Explore the most popular camping trails in Southern Nantahala Wilderness with hand-curated trail maps and driving directions as well as detailed reviews and photos from hikers, campers and nature lovers like you.

I’ve backpacked this loop three times and I never get tired of it. Great views from Albert and Standing Indian. If you can be on top of Albert for sunrise, it’s a treat. Then hustle arose d the loop and make Standing Indian for sunset. Sunrise on Standing Indian is good too. There’s a good spring near Standing Indian too. One of my favorite loop hikes. You can do it in two days but take your time and enjoy it over three if you can.

Very solid and well maintained trail. I'd recommend using Guthook's Guide as well as AllTrails app since you are walking the AT for most of this loop. It'll help with planning your water stops. Finished the trail in 2 days, but I'd recommend 3 if you want to have a more casual time. The shelters and sites are spaced pretty well if you'd rather average 8-9 miles a day.

I headed counter-clockwise down the Kimsey Creek trail first. It was bit overgrown and there were several blowdowns for the first half mile or so, but as long as you are paying attention you shouldn't have any issues. This portion follows and cuts across streams almost constantly so you will have no problem with water. I'd suggest filling up before heading up to Standing Indian mountain though, just in case.

After Carter Gap shelter, it's pretty much smooth sailing until a couple miles before the Long Branch junction. On my trip, there was a massive blowdown fully blocking the trail. I climbed over the tree, but I would 100% recommend that you try to squeeze under it or maybe hike up the mountain a bit to walk around it. It had rained earlier that day and everything was slippery.

If you are heading NOBO, the hike up Albert Mountain is pretty intense. It's half stairs, half rock climbing. There is a bypass you can use which follows a forestry service road for a bit and reconnects on the other side. It took me roughly 30 mins to climb the 0.3 mi from the base to the fire tower. I hiked this part after it rained, and the rocks were pretty slippery. You can always do the bypass then just hike SOBO up to the tower.

More painful than Standing Indian.

July 5, 2018. Husband set out alone on Standing Indian. Deep Gap trail was not marked or accessible. Best route through AT trail. Beautiful vistas at the top.

Just did this hike for a 3day trip. We parked at standing Indian campground for $2 per day. Day 1 we went about 12 Miles south/clockwise and camped at carter gap. There were plenty of tent sites and fire rings there but it was crowded. So don’t expect privacy here. Day 2 we went about 9.5 Miles and camped at deep gap. Several spots here as well, but is right off of a road. We found a private site close to the creek and there was only one other group camping in the area. Someone had recently cut down a tree and chopped up firewood so that was convenient. Day 3 we hiked the kimsey creek trail (3.7 Miles) back to our car. You will cross and walk through creeks and streams the entire time your on this section and there were a lot of downed trees. It was rated as easiest, but definitely was not that. It was a good trail overall though. The whole hike was great.

Great hike. I did this hike in 13hrs over a 2 day period. The first half was not bad, more of a walk through the woods feel. Second half was a little more of a challenge. Took me an extra hour for the second half of the trail due to the climbs.

This was a great hike, but I recommend three days rather than the two day hike that I did for the loop. Park at the backcountry information center and the trail is easily marked. The Kimsey Creek area is beautiful along the river and plenty of places to stop and enjoy, but be prepared to walk in water, on rocks, and navigate some down trees. It’s slippery and very muddy in areas and your feet could submerge so be prepared. No one else was on that part of the trail, but met many once I got to the parking for the AT. There’s a water stop at the end of the trail and a good place to break before Deep Gap. At this point make sure you are committed to finishing the loop back to Indian Creek, if so continue N on the AT. otherwise take the road to the right or Kimsey trail back to the camp. Also, while it was warm in Kimsey, you’ll definitely want layers for the hike up. The LBT is the most difficult part, a lot of tree debris, but worth the views! It’s a great hike and met some great people.

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

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.

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!

backpacking
11 months ago

The trail is beautiful. However please go into this knowing it is not 5.6 miles out and back. That is a one way mileage.

The scenery is beautiful. Many downed trees to navigate. One very sketchy bridge that I don't advise using the handrail on. It was very muddy in spots early on (over your shoe deep if you're not careful). Very rocky trail, regardless of footwear it takes a toll on your feet. Slippery trail in general add rain to the mix like it did on us and it gets interesting :) no need to bring much water just bring your sawyer and a bottle.

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!

backpacking
Wednesday, September 06, 2017

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.

backpacking
Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Our group used the trail to get up to Deep Gap Campground for some camping and exploring.

The trail is moderately maintained. Several areas where you need to fight through brush and fallen trees. Some trail deterioration is evident which is not an issue if you're carrying light. If you are carrying for primitive camping or backpacking, be sure to use poles to assist with your balance.One of the several bridges needs serious repair.

I can see this being a perfect day-hike trail in the fall when the humidity and heat has dropped to acceptable levels.

hiking
Sunday, August 13, 2017

I think this is the Kimsey (NOT Kinsey) Creek Trail that departs from the area near Standing Indian Campground. It is an absolutely fabulous trail that primarily follows the creek so that there is the wonderful sound of rushing water for most of the hike. Not much elevation change but challenges come from the several tree blowdowns that must be navigated, the many rocks and roots on the trail, and the many times the water must be crossed. The trail is marked all the way to Deep Gap, a one-way distance of 4.1 miles.

backpacking
Tuesday, July 25, 2017

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.

backpacking
Sunday, July 23, 2017

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.

backpacking
Saturday, May 20, 2017

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

Great trail. Solid hike. Butt and knee burner. But most of the Appalachian trail is. Beautiful after a rain

backpacking
Friday, April 14, 2017

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.

backpacking
Tuesday, March 07, 2017

Great view! Make sure you stop by Outdoor 76 in Franklin, NC. They are great people. You can find most any hiking gear there. If you need any information about the area or AT they are happy to help.

backpacking
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.

hiking
Sunday, February 26, 2017

Great section of the AT in Ga. it's rated hard but I would consider it moderate at least the first 2.5 miles that we did. Very enjoyable!

Very difficult. Got caught in a lightning storm and trashed my knee coming out in a hurry with a thirty pound pack in but, hey it was an adventure to add to my list!! So DO IT!!

My first start on the AT

hiking
Wednesday, March 09, 2016

did the section from blue ridge gap to rich knob. this is a fantastic trail in the georgia southern nantahala wilderness. i climbed a few hundred feet out of the gap and then the trail leveled off and followed a nice ridge past wheeler knob. the trail was dry with great footing as opposed to the muddy mess around the blood mountain area. rich cove gap was a great place to take a lunch break. i encountered more than a dozen happy hikers headed north.

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