Hiking trails of the Nantahala National Forest
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Cheoah Ranger District
Route 1, Box 16-A
Robbinsville, North Carolina 28771
Part of the Joyce Kilmer-Slickrock Wilderness
area. This easy figure-8 loop hiking trails are 1.25 and 2 miles long
which wind through the largest old-growth hardwoods in the east. A
living monument to Joyce Kilmer the soldier and poet who was killed
in action in World War I at the age of 31. A memorial plaque, near
the center of the grove of huge trees, remembers . Kilmer's most famous
poem is "Trees". A small
picnic area and restroom are available near the trailhead parking
This area around Snowbird Creek contains a
network of over 37 miles of trails ranging from 1.1 miles to 12.7
miles in length, and from "easy" to "most difficult"
in skill level. Big Snowbird watershed belonged to a lumber company
in the 1920's and '30's, and a narrow guage railroad extended up Snowbird
Creek. Like many places in the national forest, this land was acquired
bu the Federal government only after 100 million board feet of timber
was removed. Today, with time and careful management, the forest has
regrown and the creek, once muddied with silt, runs clear and sparkling
again. Big Falls and Middle
Falls, 4 and 5 miles up the trail, make good destinations for
day hikes. Big Snowbird Trail (#64) crosses the stream seven times;
during heavy rainstorms these crossings may become impassable. An
alternative trail, 64-A, requires only one stream crossing to reach
1.1 miles to 12.7 miles--Open to hikers only.
From the district office, turn left on to NC 116 and go 2.4 miles
to a stop sign. Turn right onto NC 1127, go 2 miles, and bear left
at the fork-in-the-road onto SR 115. Go 2.1 miles to where NC 1115
turns sharply left (just past Robinson's Grocery). Make the turn and
go 1 mile to a pair of bridges. At the end of the second bridge, turn
right on NC 1120; it becomes FR 75 (gravel). Follow the gravel road
about 6 miles to the end. The trailheads are at a former logging camp.
The Tsali trail system of four loops winds
through mixed hardwood forest on a peninsula that stretches into Fontana
Lake. The loops range from 6.5 miles to 11.9 miles. These trails rated
as "most difficult", are especially popular to mountain
bikers. While hikers may travel the trails on any day, the bikers
and equestrians are kept seperated by alternating use of the trails.
A schedule is posted at the trailheads. Nearby facilities include
a bike washing station, a developed campground with showers and flush
toilets, a boat ramp, and picnic tables.
Fom Bryson City, take US 19 S. 9 miles, turn right on NC 28 for 5.5
miles. Turn right at the sign for Tsali Recreation Area on FR 521
(gravel) for 1.5 Miles.
Highlands Ranger District
2010 Flat Mountain Road
Highlands, NC 28741
(Follow the signs from U.S. 64 east of Highlands)
Whiteside Mtn. Recreational
This national recreation trail is rated "more
difficult". From the trailhead, the old roadbed to the left is
a more gradual climb to the summit, while the right branch goes up
a steep set of stairs. Your effort is rewarded by a magnificent view
into South Carolina and over the Chatooga River headwaters over 2100
feet below. the rock outcrops have an abundance of shrubs and wildflowers,
including three species of both rhododendron and azaleas. the mountain
summit stands at 4,930 feet. Whiteside Mountain, a landmark on the
eastern continental divide, has sheer cliffs rising up to 750 feet
in height. these cliffs are home to the endangered peregrine falcon
that was reintroduced back to it's native range beginning in 1985.
2-mile loop--open to hikers only.
From Highlands, take U.S.64-E about 5 miles.Turn right on SR 1680
(Whiteside Mtn. Rd.) and follow the signs to the trailhead.
Tusquitee Ranger District,
201 Woodland Drive,
Murphy, NC 28906.
Phone (704) 837-5152.
As the name implies, this trail follows a
high, elongated rim around Fire's
creek. It features scenic views, heath and grassy balds, and
a mixed hardwood forest with rhododendron and wildflowers. The trail
is blazed in blue, but signs and blazes are sparse. Several side
trails provide opportunities for exploration or alternate access
points. Most people begin the trail at the Fire's Creek Picnic Area
on the Trail to Leatherwood
Falls. For a short walk, the 0.7-mile loop trail turns left
and returns to the parking lot; the Rim Trail bends right and climbs
to the ridge. Water is infrequent along the trail, so be sure to
carry an adequate supply.
USGS quads: Andrews, Hayesville, Topton.
Complete loop; 25 miles -Open to horses and
From HAYESVILLE, go 5 miles on U.S.64-W. Turn right on SR 1302 for
3.7 miles and left on Fires Creek Rd.(SR 1344).
Wayah Ranger District
90 Sloan Road
Franklin, NC 28734
(Turn at sign on U.S. 64, west of Franklin)
Hikers only. This 2.2-mile most-difficult trail
climbs 1,640 feet in elevation and connects with four other area trails
(Junaluska Trail, Valley Trail, London Bald Trail, Laurel Creek Trail).
With two stream crossings, the trail meanders through an array of
From Franklin, take U.S. 64 west for about 3 miles. Turn right at
LBJ/Wayah signs and take first left beside Loafer’s Glory Store
onto Wayah Road (SR 1310), which goes over Wayah Gap and past Nantahala
Lake. After passing Lake’s End Store, take first left onto Junaluska
Road (SR 1401), toward Andrews for about 2.5 miles to Appletree Group
Campground. To access, park or walk across the road from Appletree
Branch and follow the blue blazes to the right of the branch.
Hikers only. A length of 9 miles
one-way, this trail climbs and contours a side slope at a high elevation
and travels through a fern-covered forest floor. This most-difficult
trail connects with the Appletree Trail and Bartram Trail.
From Franklin, take U.S. 64 west for about 3 miles. Turn right at LBJ/Wayah
signs and take first left beside Loafer’s Glory Store onto Wayah
Road (SR 1310), which goes over Wayah Gap and past Nantahala Lake. After
passing Lake’s End Store, take first left onto Junaluska Road
(SR 1401), toward Andrews for about 2.5 miles to Appletree Group Campground.
Accessed by the Appletree campground or by Junaluska Road (SR 1401).
The Standing Indian basin is a horseshoe-shaped
drainage formed by the Nantahala and Blue Ridge Mountains with several
peaks over 5,000 feet high. A network of trails leads to waterfalls
and mountain peaks. Pickens Nose Trail (0.7 mile ) climbs through
mature oak forest to a promontory on Brushy Ridge. Waslik Poplar Trail
(0.6 mile) leads to the Nation's second largest yelow-poplar tree.
Trail (AT) crosses the mountain peaks for 32 miles through this
area, and the trail passes in and out of the Southern Nantahala
Wilderness. You can use the AT to complete trail loops. Over 16
miles of orange-blazed trail are open to horses. The trailhead is
signed to show the designated users. Primitive camping for horses
is available at Hurricane Creek beyond Standing
Indian Campground, a developed campground with showers, flush
toilets and picnicking.
0.1 mile to 32 miles--some trails open to horses.
From Franklin, take US 64W for 9 miles. Turn left on old 64 for 2
miles. Turn right on FR 67 (gravel) toward Standing Indian Campground.
There are several trailheads.
Contact the Ranger District in each area or
U.S. Forest Service,
160A Zillicoa Street,
Asheville, NC 28802.
You can also call the information desk Monday through Friday 8:00
am to 4:30 pm at 828-257-4200.