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Cheoah Bald – Nantahala National Forest, NC

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Length Difficulty Streams Views Solitude Camping
9.9 mls
Hiking Time:
Elev. Gain:
5 hours and 30 minutes with 1 hour of breaks
3,460 ft
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Park at the small picnic area. 35.28258, -83.67420

By Trail Contributor: Zach Robbins (Contact Zach)

Cheoah Bald, nicknamed the “Grandstand of the Atlantic,” is the tallest peak in the Cheoah Mountains of southwestern North Carolina. This range abruptly rises nearly 3,000 feet above the Nantahala River Gorge. Although Cheoah Bald is only 5,062 feet in elevation, the peak is isolated and difficult to reach. There are three routes to the summit, and the hike described here is the shortest but arguably the toughest. The climb out of Nantahala Gorge is unrelenting for miles as the Bartram Trail first climbs above Ledbetter Creek then follows it upstream crossing the creek numerous times. You’ll pass by Bartram Falls and continue following the creek before a steep climb to Bellcollar Gap. The Bartram Trail terminates at Cheoah Bald, a wonderful peak with one of the best campsites in the region. This campsite lies at the edge of a vast grassy bald with panoramic southern views. The Appalachian Trail also crisscrosses the summit, providing shuttle hike possibilities from Stecoah Gap or the Nantahala Outdoor Center.

Mile  Summary and Highlights
0.1 - Follow the Bartram Trail crossing bridge over Ledbetter Creek
1.7 - First of many Ledbetter Creek crossings
2.8 - Bartram Falls
4.2 - Junction with FR 295A
4.8 - Turn right onto Appalachian Trail above Bellcollar Gap
5.0 - Cheoah Bald summit (5,062 feet) with 180° views

Parking Alternative – The picnic area along the highway is not easy to spot, and the small parking area may be full. You can also park on FR 422 which is crossed by the Bartram Trail. The road is located 0.25-mile northeast of the picnic area.

Late April
Cheoah Bald
Cheoah Bald Hike Comments
Archived Comments

By: Bob Finck Rating: Date of Hike: Friday, October 27, 2017
My brother John and I hiked this trail today and loved it. It is certainly not an easy hike with a very tough incline the first mile and another tough incline to the summit. However, the hiking along the river, Bartram falls and the water crossings are spectacular. The directions and distances on this site were very accurate. The view from the top is fantastic and the grassy opening is a great place to lay in the sun and have lunch before heading back down. Our hike started at 8 am and ended at 2 pm with approx. 1 hour of breaks in between (2 15 minute breaks on the way up and back down and a half hour at the summit). The conditions were cool and sunny for us with a start of 43 degrees and end of 62 degrees. Very nice! The sun did not shine on the trail until about noon so be sure to bring layers if hiking in the cooler months!

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