Explore Long Distance Loops (>30m) - view hand-curated trail maps and driving directions as well as detailed reviews and photos from hikers, campers and nature lovers like you.

Long Distance Loops (>30m) Map

It was a nice trail, went by myself and it took me about 4 days. It is definitely tough though, be prepared for steep inclines

This trail was a perfect loop for my first back packing trip. A friend and I did the loop counterclockwise. We parked at the backcountry info center, which was perfect because it’s exactly where the trail starts and ends. Our first day was a half day, hiking a little over 4 miles.
The 1st day we started around 2:00, hiking down Kimsey creek until joining the AT. We spent the night at Standing Indian Shelter.
The 2nd day we hiked to just past Carter Gap Shelter and set up camp (roughly a 9 mile day). Day 3 was by far the most scenic and had a few good climbs. We finished up on the AT and took the Long Branch Trail back to our car. It ended up being a 11.4 mile day from our campsite back to the car.
Overall, it was a great trip! Good multi day loops are hard to come by and this one is perfect for a weekend or beginner trip. The trail is really well marked, LOTS of water sources, and plenty of spots to camp. You’ll meet a lot of thru hikers and enjoy the beautiful scenery. Be prepared for some work getting up Mt. Albert- but it’s definitely worth the view you earn and a perfect spot for a lunch picnic.

We did this trail in two days. Great hike. They were a few trees down on Kimsey Creek trail, but all were passable. The first day it was overcast and windy, However the following day the sun came out and WOW!! by the time we got to Albert Mtn it was totally clear.

Great trail with excellent views

2 months ago

Very cool trail. It have many loops and turn around points just In case you don’t want to do the whole trail. Great scenery and sit down areas

Great hike up to the ridge line and back down the next day. Stayed at double springs gap shelter. Lots of springs and river crossings so you need waterproof boots! Stayed just above freezing fortunately.

Myself along with a friend of mine did this trail over the weekend. Thought we’d give ourselves a challenge. It was nothing but that. 12 inches of snow in most places. I would advise to wait until the snow fades. Great trail, wish we could’ve seen a lot more open views though. Quite a few gorges making it difficult to view some beautiful sights.

3 months ago

The trail was very overgrown and caused confusion on which way the trail went. Made it all the way around just follow the blue markers. Doing this in two days was tough. Would suggest do three day hike. Not to much water on the trail.

Hiked the Kimsey Creek trail to Deep Gap AT junction November 26 2017. Previously hiked this route 20 years ago. Not as well marked as I remember. Lots of down trees and damaged foot bridges along the way. Not much traffic on any of the trails. Quite strenuous but a great hike!

Awesome trail, great for multi night hike. Elevation gains are no joke though so make sure you're conditioned for the climbs!

5 months ago

Tough steep difficult challenging. GREAT TRAIL!

Great hike. However lots of trees down on the trail between Albert Mtn and Standing Indian Mtn and especially on Kimsey Creek trail. Did the hike in two days but should have taken more time to enjoy the views!

Great hike. However lots of trees down on the trail between Albert Mtn and Standing Indian Mtn and especially on Kimsey Creek trail. Did the hike in two days but should have taken more time to enjoy the views!

Great hike. However lots of trees down on the trail between Albert Mtn and Standing Indian Mtn and especially on Kimsey Creek trail. Did the hike in two days but should have taken more time to enjoy the views!

6 months ago

Did half of the loop. Started at the Fires Creek picnic area. A short hike and then nobody is around. After the first mile I didn't see another person until the next day. Stayed the night at Big Stamp.
The trail was REALLY overgrown. Hard to see at times. The blue markers were a life saver.
No water at all on the 1st part of the trail. When you get to Big Stamp go down the hill about 4-500 yards and you will run into the river. A great place to fill up.
All in all a good hike but BRING WATER.

6 months ago

Did this hike over 3 days, very relaxed. Easy two day hike if you don't have to drive too far before and after.

Temperatures were nice over Labor Day weekend. Threatened to rain but ended up to be just gorgeous.

Climbs aren't too long and strenuous. Good conversation and moderate pack weight and you hardly notice the difficulty. There is one section that is a little treacherous. After Albert Mountain Firetower (going clockwise) there are some pretty steep rocky steps you have to take which mud makes particularly harder.

A little crowded on the AT section over Labor Day, but that's to be expected. You might want to do your part and help pack out garbage you find along the trail. No mosquitoes, but a fair amount of buzzing flies when the wind died down. There's also a few interactions with National Forest Road that disturb the isolation somewhat.

Water sources were frequent and clean.

The Kimsey Creek section was my favorite part. Less crowded, lots of streams, waterfalls, and foot bridges made for lots of photo opportunities.

If you're doing this in two days, Carter Gap Shelter would be your best bet for a stop. Our relaxed 3 day hike had us stop at Betty Creek Gap and Standing Indian Shelter.

Make sure you take the side trail up to Standing Indian Mountain. It's not along the main trail and you could end up missing it.

Very cool bridge on this hike. It's very photogenic and just fun to cross. When we hiked this trail, we didn't see any other people. I don't know if that's normal, but we enjoyed the seclusion! Bug spray is recommend as you are pretty deep in the woods. I got bit a lot, but it was definitely worth it!

Great hike. A lot of uphill. Made it a 2.5 day loop. Not too many views of the surrounding mountains, but you will be engulfed in the trails. Loved it.

We really enjoyed this loop. We did a fairly easy 2 miles in, a couple of 9 mile days and a couple of miles out. It is a short 2 miles to the AT. It is a beautiful hike along Long Branch Creek (going clockwise). There is a shelter within the first mile on the AT. The roughly 18 miles on the AT was wonderful. The views are of the forest and wildflowers. There are only a few places that you can see the surrounding mountains. The fire tower on Albert Mountain is spectacular. nWater was plentiful. The 4 miles down Kimsey Creek is wet, but spectacular. There was not a lot of traffic. It rained two afternoons.

Extremely difficult hike. Was not as prepared as i should have been. The park wants you to only camp at designated camp grounds which arent very conducive to a multi day hike considering their locations. Very beautiful hike. My first backpacking trip and this pushed me to the limit.

9 months ago

It's a great trail, plenty of elevation and it's pretty remote. The only downsides are there's a lot of poison ivy and a lot of ticks. If you're bringing a dog, make sure you give them tick medicine ahead of time, and that you use a lot of deet on yourself. Otherwise, great hike!

I would have rated this trail 5 stars but you couldn't use much of it. it has not been cleaned up since the fires last year. there were trees down all over the trails. we had to go over, under and around constantly. also the trails are not blazed at all so it is very easy to miss a turn or lose the trail with all the trees down.

the trails were so bad we could not complete the loop and had to come back out on the same path. if it were cleaned up it would have been a great hike and camping experience.

Loved this loop! Completed it in about 3 days and it was at a leisurely pace! Beautiful views!!!

We went counter-clockwise. Kimsey trail starts climbing right away from the camp ground. But settles down and is absolutely beautiful with many sources of water.

The AT northbound was great, standing indian shelter was extremely popular but plenty of campsites near by. Finding water along trail was easy. Highly recommend betty creek trail. Nice place to camp and get off the beaten trail for a night. The ascent up albert is rough. But I'm not sure I would want to attempt it in the opposite direction. Found out later that you can cheat, by using the road. Fire tower at the top gives you an unbelievable view and made the climb worth it.

Next 7 miles to finish was pretty much down hill, to glassmine gap and then long branch trail to the camp ground. Folks at the campground were nice and really helpful. This is a trail that i would highly recommend, esp for those who don't have the time to thru-hike.

Monday, February 27, 2017

I recommend starting clockwise on the Long Branch Trail to avoid the brutal northbound ascents up to the Albert fire tower and the long switchbacks leading to Standing Indian's summit. The LBT begins directly across from the Backcountry Info Center (basically, a bulletin board) at the Standing Indian Campground.

Thanks to the hard work of the Nantahala Hiking Club, both the Kimsey Creek and Long Branch connector trails are in excellent condition - well-blazed with single blue bars and no major blow-downs to maneuver.

The AT section of this loop is nestled primarily in the Southern Nantahala Wilderness - 90% of which was affected by the fires from the Fall. Fortunately, it was a beneficial burn, clearing out much of the underbrush and leaves......and revealing many food and fuel cans "lost" on the trail over the decades!

The fire tower is by far the panoramic highlight of the trek, with some scenic ridge walking in parts during late fall to early spring.

These days, any loop incorporating the AT means you'll have plenty of opportunities to bump into other folks. Even in February, on a drizzly, foggy weekend, the shelters and major camping spots were packed!

A well-marked and idiot-proof loop.

Monday, February 20, 2017

Very strenuous IMO, can be a tough trail that twists almost the entire duration of the hike

mountain biking
Sunday, November 27, 2016

Definitely a nice but challenging trail

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Pretty Tough. Lot's of water available from creeks and the rivers. Can be easy to lose the trail at water crossings. Much Shade. A good two day challenge

Sunday, July 03, 2016

We did the 1.3 mile climb to the spruce mountain campsite #42. It was reached by baslam mountain road which in itself is very remote. The hike is a continuous climb and I think as far as backpacking it is strenuous. This Trail is in my opinion extremely well diverse in the plant life and at the top elevation of 5440 ft very moist. There seemed to be no signs of any available water near as the bear branch had nothing to offer and is very near non existent. We tried to locate a lost and forgotten Trail that I saw on my topo that supposedly leads to a tower. We never made it due to the sunset and it was very difficult as its an abandoned trail. Trees down and in a year or so more no trace of a Trail at all. Very curious though. If you want a very secluded trail to be alone this is it. I loved it. It's so difficult to find solitude. Just carry water.

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