Hikes, we love fire towers! In addition to the scenic views they provide by giving hikers a lift over the trees, they have played an extremely important role in our history and are fascinating to discover. Read all about their backstory on our Fire Tower History page. Of the thirty-one towers that remain standing today, all but four (one in a private hunting reserve, one on an island, and two that require backcountry navigational skills to locate) can be visited by the public by either hiking trail or auto road. Some of them just don't have hiking opportunities like others but can be visited by road. This page will serve to cover all of the fire towers in New Hampshire with access only by auto road. These towers are all easily accessible to those who are not prepared to make a lengthy or rough trek on foot to a mountaintop fire tower. They are all worth a visit if you are in the area, but some are more interesting than others.

Carter Tower, Jefferson

Carter Tower is one of New Hampshire's most unique fire towers; like the Mt. Prospect tower, it is a circular stone structure. It is one of our state's earliest fire towers, dating back to 1897, when it was privately operated by the Carter Family to watch over the railroads. Today, the Carter Tower remains standing on the side of Rt. 2 in Jefferson. Unfortunately, it is not open for public access, but it is worth stopping to see if you drive by. From the junction of Rt. 115 and Rt. 2, drive east on Rt. 2 for 0.8 miles. As the road begins to go downhill, the tower will be on your right. There is limited roadside parking. You can walk up onto the grassy knoll to see the tower up close. The door is locked and marked private property, but you can walk around the tower and look in the windows. You can see a nice view of the Northern Presidentials down the road. Click here for a Google Map.

Garrison Hill, Dover

Another very unique tower, Garrison Hill Tower is a round, green structure. The present tower is the third tower to occupy this location. The first was a wooden structure built in the 1880's as a public observatory and park. When it burned down in 1911, a steel tower was built in its place, and a new roadway to the top of the hill was developed. The second tower lasted until 1990, when it was taken down due to safety regulations. The present tower was built by a team of volunteers and the park is still fulfilling its original purpose. Whether or not the tower was ever used as a fire tower is a matter of debate. The park is located at the end of Abbey Sawyer Memorial Highway, which begins on the east side of Rt. 9, 0.9 miles north of the junction with NH State Rt. 4 in the center of Dover and 1.0 mile south of the four-way junction with Rt. 108 and Indian Brook Road. Look for a sign marking Garrison Hill Park at the entrance to this narrow road. Drive just 0.2 miles up the road and arrive at the parking area for the park, where you can follow a footpath to the tower. From the deck of the tower, you have an excellent view over the trees of the city of Dover. Click here for a Google map.

Milan Hill, Milan

The Milan Hill tower was built in 1932 to replace the old Jodrie Hill tower. It's one of the sixteen towers considered active today. The tower is the centerpiece of Milan Hill State Park, a popular place for camping and cross-country skiing, among other things. Click here to visit the state park website. The park is located right on Rt. 110B. The access road begins on the south side of it, 2.0 miles west of Rt. 16 and 2.6 miles southeast of Rt. 110A. Drive 0.4 miles into the access road and come to a three-way fork at the gatehouse, which may or may not be staffed depending on the time of your visit. Take either the left or the center forks (which form a loop road) a short distance to the large park around the fire tower. Although a low and insignificant hill, Milan Hill offers 360-degree vista of the north country. The magnificent view takes in Maine, the Nash Stream Forest, the distant Presidentials, and many other features. Click here for a Google map.

Mt. Prospect, Lancaster

Like the Carter Tower, the Mt. Prospect tower is a unique round stone structure. Another one of the state's 16 active towers, it is located within Weeks State Park. The tower was built in 1912 on the John W. Weeks Estate - John Weeks being the force behind the Weeks Act of 1911 which allowed the government to purchase lands for a national forest. The Weeks estate was donated to the state by Weeks's children in 1941, at which time his stone observation tower was commissioned for fire detection. The state park now keeps up the estate as a historic site and offers tours during operating hours. Click here to visit the state park website. The access road to the park is located on the east side of Rt. 3, at a height-of-land 5.9 miles north of Whitefield and 2.4 miles south of Lancaster. Check the state park website for hours; the road is gated when the park is not open. The access road climbs 1.6 miles past scenic viewpoint pull-offs to the summit of Mt. Prospect. The tower offers magnificent views of the Presidential Range and the Connecticut River Valley. Click here for a Google map.

Warner Hill, Derry

Built in 1939, Warner Hill is also on the state's list of 16 active fire towers. Unlike others on the list, Warner Hill Tower is not well advertised for public use and is seldom visited because there is no view over the trees from the deck below the tower cab. It's worth a stop if you're in the area and are interested in fire towers. If you visit in winter, you may be able to see a limited view through the trees. From the traffic circle in East Derry at the junction of Rt. 102 and Rt. 28B, travel east on East Derry Road for 1.5 miles (at 1.2 miles, the name changes to Hampstead Road). Turn right onto Warner Hill Road and continue 1.2 miles to a right bend in the road with Reubens Way on the left. Straight ahead, a paved path called Wardens Way leads 0.1 miles up to the fire tower. Look for the wooden sign for Warner Hill Fire Tower. You can drive up to the tower, but it is adviseable to park at the base of the road and walk up since it is narrow and steep. The fire tower is on the left in a clearing with a cell tower at the top of the road. Click here for a Google map.

A few more:

The Mt. Washington Hotel

One of New Hampshire's three operating grand hotels, the Mt. Washington Hotel, was once used as a fire lookout! The roof of the hotel was used as a temporary station sometime around 1903. The hotel is quite a majestic sight and can be seen from many nearby mountaintops. One of the best places to see it is from a scenic overlook on Rt. 302, directly opposite the resort entrance, 5.2 miles east of Rt. 3 in Twin Mountain. The viewpoint overlooks the hotel grounds, with the Presidential Range as a backdrop, including Mt. Washington itself and its cog railway. Click here for a Google map.

Pack Monadnock

Pack Monadnock is included in our regular library of hikes, where we describe a short loop hike (rated easy) to the tower. However, you can also visit it by car. It is located within Miller State Park, which offers auto access to the summit and fire tower for an entrance fee ($4 for adults and $2 for children). Click here to go to the State Park website. Click here to view the NH Family Hikes page for hiking Pack Monadnock.

Abenaki Tower

This one is in our library of hikes as "beginner" difficulty, and it's one of the easiest on our website. It's just a short walk down a flat dirt path from the parking area. The tower has fine views over the trees of Lake Winnipesaukee. Click here to go to the page.

Stratham Hill

This tower is in the same category as the Abenaki Tower. There is very little effort required to walk to the tower from the parking area. Click here to go to the page.

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