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Asheville, NC: Nantahala Headwaters Loop

Hike 24.8 miles around the source of the Nantahala River on the Appalachian Trail and camp atop Albert Mountain for night-sky views. On night two, pitch your tent on 5,498-foot Standing Indian, a treeless bald with front-row sunset vistas.

Rating

From reader and map contributor kurtisk, this popular-for-a-reason loop hike circles the headwaters of the Nantahala River.

Text by Andrew Matranga. Mapped and Photographed by Steven Kruse

Plan it

Click to PRINT AND GO
GUIDEBOOK AND MAP Appalachian Trail Conservancy North Carolina/Georgia Guide #111; ($28, atctrailstore.org). Get ground-truthed advice for this route—or plan a 2,175-mile thru-hike with BACKPACKER’s Guide to the Appalachian Trail (free, backpacker.com/AT).
FEES/PERMITS None
CONTACT Nantahala National Forest, Nantahala Ranger District (828) 524-6441; fs.fed.us/r8/
CONDITIONS Water sources at shelters are reliable. At 4,000 feet, temperatures are pleasant from May to September. Target late May to early June for flowers and mid-October to early November for showy foliage.
GPS DATA Download tracks and waypoints, print or order custom topos, from the menu on the right.

LOCAL LINKS

GAS
EXXON
51 Merrimon Ave.
Asheville, NC 28801
(828) 258-1670

GEAR
 
BLACK DOME MOUNTAIN SPORTS
140 Tunnel Rd.
Asheville, NC
(828) 251-2001

GROCERIES
FRENCH BROAD FOOD CO-OP
90 Biltmore Ave.
Asheville, NC
(828) 255-7650

RESTAURANTS

THIRSTY MONK
50 Commerce St.
Asheville, NC
(828) 254-5470
MAST GENERAL STORE
63 North Main St.
Waynesville, NC
(828) 452-2101
SOUL INFUSION TEA HOUSE
628 East Main St.
Sylva, NC
(828) 586-1717
CAFF-E REL
457 East Main St.
Franklin, NC
(828) 369-9446
Multiday gear list
Backpack
Three-season tent
Down bag (15° to 40°F)
and sleeping pad
Compass, map, GPS unit
Gas stove and fuel bottles
Lighter and matches
Cookset, bowl, insulated
mug, eating utensils
32 oz. water bottle (2)
Water treatment
Multitool/knife
Bear-bagging rope
Headlamp with
extra batteries
Waterproof/breathable
jacket and pants
Fleece and down jackets
Synthetic pants and
shorts
Midweight baselayers
Synthetic T-shirt (2)
Hat and gloves
Hiking boots
Camp footwear
Wool/synthetic socks (3)
Trekking poles
Bug repellent and
sunscreen (SPF 15+)
Stuffsacks
Zip-top bags
Toilet paper and trowel
First-aid kit
 
 
 
 

To Trailhead

Take I-40 16.7 miles west. Turn right at exit 27 (US 74) and head west. Go 26.3 miles, then take exit 81 to US 23/US 441 south past town of Franklin. Turn left at Allison Creek Rd./W. Old Murphy Rd. Go 1.9 miles. Right onto FR 67. Drive 2.1 miles to Standing Indian parking area.

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