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Wayah Bald – Nantahala National Forest, NC

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Length Difficulty Streams Views Solitude Camping
9.1 mls N/A
Hiking Time:
Elev. Gain:
4 hours and 15 minutes with 45 minutes of breaks
2.025 ft
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Park at the Wayah Crest Picnic Area. 35.15318, -83.58098

By Trail Contributor: Zach Robbins (Contact Zach)

The stone lookout tower on Wayah Bald provides outstanding views south of the biggest mountains in Nantahala National Forest. Although you can drive to the summit, the hike described here is a wonderful way to tackle the peak on foot. You’ll start at a relatively high elevation and never experience a steep grade, making this 9.1-mile hike easier than the length suggests.

From Wayah Gap the Appalachian Trail passes through beautiful hardwood forests as it ascends Trimont Ridge. As you wind around Wine Spring Bald, the second tallest peak in the Nantahala Mountains, you’ll pass by a beautiful series of campsites above 5,000 feet with the reliable Wine Spring as the water source. The Appalachian and Bartram Trails lead directly to the tower on Wayah Bald at 5,342 feet. The quaint, stone lookout tower on Wayah Bald was completed in 1937. In November 2016, a forest fire ravaged the south slope of the mountain and incinerated the wooden top cab of the tower. You can still enjoy views from the tower, where you can see the Cheoah and Great Smoky Mountains to the north above the trees. The highlight is the panoramic southern view which stretches from Franklin and the Little Tennessee River Valley southeast, the Southern Nantahala Wilderness due south, and Siler Bald and Boteler Peak southwest.

Mile  Summary and Highlights
1.0 - T-junction with the Shot Pouch Trail/FR 69A
1.4 - T-junction with the Wilson Lick Trail
1.9 - Appalachian Trail crosses FR 69
2.4 - Excellent campsites and spring around Bartram Trail junction
4.2 - Wayah Bald summit (5,342 feet) and stone lookout tower
6.2 - Optional side trip ending at Wine Spring Bald summit (5,451 feet)
Late April
Wayah Bald
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