Named after William Bartram, a flower-loving botanist and one of the earliest Europeans to explore the mountains of North Carolina and Georgia, this 117-mile trail seems appropriately named. Though the ancient forests Bartram encountered while botanizing in southern Appalachia in 1775 are gone now, Dean Zuch, treasurer of the Bartram Trail Society, says, "The rhododendrons, plots of wild strawberries, flame azaleas, Solomon's seal, sweet shrub, mountain laurel, ginseng, Fraser magnolia...create a seemingly infinite green tapestry that surrounds the trail."
Take along your plant guidebooks and explore this lush land as you hike along ridges to mile-high peaks and tunnel through green valleys.
Consider taking another good book, too. According to readers, this little-known trail is not only a good alternative to the Appalachian Trail in these parts, it's the loneliest path in the long-trail family.
For best information:
North Carolina Bartram Trail Society, (828) 526-4904; www.georgiatrails.com. Ask for the Bartram Trail Map Set.
"One Tough Son-of-a-Flower-Picker," Backpacker, April 1998.