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 – May 2012

Rip & Go: Bartram Trail - Nantahala National Forest, NC

Climb past a glimmering highland lake to a lofty southern bald.

by: Peter Rives

PAGE 1 2
(Photo by: Peter Rives)
(Photo by: Peter Rives)

Cameras, GPS, & Gadgets
Electronics built for the backcountry
Do it
Follow in the footsteps of legendary 18th-century explorer William Bartram—linking tranquil hollows and skirting a wild river—on this challenging 21.1-mile, two-night shuttle hike. The yellow-blazed Bartram Trail honors the man who spent four years documenting the Southeast’s wilderness. From the Beechertown trailhead (1), climb .2 mile of switchbacks, then join a forest road to start a 2.9-mile, 1,500-foot climb. Passing views of cloud-trapping gorges, the trail narrows (2) through tunnels of rhododendron and mountain laurel (blooming late spring) before you traverse the eastern flank of 4,052-foot Rattlesnake Knob (3). Soon, Pierce Creek’s burble signals the first night’s camp (4) at mile 4.3, where dense second-growth provides tethers for a load-lightening tarp (“Key Skill,” next page). Next morning, hike 2.5 miles through rolling forest before turning south (5) to wind along the Nantahala River on 4.7 flat miles with access to swimming and fishing. A six-inch-deep ford (6) across concrete at the base of a 250-foot rockfill dam signals the start of a 400-foot climb past a spillway-fueled waterfall. From here, a 1.5-mile wooded traverse yields the trip’s first glimpses of 1,065-acre Nantahala Lake. At mile 14 (7), the trail follows Wayah Road .6 mile along the lake’s shoreline to the inlet of Winespring Creek (8)—the last reliable water before camp. Turn left to re-enter the rhododendrons and start the 2,300-foot climb over 5.2 miles of McDonald Ridge. At the flat, viewless summit of 5,440-foot Winespring Bald (9), the Bartram Trail merges with the AT. A spring just beyond makes this a welcome, primitive high-country camp. Next day, skirt the northern slopes of Wayah Bald for 1.3 miles, with intermittent views toward the dark ridges of Great Smoky Mountains National Park. From 5,342-foot Wayah’s stone summit tower (10), take in views of undulating, hazy blue ridges and peaks. To finish, backtrack 150 yards to the parking area.

Trip Planner
Shuttle car: From Asheville, take I-40 W to US 74 W. In 61 miles, turn left on Wayah Rd., go 19 miles, turn left on Wayah Bald Rd., and park at the summit.
Trailhead: Backtrack 22.8 miles to the Beechertown trailhead.

Shuttle Jude Julius; (828) 736-0086; $85

Gear up Nantahala Outdoor Center, 13077 Highway 74 W, Bryson City; (800) 232-7238;

Contact (828) 524-6441;

Trip data


PAGE 1 2

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

Reader Rating: -


Star Star Star Star Star
Taylor Deyton
Mar 02, 2013

This Trail was a fun 3 day for me, my fiancee and our 2 dogs Riley and Lola the views were amazing and the weather was perfect (October). Day 2 covers 14 miles, if you are following the Rip&Go profile, and most of that stair steps along ridges, the Wayah Cafe along the road just before you enter the woods again is a great place to refill your water the ladies there were amazing, they even brought a pan of fresh water out for our dogs! Thank You! I'd say for those who like to take their time to complete trails this would be more comfortable as a 4 day trip splitting day 2 into 2 equal segments of 7 miles or there about. The Shuttle we took from wayah bald to the trail head was courtesy of Jude's Husband who was very kind and accommodating by allowing our dogs to ride in their car (Honda Fit). All in all I would definitely recommend this hike to anyone who is looking for great views and a good time!


Your rating:
Your Name:


My Profile Join Now

Most recent threads

Trailhead Register
Montana has nasty insects!
Posted On: Aug 30, 2014
Submitted By: Tallgrass
Trailhead Register
High Summer Heat
Posted On: Aug 29, 2014
Submitted By: TIMOTEO
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