Appalachian Trail Hike 6/3 – 6/5/2011

This hike was for two nights and three days, from Winding Stairs near Franklin, NC to the Nantahala Outdoor Center (NOC) in Wesser. Our total logged miles, including off treks to shelters, was 32.46 miles.

Day one we set out at about 12:04 PM from Winding stairs off hwy 64 about 12 miles west of Franklin, NC – elevation, 3720 ft. Our destination was the Siler Bald Shelter, which we arrived at 3:11 PM, 4.8 miles and at an elevation of 4649 feet. Set camp for the night.

Leg 1 - 4.8 miles

The next morning, Saturday,  we would set out for Wayah Bald, and then Cold Spring Shelter if we could make good time.

But before we set out for Wayah Bald, we climbed the summit of Siler Bald, elevation 5196, which we reached at 8:27 AM.

Siler Bald Approach Field looking NW to Fire Gap Ridge

Siler Bald View of Snowbird Gap to NE

Siler Bald South View


We parted camp at 7.49 AM and reached Wayah Bald, elevation 5298 feet at about 12:50 PM. This was by far the toughest part of the hike for me, approximately 7 miles of steady uphill climb on a rocky, rooty trail.

Leg 2 - 10.1 miles

But the climb was well worth it, with spectacular views.

Wayah Bald elev 5341 SW View

Wayah Bald SE view

After a one hour rest, we broke out for Cold Spring Shelter (elevation 4963 feet) and arrived at 6:08 PM.The length of this leg, including off treks, was 6.09 miles.

leg 3 - 6.09 miles

We totaled about 16 miles this day, so we were wasted.  The evening was cool, and there was a steady, pleasant breeze coming off the mountain all night. The only bad thing about this Shelter was that it was located right at the stream, so millions of  bugs were swarming until dark. Bug spray did little to deter the varmints.

The next morning (Sunday) we broke camp at 7:46 Am, and headed for Wesser Bald (total miles trekked was 7.03 miles). Elevation profile was from 4642 to about 4500 feet on the Bald summit, so this part of the hike was mostly a level ridge hike.

Leg 4 - 7.03 miles

View from Wesser Bald Tower elev 4655

We departed Wesser Bald at 12:45 PM for our final trek to Nantahala Outdoor Center, a trek of 6.10 miles. Profile descended from 4301 feet  to 1745 feet at the Center. We reached the center at 5:05 PM.

Leg 5 - 6.10 miles

This was a great hike. Despite the temperature in major cities being 94 degrees, it was fairly cool in the mountains the whole trip. The only complaint I have was the bugs, but that is a given when hiking during the summer in the mountains. Looking forward to more hikes like this…

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6 Responses to Appalachian Trail Hike 6/3 – 6/5/2011

  1. Tim Farrell says:

    Hey Dabbler – we were thinking of doing this same hike in June 2012. How was the foot traffic? were there alot of thru-hikers in this section at this time of year? Were the shelters crowded? We’ll probably stretch it out to a 3-nite/4-day trip, so we may try to hit a shelter every nite.

    Thanks…Tim Farrell aka “Big Walker”

  2. mdabbles says:

    Big Walker, the trail was sparse on this trip at this time. The Winding Stairs parking lot had about 6 or 7 cars, room for over 20. Almost no one on the trails, we had one couple stay at Siler Bald Shelter, (and they camped in a tent, not the shelter). Along the trail, we saw no one from Winding stairs to Siler Bald, and then only one couple between Siler Bald and Wayah Bald. Cold Spring, we had another hiker at the shelter, but he camped away in a tent. As we approached NOC, we saw a few more hikers, and of course, the center was very crowded with rafters. I think it would be a good time to go, since little traffic after Memorial Day, and it is still cool in the Mountains. Itis a fantastic hike, you will like it.

  3. Tim Farrell says:

    Dabbler – Thanks for the quick response. Did you use a local shuttler? We’d like to leave a car at NOC and have someone take us back to Winding Stair Gap if possible.

  4. mdabbles says:

    No, we parked my friend’s car at NOC (they have a long term free parking area) and then drove mine back to Winding Stairs via Wayah Road, going by the Nant Lake. I know NOC has shuttle services available, if you have a larger group you might be able to get a good deal. Also, here are several other outdoor centers nearby that offer shuttle services. I don’t think it would be any problem. If you call and get some info, would you please post it, I would like to do that hike again.

    • Tim Farrell says:

      Sure will…I understand there’s a fellow in Franklin, NC that provides shuttles, etc. and is very hiker friendly. I believe his name is Ron Haven. I walked this section of the AT back in the mid 1990s as part of my section hike of the entire AT. I walked ~65 miles in NY this past September. My brother & I have been at it since 1987, so this was our 25th anniversary hike. We are on the 40-year plan!! I’ve been taking my son on “best of the AT” hikes the past 6 years in June. He will be starting college next year, so this may be our last trip together….I hope not.

      Have a great Thanksgiving!!

      • mdabbles says:

        Man, that’s awesome. I always wanted to do the App Trail, retired 2 years back, so I’m trying to get as many hikes in as possible while I still have legs. It’s the most rewarding recreation I know. Love it. Good luck, and stay in touch! You have a good Thanksgiving too!

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