2 Free Issues and 3 Free Gifts!
Full Name:
Address 1:
Address 2:
Zip Code:
Email: (required)
If I like it and decide to continue, I'll pay just $12.00, and receive a full one-year subscription (9 issues in all), a 73% savings off the newsstand price! If for any reason I decide not to continue, I'll write "cancel" on the invoice and owe nothing.
Your subscription includes 3 FREE downloadable booklets.
Or click here to pay now and get 2 extra issues
Offer valid in US only.

Also on

Enter Zip Code

Backpacker Magazine – Online Exclusive

North Carolina's Southern Nantahala Wilderness Area

A rugged land of sweet-smelling wildflowers, bald mountains, and stone Indians.

by: Mark DuCharme

PAGE 1 2

Contact Information:

U.S. Forest Service Supervisor's Office 100 Otis St. Asheville, NC 28802 704/257-4200

Location: The Southern Nantahala Wilderness Area is in southwestern North Carolina, about 75 miles from Asheville. Near the north side of the wilderness is the town of Franklin; near the south side is Clayton, Georgia.

Getting There: Take U.S. 64 to Old U.S. 64 and follow the signs to Standing Indian Campground.

Seasonal Information: At these elevations, summer nights tend to be cool (in the 50s). Winter temperatures can dip down to the teens at night.

Wildlife: There are bear, turkey, deer, and some smaller creatures, but since they are legally hunted in the region they tend to stay away from humans.

Insects: Contact park office for information.

Plant Life: Thanks to its longtime status as a wilderness area, the forest is mature, often dense, and varies from fir to mixed hardwood. In spring and early summer the area becomes a wonderland of flowering rhododendrons, mountain laurels, dogwoods, and azaleas. Stop amid dense thickets of mountain laurel and rhododendron, and admire the delicate, sweet-smelling, white and pink blooms.

If you can manage a trip anytime between April and the first frost you'll be rewarded with an everchanging and abundant mix of blooming wildflowers, including trilliums, trout lilies, bluets, and violets.

Facilities: Camping is primitive in the wilderness. Unless otherwise designated, primitive camping is allowed in the forest.

Outside the wilderness, Standing Indian Campground is a large and developed seasonal site for $8 per night. It accommodates trailers and offers toilets, showers, drinking water, and even an amphitheater. Groups will need reservations.

There are also three shelters located along the AT.

Parking: Contact park office for information.

Permits: No permits are required.


  • Groups are limited to 10 people.
  • Motor vehicles and bicycles are prohibited in the wilderness.


  • Thunderstorms can be a serious threat.
  • There is a two-week deer hunting season around Thanksgiving, so check with forest officials for safety guidelines during that time.

Leave No Trace: Visitors are encouraged not to use fire.

All LNT guidelines apply.

Maps: Maps are available from: Wayah Ranger District Route 10, Box 210 Franklin, NC 28734 704/524-4410.

Ask for the Southern Nantahala Wilderness-Standing Indian Basin map.

The Appalachian Trail Conference guidebook 10 (North Carolina/Georgia) provides descriptions, too. Contact: A.T.C. Box 807 Harpers Ferry, WV 25425 304/535-6331.

Other Trip Options:

  • The Nantahala National Forest proper offers 526,798 acres with 700 miles of trails for hiking, mountain biking, and horseback riding. There are also a number of lakes for waterskiing, two other wilderness areas for exploring, and the Nantahala River for whitewater boating.
  • The Chattahochee National Forest (770/536-0541) is just to the south in Georgia.

PAGE 1 2

Subscribe to Backpacker magazine
Sign up for our free weekly e-newsletter
Address 1:
Address 2:
Email (req):

Reader Rating: -


Your rating:
Your Name:


My Profile Join Now

Most recent threads

Trailhead Register
Falling in the backcountry
Posted On: Aug 20, 2014
Submitted By: Grizzly James
The Political Arena
How ISIS got rich
Posted On: Aug 20, 2014
Submitted By: Ben2World
View all Gear
Find a retailer

Special sections - Expert handbooks for key trails, techniques and gear

Check out Montana in Warren Miller's Ticket to Ride
Warren Miller athletes charge hard and reflect on Big Sky country, their love for this space and the immense energy allotted to the people who reside in Montana.

Boost Your Apps
Add powerful tools and exclusive maps to your BACKPACKER apps through our partnership with Trimble Outdoors.

Carry the Best Maps
With BACKPACKER PRO Maps, get life-list destinations and local trips on adventure-ready waterproof myTopo paper.

FREE Rocky Mountain Trip Planner
Sign up for a free Rocky Mountain National Park trip planning kit from our sister site

Follow BackpackerMag on Twitter Follow Backpacker on Facebook
Get 2 FREE Trial Issues and 3 FREE GIFTS
Survival Skills 101 • Eat Better
The Best Trails in America
YES! Please send me my FREE trial issues of Backpacker
and my 3 FREE downloadable booklets.
Full Name:
Address 1:
Zip Code:
Address 2:
Email (required):
Free trial offer valid for US subscribers only. Canadian subscriptions | International subscriptions