My hiking strategy of out-and-backs is totally inefficient but feel I get to see more and enjoy more time on the trail. Because I didn't do the sections in order, I can choose waterfalls and streams on hot days or during lots of rain, and views and ridgewalks on clear days. I hope this page inspires you to get out and explore this exceptionally scenic trail.
|Tall gaiters were essential in summer because the Bartram is overgrown in places.|
-NC Bartram Trail Society website: directions to trailheads, planning advice, the place to buy the excellent Interpretive Map of the NC Bartram Trail, and how to become a member.
-Trail data, mileages, and water notes on this website.
-Johnny Molloy's Long Trails of the Southeast: trail notes and detailed descriptions.
Skills for the NC Bartram Trail
I found the Bartram of NC more challenging than the Appalachian Trail of GA and NC. Here are several tips to help enjoy your trips:
-Manage your water. Calculate how much water to carry very carefully, and be able to hike extra to get water when water sources are dry. There is a difficult section over nine miles with no water.
-Plan ahead for campsites. Campsites are not nearly as frequent as on the AT, and you can't assume you can camp anywhere like on the AT since you need to avoiding camping on roadwalks (private land) or steep sections of trail.
-Be prepared for rugged trails and significant elevation changes, including steep inclines (compared to what you'd find on the AT in NC).
-Be prepared for roadwalking with cars, and walking on old roads that have been turned into trail, and walking in rural areas near houses.
Here are my North Carolina trips listed from south to north:
1. Rabun Bald, GA to Osage (July 2012, May 2013, Sept. 2013, Oct. 2013)
Parking: Osage Mountain Overlook on Hwy 106
Hiked: Hiked south 3.6 miles to Hale Ridge Road and the NC/GA boarder, then continued 4.2 miles on to Rabun Bald. Did this out and back for a total of 15.6 miles.
Highlights: Rhododendron in bloom, view from Rabun Bald.
2. Osage to "The Bus"(July 2012)
Parking: Osage Mountain Overlook and got shuttle to Jones Gap
Hike: From Jones Gap, hiked out and back to "The Bus" (11 miles round trip not including side trails), doing side trails to Little Fishhawk Mountain and Whiterock Mountain. Then continued 2.8 miles on to camp at Tessentee Creek (with water). Then, 4.4 miles over Scaly Mountain to Osage Mtn. Overlook trailhead. Total of 18.2 miles and one night.
Highlights: This was a gorgeous section especially the views from Whiterock Mountain and Scaly Mountain.
Also: Osage to Tessentee Camp (Jan. 2013), and to Whiterock Mountain (July 2013)
Parking: Osage Mtn. Overlook
Hike: From Osage, over Scaly Mountain, down to Tessentee Camp, camping slightly beyond. Then hiked an hour or so, out and back.
Highlights: moss and lichen, rocky seeps, winter views.
3. "The Bus" to Buckeye Creek (dayhike, 5.4 miles).
Parking: Buckeye Creek
Hiked: From Buckeye Creek, the trail gently ascends 1,200 feet in 2.7 miles past a few nice overlooks to "The Bus".
4. Wallace Branch to Harrison Gap (dayhike, 11.2 miles)
Parking: Wallace Branch
Hiked: From Wallace Branch, out and back to Harrison Gap.
Highlights: Views from William's Pulpit.
5. Sawmill Gap to Harrison Gap (overnight, 20 miles)
Parking: Sawmill Gap (nice paved parking on paved FS 711)
Hiked: 10 miles from Sawmill Gap to Harrison Gap and back
Camped: near Sawmill Gap
Highlights: ridgewalking and wildflowers from Sawmill to Wine Spring
6. Wine Spring Bald to Nantahala Lake (dayhike, 11.2 miles)
Parking: Nantahala Lake Trailhead (roadside parking off Wayah Road) (Note: next time I would park at Bateman's store, which seemed a little safer)
Hiked: From Nantahala Lake Trailhead, the trail climbs 2,000 feet up over Sawmill Gap to Wine Springs Bald. Did this out and back.
Highlights: Views and wildflowers
7. Nantahala Lake to Winding Stair (2 nights, 34.4 miles total)
Parking: Appletree Group Campground (outside the gates to the campground), also at Bateman's store one the way home (Note: I went into the store and they told me where to park up the hill which was very nice.)
Hiked: From Appletree, hiked past Piercy Creek over Rattlesnake Bald and camped a mile from Nantahala Gorge/ Duke Energy parking area. Then continued on to Winding Stair parking area where I turned around and headed back to Appletree. Then continued on to camp above the Dam, and the next morning returned back to my car at Appletree. Drove to Bateman's store and did a quick out and back to where I'd left off the previous night.
Highlights: Wildflowers near Piercy Creek, sunset over Nantahala Lake and awesome campsite above the Dam.
8. Winding Stair to Cheoah Bald (overnight, 10.2 miles)
Parking: Winding Stairs Bridge parking area
Hiked: 5.1 miles from Winding Stair to Cheoah Bald and back.
Camped: Cheoah Bald.
Water: Plentiful along Ledbetter Creek, and 0.9 miles from Cheoah Bald at FS 259.
Highlights: Waterfalls of Ledbetter Creek, rock formations in gorge, views from Cheoah Bald
Here are my Georgia trips on the Bartram Trail (Sections 1 and 2):
1. Rabun Bald to Osage (see NC section)
2. Wilson Gap to Rabun Bald (dayhike, 10 miles out and back)
Parking: 0.5 miles north of Wilson Gap
Hiked: From 0.5 miles north of Wilson Gap, hiked 5 miles to Rabun Bald and back.
Highlights: View from observation tower at Rabun Bald, 2nd highest peak in GA, plus hearing call of the ravens from the peak.
Also: Courthouse Gap to Rabun Bald (dayhike, 22 miles out and back)
Parking: Courthouse Gap Road
Hiked: From Courthouse Gap to Rabun Bald, and back.
Highlights: Scenic section from Wilson Gap to Rabun Bald.
3. Warwoman Dell to Wilson Gap (July 2012) and to Rabun Bald (Nov. 2013)
Parking: Warwoman Dell
Highlights: Martin Creek Falls, steep side trail to Pinnacle Knob.
NOTE: The section north of Warwoman Dell is one of my very favorites, probably the hike I have done more than any other trail. I've done countless overnights to Martin Creek Falls and beyond, led beginner backpacking trips here in 2011 and 2013, and enjoyed many dayhikes to Pinnacle Knob.
4. Warwoman Dell to Sandy Ford Road (dayhike in 2011, overnight in 2013, 18.6 miles out and back)
Parking: Warwoman Dell
Hiked: Out and back from Warwoman Dell to Sandy Ford Road and back, 9.3 miles each way, 18.6 miles total)
5. Sandy Ford to Hwy 28 bridge over the Chattooga River
Parking: Hwy 28 bridge
Hiked: Several times, as part of the Chattooga River Trail
Highlights: Dicks Creek Falls