Whiteside Mountain Nantahala National Forest, NC
miles
LENGTH 2 MILES
DIFFICULTY 4.1 Easy
DURATION 1 hour
ELEVATION GAIN
500
feet
TRAIL TYPE
Loop
Whiteside Mountain

This popular 2-mile loop trail along the awe inspiring Whiteside Mountains cliffs offers one of the best view-to-distance ratios of any hike. Nestled in the Nantahala National Forest of North Carolina, for most of a half mile you get view after view, each better than the last.

From the trailhead, the hike heads up a set of steps to connect to an old road. Turn left here. Shortly after this, look for a narrow trail on the right with a post marker for the loop. This is the steeper way up, which this page describes. For an easier hike, continue on the gravel road.

Hike up a series of steep switchbacks, ignore a few obvious side trails. The trail gains elevation at a rate of almost 900 ft/mile. A series of wood steps helps you along a particularly steep section. At one point, the trail splits, but rejoins shortly afterward. It would help if the blazes weren't so sporadic.

At .6 miles you'll come to your first real view. And then another after that. And after that. For the majority of a half mile you'll enjoy back-to-back views along the 1000 foot high cliffs of Whiteside Mountain. Several information signs are scattered along this section. Look for the summit, a rock mound at a fence corner. Just after this, a small hidden view awaits for those that climb down a narrow crack in the rocks along the way. Don't worry, it's fenced as well.

Pass more views and an observation deck before the trail turns away to the left, beginning it's descent back to the trailhead. Ignore a side trail going uphill on the way back down, staying to the outside of the loop. If you want something more, at the last view behind the information sign for "Straddling the Continental Divide", an unmarked trail heads downhill. This leads to Devil's Courthouse, a difficult unmarked trail with numerous side trails but ends at a fantastic view.

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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 %
0.2 mi
15 ft
250 - 500 ft/mi
~ 5 - 10 %
0.2 mi
92 ft
500 - 750 ft/mi
~ 10 - 15 %
0.1 mi
81 ft
750 - 1000 ft/mi
~ 15 - 20 %
491 ft
76 ft
1000+ ft/mi
~ 20+ %
0.2 mi
285 ft
Elevation Loss
Elevation Range
Grade Range
Length
Elevation Loss
0 - 250 ft/mi
~ 0 - 5 %
0.1 mi
15 ft
250 - 500 ft/mi
~ 5 - 10 %
0.6 mi
211 ft
500 - 750 ft/mi
~ 10 - 15 %
0.4 mi
228 ft
750 - 1000 ft/mi
~ 15 - 20 %
404 ft
64 ft
1000+ ft/mi
~ 20+ %
171 ft
47 ft
Terrain Map Click to control map
Details
length2 miles
difficulty4.1 Easy
duration1 hour
features Dog Friendly  History  Summit  Views 
trail typeLoop
blazeBlue
elevation gain500 ft.
park/forestNantahala National Forest
ranger districtNantahala Ranger District
90 Sloan Road
Franklin, NC 28734
828-524-6441
parking fee$3/vehicle
trailhead coordinates 35.080397, -83.144147 (Degree Decimal, DegDec)
N 35°4.82, W 83°8.65 (Degree Minutes, MinDec)
N 35°4'49'', N 35°4'49'' (Degree Minutes Seconds, DMS)
Trailhead Directions
35.080397, -83.144147 (Degree Decimal, DegDec)
N 35°4.82, W 83°8.65 most GPS units use this one
N 35°4'49'', N 35°4'49'' (Degree Minutes Seconds, DMS)
Google Map It
Parking Capacity
20-30 depending on how bad people park.
Notes
Restrooms are available at the trailhead.
Several rocky sections that can be hazardous if wet or icy.
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Reviews / Comments
Average Review Rating
5 (1)
hikethesouth-1 month ago
View After View After View
Amazing view on a short easier hike. Take the road to the top for the easier path and the marked loop trail for a little bit of difficulty. Great views either way, well worth the effort. It will be crowded so get there early.
Easy | Hiked Winter 2019
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