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Wesser Bald – Nantahala National Forest, NC

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Length Difficulty Streams Views Solitude Camping
13.3 mls N/A
Hiking Time:
Elev. Gain:
7 hours with 1 hour and 30 minutes of breaks
4,000 ft
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Park at the Nantahala Outdoor Center. 35.33217, -83.59204

By Trail Contributor: Zach Robbins (Contact Zach)

The lookout tower on Wesser Bald boasts some of the best views in North Carolina. You can hike to the tower three different ways, and the hike described here is the longest and toughest approach. You’ll begin the hike at the Nantahala Outdoor Center on U.S. 19/74 at the lower end of the Nantahala Gorge. The Appalachian Trail crosses the river and highway here, passing through the NOC which provides thru hikers with a fantastic resupply and food stop. The Appalachian Trail heads south, immediately climbing above the gorge on a consistent grade towards Paint Mountain. Just beyond the halfway point to Wesser Bald the trail follows a narrow ridge to The Jump Up. This viewpoint on the northwest side of Fork Mountain is a teaser for the views from Wesser Bald. Once you leave this outcrop the Appalachian Trail heads east, passing by the Wesser Bald Shelter before its final climb to Wesser Bald. The summit is home to a 30-foot lookout tower with an observation platform. The 360° views are phenomenal on a clear day as you can pick out many prominent peaks and ranges in the North Carolina Blue Ridge Mountains. Views include the Cheoah, Great Smoky, Plott Balsam, Alarka, Cowee, Great Balsam, Nantahala, Tusquitee, Valley River, Snowbird, and Unicoi mountain ranges. The round-trip distance is perfect for a full day hike, or a weekend backpacking trip with a stay around the Wesser Bald Shelter.

Alternate Hikes - Wesser Bald can also be accessed as a short 2.8 mile/767 ft gain hike starting at Tellico Gap on Otter Creek Rd, and as a difficult 8.6 mile/2,367 ft gain hike from the Wesser Creek Trailhead at the end of Wesser Creek Rd.

Mile  Summary and Highlights
1.1 - Rufus Morgan Shelter
4.3 - The Jump Up rock outcrops with good northern views
5.9 - Wesser Bald Shelter and T-junction with Wesser Creek Trail
6.7 - Wesser Bald summit (4,627 feet) and lookout tower
Mid December
Wesser Bald
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