Hikes: North Carolina

Hike Name Wayah Bald
Closest Town Franklin, NC
Difficulty Level** Very Easy
Elevation Gain  50’
Distance 0.3 miles
Features Views, historic rock, fire look out tower.
Description Wayah Bald Lookout Tower.  This national historic landmark offers panoramic views of many mountain ranges and two valleys. From the tower, one can see the main ridge of the Smoky Mountains to the North, the Balsams and the Cowees to the East, and the Tusquittee and Slickrock ranges to the West.
Directions From Franklin, drive four miles West on US 64 and turn right at Wayah Bald direction sign. Take first left onto Wayah Road (state road 1310).  Stay on state road 1310 past FS388, up winding road to top of hill (Wayah Gap).  Turn right on gravel road (FS 69) to Wayah Bald. Go about 4.5 mi. to parking area near end of road just around 180 degree turn. Walk back to the turn, take paved path past latrines up to lookout tower.  


Hike Name Round Bald and Jane Bald
Closest Town Roan Mountain, TN or Bakersville, NC
Difficulty Level** Moderate
Distance 2.6 miles round trip
Features  Graded path through spruce-fir forest and ridge crest pastures; rock outcrops.
Description From the parking area at Carvers Gap follow gravel, white blazed A.T. north (east) through log fence and ascend graded trail through balds, then to left through spruce-fir forest.  Re-emerge on grassy bald and continue to summit of Round Bald at .7 mile.  Go downhill .3 mile to Engine Gap, then ascend .3 mile to rock formation with good views, crossing 740 million year old black rock dikes which intrude into 1.1 billion year old gneiss, the oldest rocks on the whole A.T.   Retrace your steps to return.
Directions The parking area at Carvers Gap is on the Tennessee-North Carolina border, 14 miles south of Roan Mountain, Tennessee, on Tennessee 143, or 14 miles north or Bakersville, NC on North Carolina 261


Hike Name Max Patch Bald
Closest Town Hot Springs, NC
Difficulty Level** Moderate
Distance 1.6 miles round trip
Features Panoramic views of mountains, Mt. Mitchell  to the east, the Smokies to the west.
Description From the intersection of the A.T. and NC SR 1182, hike north on the A.T. passing through a stile in the fence along the road.  Enter the woods and descend 0.1 miles to a small creek.  Begin to ascend and cross a gravel road at 0.25 miles. The trail climbs Max Patch on log steps carved into the hillside and then crosses the grass to the broad summit of the mountain.
Directions Take exit 7 on Interstate 40 and head east on gravel  Cold Spring Road, USFS 148, for six miles, then left (north) on NC SR 1182 to intersection with A.T.; parking on left. (1/2 mile beyond, at ridge crest is FS parking area at base of Max Patch for alternate hike routes – map is on bulletin board.)


Hike Name Little Rock Knob
Closest Town Roan Mountain, TN or Buladean, NC
Difficulty Level** Moderate to Strenuous
Elevation Gain 900’
Distance 4.6 miles round tip
Features Great views, hike through beautiful cove hardwood forest.
Description The hike starts on the same side of the gap as the small dirt parking area.  Follow the white paint blazes of the A.T. compass north (though you are actually hiking toward Georgia) as it gradually ascends up to a highpoint on the ridge in 0.25 mile.  At mile 0.4, cross a second highpoint on the ridge and descend to a gap.  The Trail climbs steadily to the highpoint of Little Rock Knob (4918’) at 2.2 miles, and at 2.3 miles reach excellent views into Tennessee from overlooks at tops of cliffs.  Look north to view White Rocks Mountain, ove which the A.T. passes.  Retrace your steps to return.
Directions From the town of Roan Mountain, Tennessee, take Tennessee 143 through Roan Mountain State Park to Burbank. Turn right on Hughes Gap Road and go 3 miles to ridge crest intersection with A.T.  Small dirt parking area on right at ridge crest.   From the North Carolina side, Hughes Gap Road turns off of North Carolina 226 in the small town of Buladean.  From here, it is 4 miles to the parking at the ridge crest on the left.


Hike Name Lovers Leap
Closest Town Hot Springs, NC
Difficulty Level** Moderate (short but steep)
Elevation Gain  400’
Distance 2.6 miles round trip
Features Great views
Description From the Hot Springs Visitor Center (across the street from the post office), hike north (east( on the A.T. and follow the white paint blazes and A.T. diamonds along the sidewalk.  Cross Spring Creek on a small bridge and at mile 0.25 cross the French Broad River on the US 25/70 bridge.  Turn right down the east bridge abutment to the Silver Mine Creek Road and follow it upstream, then across driveway bridge and through the Nantahala Outdoor Center; the Trail is parallel to the river on its sandy east bank.  At mile 0.9. begin climbing up to Lovers Leap on switchbacks.  Reach an overlook in 0.25 miles, and then continue another 0.25 mile to Lovers Leap Rock at the junction with the Silver Mine Trail. To return, backtrack on the A.T. to the Hot Springs Visitors’ Center.
Directions The trailhead is at the Hot Springs Visitor Center on US 25/70 in Hot Springs, North Carolina.  Inquire at the VC before leaving your car; parking is also available on the street.