Just above the Blue Ridge Parkway near Frying Pan Gap sits an old fire lookout tower. It is no longer used regularly to spot fires, but today it serves as a great 360-degree viewpoint for the Appalachians. The gap is supposedly named after a communal frying pan that was hung in a nearby tree. During the 18th and 19th century these high ridgelines were cleared for summer pasture, and herders would often camp out with their animals.
The Parkway now traverses the ridgeline and this gap, which is located at milepost 409.6, about a mile south of Mount Pisgah Campground and Pisgah Inn. An unmarked but obvious gravel pullout is the parking area. Be careful to not block the gate here because the gravel road is actively used to service signal towers up top. If you'll be staying at the inn or campground, you can hike from there to add some distance and beautiful mountaintop scenery.
The hike follows the narrow gravel road beyond the gate and leads through a diverse forest of wind-warped trees. It is not especially rough or steep, but follows a steady gradient for its three-quarters of a mile. You'll have a pretty good view once you reach the tower, but the real reward is to climb the steep metal stairs. The tower box is locked, but even from the stairs underneath it you can see in all directions. Points of interest include Mount Pisgah to the north, the Blue Ridge Parkway passing beneath to the east, Looking Glass Rock to the south, and the Smoky Mountains to the west. The northeast horizon is formed by the Black Mountains and Mount Mitchell--the highest point in the Eastern U.S.