Albert Mountain via Mooney Gap Nantahala National Forest, NC
DURATION 2 hours
There And
Back Again
Albert Mountain via Mooney Gap

Hiking up to the fire lookout tower of Albert Mountain overall isn't a long or difficult hike; however, the final ascent is nothing to be trifled with. Catch some of the best views in the Nantahala National Forest from the summit of Albert Mountain on this alternate route from Mooney Gap via the Appalachian Trail.

Starting at the small parking area at Mooney Gap, head northbound on the AT. Look for the 'N' on the trail marker. Easy to follow, the trail can be a bit rocky and muddy in a few places, but not too bad most of the way. Pass some side trails to a campsite before a view opens up to the right after a third of a mile. At 0.8 miles a side trail takes you to another view on the right. At several places the trail is just a few feet from the Forest Service road.

The trail rolls elevation for most of this hike until the last quarter mile. This section may be short, but it's quite steep, at one point gaining at a rate of 2500 feet per mile. This section is also extremely rocky. Take your time on wet slippery rocks, especially on the way back down which can be just as daunting if not more so.

Albert Mountain fire tower sits at the summit. While the top section is closed, you can climb the tower to just below the platform. From here you'll get long range views in all directions. If you're not good with heights, there's still a view at the base of the tower.

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Elevation Map Length (miles) by Elevation (feet)
Slope Breakdown
Elevation Gain
Elevation Range
Grade Range
Elevation Gain
0 - 250 ft/mi
~ 0 - 5 %
0.4 mi
44 ft
250 - 500 ft/mi
~ 5 - 10 %
0.4 mi
170 ft
500 - 750 ft/mi
~ 10 - 15 %
0.4 mi
270 ft
750 - 1000 ft/mi
~ 15 - 20 %
0.2 mi
152 ft
1000+ ft/mi
~ 20+ %
0.2 mi
349 ft
For out-and-back hikes, elevation loss is the same as the gain.
Terrain Map Click to control map
0.0 mi
0.0 mi - Trailhead Look for the AT marker with the 'N' to head northbound toward Albert Mountain.
0.33 mi
0.33 mi - View Pass a view on the right.
0.84 mi
0.84 mi - Side Trail to View Look for a side trail on the right to another view. It should be just after passing a campsite on the left.
1.52 mi
1.52 mi - Summit Albert Mountain summit and fire tower.
length3.1 miles
difficulty8.9 Easy-Medium
duration2 hours
features Dog Friendly  History  Summit  Views 
trail typeThere And Back Again
elevation gain960 ft.
park/forestNantahala National Forest
ranger districtNantahala Ranger District
90 Sloan Road
Franklin, NC 28734
parking feeNone
trailhead coordinates 35.035418, -83.469916 (Degree Decimal, DegDec)
N 35°2.13, W 83°28.19 (Degree Minutes, MinDec)
N 35°2'08'', N 35°2'08'' (Degree Minutes Seconds, DMS)
Trailhead Directions
35.035418, -83.469916 (Degree Decimal, DegDec)
N 35°2.13, W 83°28.19 most GPS units use this one
N 35°2'08'', N 35°2'08'' (Degree Minutes Seconds, DMS)
Google Map It
From the US-64 side you will have to cross a concrete slab ford. I was able to make it in a sedan but after heavy rain a 4WD vehicle may be necessary. The Forest Service roads in general are fine for 2WD low ground clearance vehicles but coming from the US-23 side may be a little rougher as it is steeper and can get washed out.
Parking Capacity
3-4 vehicles.
Sections of the trail are rocky, rooty and muddy. The final ascent is very steep, often hiking up bare rock that if wet would be much more treacherous.
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Reviews / Comments
Average Review Rating
5 (1)
hikethesouth-5 years ago
360-Degree Views!
Amazing 360-degree views from atop a fire tower at the summit of Albert Mountain make this an amazing hike. While there is a shorter route, this hike gives you a bit more challenge, especially on the final ascent that feels like it's going straight up. This should be on your short list!
Easy-Medium | Hiked Spring 2019
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