Cheoah Bald via Stecoah Gap Nantahala National Forest, NC
miles
LENGTH 11.1 MILES
DIFFICULTY 26.4 Hard
DURATION 5-6 hours
ELEVATION GAIN
3680
feet
TRAIL TYPE
There And
Back Again
Cheoah Bald via Stecoah Gap

Believe it or not, this is the easiest route to Cheoah Bald. Hike southbound along the Appalachian Trail to the 5,062 ft summit of Cheoah Bald for stunning views to the southwest. Nestled in the Nantahala National Forest in North Carolina, Cheoah Bald is also the northern terminus for the Bartram Trail.

There's limited parking at Stecoah Gap. The trail begins on the same side of the road as the parking, up the steps next to the gated road. Switchbacking up the hill, the trail climbs 730 ft over the first mile before giving you a break, but several sections are much steeper along the way.

The next two miles will roll up and down, passing Simp Gap at 2 miles and arriving at Locust Cove Gap at 3.1 miles. Winter views abound but will disappear in summer. From here the trail is mostly uphill, ascending over 1500 ft to the summit, but again several sections are much steeper. At 5.3 miles you'll pass the intersection with the yellow-blazed Bartram Trail on the right. Ignore the mileage listed on the sign here, it's only another .2 miles to the top.

Just before arriving at the summit, 3 side trails branch off to the right, all connecting to the grassy bald so you can take them or ignore them. Arriving at Cheoah Bald, a large view opens to the right looking southwest. Walking out into the grassy field beyond the trees will give you an even better 180° view. Take a good long break here, because you still have a ways to go to backtrack to the parking lot. One of the steepest sections of this hike awaits you in the last two miles.

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Elevation Map Length (miles) by Elevation (feet)
Slope Breakdown
Elevation Gain
Elevation Range
Grade Range
Length
Elevation Gain
0 - 250 ft/mi
~ 0 - 5 %
1.1 mi
105 ft
250 - 500 ft/mi
~ 5 - 10 %
1.2 mi
475 ft
500 - 750 ft/mi
~ 10 - 15 %
1.4 mi
899 ft
750 - 1000 ft/mi
~ 15 - 20 %
1.1 mi
961 ft
1000+ ft/mi
~ 20+ %
1 mi
1282 ft
For out-and-back hikes, elevation loss is the same as the gain.
Terrain Map Click to control map
Navigation
0.0 mi
0.0 mi - Trailhead Begin at the small parking lot directly off of NC-143 / Sweetwater Road. You'll begin by travelling south on the AT up the steps on the same side of the highway as the parking lot.
2.0 mi
2.0 mi - Simp Gap
3.1 mi
3.1 mi - Locust Cove Gap
5.3 mi
5.3 mi - Intersection with Bartram Trail Pass the yellow-blazed Bartram Trail on the right. Ignore the mileage listed on the sign here, it's only another .2 miles to the top.
5.5 mi
5.5 mi - Cheoah Bald Summit and Views Just before arriving at the summit, 3 side trails branch off to the right, all connecting to the grassy bald so you can take them or ignore them. At the summit a large view opens to the right looking southwest. Walking out into the grassy field beyond the trees will give you an even better 180° view.
Details
length11.1 miles
difficulty26.4 Hard
duration5 - 6 hours
features Dog Friendly  Summit  Views 
trail typeThere And Back Again
blazeWhite
elevation gain3680 ft.
park/forestNantahala National Forest
ranger districtCheoah Ranger District
1070 Massey Branch Road
Robbinsville, NC 28771
828-479-6431
parking feeNone
trailhead coordinates 35.358147, -83.717932 (Degree Decimal, DegDec)
N 35°21.49, W 83°43.08 (Degree Minutes, MinDec)
N 35°21'29'', N 35°21'29'' (Degree Minutes Seconds, DMS)
Trailhead Directions
35.358147, -83.717932 (Degree Decimal, DegDec)
N 35°21.49, W 83°43.08 most GPS units use this one
N 35°21'29'', N 35°21'29'' (Degree Minutes Seconds, DMS)
Google Map It
The small parking lot is directly off of NC-143 / Sweetwater Road. Head southbound on the AT starting on the same side of the road as the parking. Head up the steps next to the gated road.
Parking Capacity
7-8 vehicles.
Notes
Some rocky sections and small boulder fields.
A few downed trees and limbs but nothing difficult to get around.
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Reviews / Comments
Average Review Rating
5 (1)
hikethesouth-3 months ago
Difficult Hike with Rewarding View
This was a much more difficult hike than I anticipated. Short sections of the final ascent to Cheoah Bald were much steeper than the overall incline which can drain you fast. But the view at the top is well worth it. Since this is the easiest route to the bald and is still difficult, you won't find too many other people at the top, something you can't say for more popular views.
Hard | Hiked Spring 2019
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