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



day +








FATMAP difficulty grade



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.