Rocky Bald via Tellico Gap Nantahala National Forest, NC
DURATION 2 hours
There And
Back Again
Rocky Bald via Tellico Gap

Just south along the Appalachian Trail from the popular Wesser Bald fire tower, the less crowded Rocky Bald offers visitors an expansive view of the east Nantahala National Forest. You have two great day hiking options for this view. This page describes the route from Tellico Gap for a short but steep hike. A longer hike begins at Burningtown Gap with a much more moderate slope.

Begin this hike at Tellico Gap. Several 2-car alcoves line the gravel road. The AT crosses the road at the gap so make sure you're going the right way as there are no north or south markers. The trail next to the gated road leads toward Wesser Bald, so go the other way that begins with a set of steps on the opposite side of the road.

The trail begins to climb elevation immediately, gaining almost 500 feet over the first half mile. This is the most challenging part of the hike. The ascent lessens to gain another 600 feet over the next mile. Near the top you'll pass a blue-blazed campsite trail on the right before coming to the signed Rocky Bald spur trail on your left at 1.7 miles.

Climb the steep spur trail to an open rock ledge that provides a near 180-degree view to the east. On the way up you'll cross over a few bare rock sections. Look for the blue blazes on the ground to lead the way and be careful if it's wet or icy. Looking out toward Sylva, you can see to the edge of the Nantahala National Forest where it borders Pisgah National Forest along the Blue Ridge Parkway about 30 miles in the distance.

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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 %
0.3 mi
32 ft
250 - 500 ft/mi
~ 5 - 10 %
0.3 mi
129 ft
500 - 750 ft/mi
~ 10 - 15 %
0.5 mi
284 ft
750 - 1000 ft/mi
~ 15 - 20 %
0.4 mi
378 ft
1000+ ft/mi
~ 20+ %
0.4 mi
458 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 a set of wood steps in one of the parking alcoves. This is opposite the trail next to the gated road that leads northbound to Wesser Bald.
1.43 mi
1.43 mi - Campsite on Right Blue-blazed side trail on right leads to a campsite.
1.74 mi
1.74 mi - Turn Left Turn left on the blue-blazed Rocky Bald spur trail.
1.82 mi
1.82 mi - Rocky Bald View
length3.7 miles
difficulty9.1 Easy-Medium
duration2 hours
features Dog Friendly  Summit  Views 
trail typeThere And Back Again
blazeWhite (AT), Blue (Rocky Bald Spur)
elevation gain1260 ft.
park/forestNantahala National Forest
ranger districtNantahala Ranger District
90 Sloan Road
Franklin, NC 28734
parking feeNone
trailhead coordinates 35.268096, -83.572246 (Degree Decimal, DegDec)
N 35°16.09, W 83°34.33 (Degree Minutes, MinDec)
N 35°16'05'', N 35°16'05'' (Degree Minutes Seconds, DMS)
Trailhead Directions
35.268096, -83.572246 (Degree Decimal, DegDec)
N 35°16.09, W 83°34.33 most GPS units use this one
N 35°16'05'', N 35°16'05'' (Degree Minutes Seconds, DMS)
Google Map It
Coming from US-74 and Wayah Rd, the last mile is gravel road, but fine for low ground clearance vehicles. Coming from NC-28/Bryson City Rd, more is gravel but should be in the same condition. Both directions are closer to a single lane and get twisty, so take it slow on corners.
Parking Capacity
10-12 vehicles with overflow along road.
Rocky and rooty in places but nothing out of the ordinary.
If it's wet or icy, take caution on the steep bare rock sections on the Rocky Bald spur trail.
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Reviews / Comments
Average Review Rating
5 (1)
hikethesouth-4 years ago
Great Alternative or Addition to Wesser Bald
This is a great option if you've already been to Wesser Bald or just to get away from the crowds. While the view can't beat the fire tower, there's a much better chance you'll have it all to yourself. Or add it on to the Wesser Bald hike. The climb up is pretty steep so you'll work for your view. Easy to follow and not too rocky.
Easy-Medium | Hiked Fall 2019
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