58 routes · Hiking
Appalachian Trail: Dicks Creek Gap to Winding Stair Gap
The Appalachian Trail crosses into North Carolina and summits the first peaks over 5,000 feet.
Also in North Carolina, United States of America
- 64 km
- 3 km
- 2.7 km
- 1 day +
- Low Point
- 809 m
- High Point
- 1.6 km
For those looking for a multi-day hike, most people would suggest dividing this section into 3 or 4 days. The trailheads are only a 45-minute drive from each other, making this an easy shuttling opportunity for those looking to bag some of the first 5,000-foot peaks of North Carolina.
The first 9 miles lead to the NC/GA state line, then Bly Gap. This area is home to a unique gnarled oak tree that looks like something you would imagine while reading a fantasy novel. Just hiking to this landmark provides a shorter 1-2 day hike from Dicks Creek Gap Road, with a large shelter 4.5 miles out from the trailhead.
Roughly 16 miles into this segment, you'll reach the 5,500' summit of Standing Indian Mountain, the highest point along the Nantahala River, and the highest point on the Appalachian Trail thus far.
As a folklore story recognized by many, Wikipedia states the following:
"According to Cherokee mythology, Standing Indian Mountain is home to the remains of a Cherokee warrior. This warrior had been sent to the mountaintop to keep a lookout for a winged monster. The monster, whose lair was located on Standing Mountain, would swoop in from the skies and steal children. Upon discovering the location of the monster's lair, the Cherokee prayed to the Great Spirit for assistance. The prayers were answered when the Great Spirit destroyed the monster and its lair with thunder and lightning. The lightning frightened the warrior and the warrior tried to abandon his post. Because the warrior abandoned his post, he was turned into stone for his cowardice."
Today, the bald summit offers astounding views from this grandstand of the Southern Nantahala Wilderness. This is also the first time the Appalachian Trail climbs above 5,000 feet.
With several camping opportunities along the next portion, most would opt to stop for the night. Carter Gap Shelter and Betty Creek Gap Shelter lie between Standing Indian Mountain and Albert Mountain.
After a good night's rest, you'll be just a short hike away from the iconic Albert Mountain Fire Tower. A USGS survey marker denotes the official summit of the mountain, rewarding you with astounding and incredible views of the surrounding Nantahala National Forest.
After descending from the summit of Albert Mountain, you'll pass Big Spring Shelter before continuing through a series of gaps to the northern terminus at Murphy Road (NC-64).
Sources: https://www.therestlesswild.com/blog/standing-indian-loop https://www.cnyhiking.com/ATinGA-BlyGap.htm http://parrsadventures.blogspot.com/2016/11/at-dicks-creek-gap-to-winding-stair-gap.html https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/StandingIndianMountain
Hiking trails where obstacles such as rocks or roots are prevalent. Some obstacles can require care to step over or around. At times, the trail can be worn and eroded. The grade of the trail is generally quite steep, and can often lead to strenuous hiking.
Best time to visit
- Summit Hike
- Dog friendly
- Wild flowers
- Water features
- Forestry or heavy vegetation