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AT BT LOOP Nantahala, Pisgah National Forests North Carolina NC
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Ike Mouser
(isaac.mouser) - F
AT BT LOOP Nantahala, Pisgah National Forests North Carolina NC on 05/26/2010 11:45:03 MDT Print View

Hello Everybody! I had made threads in the past month or two concerning a hike in the nantahala/cherokee/pisgah national forests, but am now considering this hike.

I am considering doing an AT BT loop in North Carolina. It will be a 50 mile loop. The trip is described in detail here:

Some questions I have:

Can this be done in 4 days instead of 5? I am thinking the website above is considering traditional pack weights, whereas our heaviest loads will be around 25-27 LBS full to the max with food/water. I have hiked a good deal in the south and am aware of the difficulty that hiking some of the south presents with the humidity, temperature, and terrain. We are both in good shape and are young skinny guys with light packs.

I am also concerned about the remoteness of the trip. We are both seeking a “wilderness” experience. From reading the website, a hydro dam as well as pipeline are mentioned. This brings up concerns of hearing motorcycles/cars on a regular basis as a road may likely run to the dam/pipeline. This would certainly be a negative.

We will also be hammock camping and are concerned about the campsites. We will most likely not be staying at them, instead preferring to do as much mileage as we can and setting up camp where ever we find two trees in an off trail location.

If anyone would like to offer advice on the following as well, that would be much appreciated:

*Alternative routes to shorten the trip (I will be taking my brother on his first trip, 50 miles may be a bit much for him, i would like to have options along the hike to possibly shorten it in case he wants to)

*Scenic points of interest not mentioned on the website
*Other hikes in the Nantahala/Pisgah National Forests either LOOP or via return shuttle

I look forward to producing a photograph/video essay for the forums and for others who may consider this trip in the future.

Edited by isaac.mouser on 05/26/2010 11:49:51 MDT.

Ike Mouser
(isaac.mouser) - F
Actual length on 05/26/2010 20:54:21 MDT Print View

One of the forum members who recently did the hike, commented that his GPS read 66 miles instead of the 50 stated on the website. Can anyone who has done the hike confirm or deny this? thanks!

Alex H
(abhitt) - MLife

Locale: southern appalachians or desert SW
Re: AT BT LOOP Nantahala, Pisgah National Forests North Carolina NC on 05/27/2010 04:47:11 MDT Print View

You can do it in 4 days, it will take a long day at some point. Depending on which direction you go. We started at Wesser and went clockwise. Either direction the climb out from the Nantahala is steep. We did a 22 mile day from Cold Spring Shelter to a camp past the Apple Tree campground.

The only section with a lot of houses and roads is the section around the lake and past the Apple tree campground. If you decide to cut it short you can hitch back to Wesser before the climb up to Cheoah Bald.

Ike Mouser
(isaac.mouser) - F
alex on 05/27/2010 04:54:42 MDT Print View

how heavy were your packs and did you notice that it was actually 50 or 66 miles?

Alex H
(abhitt) - MLife

Locale: southern appalachians or desert SW
Re: alex on 05/28/2010 04:32:39 MDT Print View

I started with a 24 pound pack. No GPS but the Bartram trail guide has the mileage at 28.5 miles from Wine Spring bald to Cheoah Bald and the AT stats book has the mileage at 27.2 miles from Cheoah Bald back to Wine Spring. 55.7.

Ike Mouser
(isaac.mouser) - F
wilderness on 06/07/2010 18:52:15 MDT Print View

was this a wilderness type trip? I ask because i've read about roads and power plants.

Jamie Shortt
(jshortt) - MLife

Locale: North Carolina
re: AT BT LOOP Nantahala, Pisgah National Forests North Carolina NC on 06/07/2010 20:20:34 MDT Print View

Ike, Since I'm the source of the 66 miles let me add a few insights. First realize I hike around a fair bit, I don't stay right on a trail. I go down side trails, I hike down to get water, I hike up a trail to check out a peak. Also I made a mistake and walked down the wrong road for a significant distance. I think it was maybe 3 additional miles. So you might not want to use my distance as the best estimate...unless you hike like me.

Trekking the Southern Appalanchians shows the distance as 54.8 miles with an elevation gain of 16,300 feet. I would say this sounds reasonable to me if you stick right to the trail. What I find to be much more important than the distance is the 16,300 feet of elevation gain. The book shows you how to hike this trip in four nights, three nights, and two nights. I did it in two nights (2.5 days), but had a sub 5 lb base weight and the distance wasn't the challenge the inclines were.

As far as wilderness goes I have not found too many places in the SE where you can hike a 50+ mile loop and not come across a road, building, etc. At the Nantahala Lake you will actually walk down a paved road right past a small gas station selling drinks and snacks. A little further down is a small restaraunt with what smelled to be an incredible collection of country fried foods. And on your right hand side will be boaters drinking beer. Make sure to bring some cash or a really sad face.

You might want to consider the Smoky Mountains for a loop that keeps you away from civilization. But it does have already identified camp sites. If you want a wilderness feeling another place is Linville Gorge, but doing a loop in the gorge is a real challenge.