A shorter AT segment best known for its summit of Big Bald.


Analysing terrain data


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The exposure grade describes the potential consequences of falling or slipping off the path.

Low Exposure: The path is on completely flat land and potential injury is limited to falling over.

Medium Exposure: The trail contains some obstacles such as outcroppings and rock which could cause injury.

High Exposure: Some trail sections have exposed ledges or steep ascents/descents where falling could cause serious injury.

Extreme Exposure: Some trail sections are extremely exposed where falling will almost certainly result in serious injury or death.

The trail contains some obstacles such as outcroppings and rock which could cause injury.


This segment of the Appalachian Trail is just a short drive away from Asheville, NC and a great pit stop for anyone traveling through the area.

Starting from Sam's Gap, the trail begins with a steep climb to get you warmed up.

Less than 2 miles in, there is a clearing that serves as a great picnic spot for a short day hike. There are multiple shuttle services that stop here.

Some offer point to point section hike options, and others take thru-hikers into town for a resupply. After a brief descent, the trail crosses a dirt road along private property and a shelter not long after.

The main climb to Big Bald begins here.

The shelter is a great camping opportunity and is often full during thru-hiker season.

In the offseason, you would likely have it to yourself.

After a steep approach to the summit, you are rewarded with panoramic views of both North Carolina and Tennessee.

A USGS survey marker denotes the summit of the bald.

The strong winds make it a volatile place to camp, but many push their luck in order to get an unadulterated view of the stars. While many turn around here for a 13-mile round trip day hike, the AT continues down to Little Bald just a few hundred feet below. Following a few more miles, a small sign denotes an overlook just off the trail, a landmark known as High Rocks.

Take a few minutes to take in the view before re-entering the "green tunnel" and heading to Nolichucky River.