Andrew's Bald Trail

MODERATE 127 reviews

Andrew's Bald Trail is a 3.5 mile heavily trafficked out and back trail located near Cherokee, North Carolina that features beautiful wild flowers and is rated as moderate. The trail is primarily used for hiking, walking, nature trips, and birding and is accessible year-round.

DISTANCE
3.5 miles
ELEVATION GAIN
856 feet
ROUTE TYPE
Out & Back

kid friendly

birding

hiking

nature trips

walking

forest

views

wild flowers

wildlife

rocky

no dogs

This hike covers 1.8 miles of the 5.6-mile Forney Ridge Trail in Great Smoky Mountains National Park. The hike is from the Clingman's Dome parking lot to Andrew's Bald, which has views of the Great Smoky Mountains. The Forney Ridge Trailhead is at the end of the parking lot at the end of Clingman's Dome Road. The first mile or so of the trail proceeds downhill through woods. Portions of the trail here are very rocky, which can make for difficult hiking. The trail then heads uphill through woods to Andrew's Bald, which is 1.8 miles from the trailhead. Andrew's Bald is one of several "balds" in Great Smoky Mountains National Park, which are so named because they are mountaintops that are not covered by trees, but are instead covered by grass, rhododendron, and mountain laurel. From Andrew's bald, there are panoramic views of the southern half of the park, including Fontana Lake. Wildlife sightings, including black bears, are also possible. Hikers can return to Clingman's Dome to complete the 3.6-mile hike or continue down the Forney Ridge Trail. The Forney Ridge trail continues nearly four more miles down the ridge, however, making for a very steep return trip.

hiking
1 day ago

This is one of my favorite trails in the park. We hiked this fairly early in the day with two as school-aged children after going to the Clingman's dome tower. 100 yards down the trail and we had left 99% of the crowds behind. We saw only a handful of other hikers on our way out to the bald. Trail goes downhill most of the way to the bald, meaning you are hiking uphill on the way back, with the steepest section right before the parking lot. Trail is varied with a lot of neat sections of spruce forest. The bald was spectacular. The flame azaleas were blooming and the views were fantastic on the day we hiked. Highlight of the hike for us was seeing a mother bear and two cubs of the side of the trail about a quarter mile before the bald.

hiking
12 days ago

Good for a short, quick hike with good views on a clear day.

hiking
15 days ago

I would rate this trail as easy on the descent to the bald, and easy/moderate on the uphill return to Clingman’s Dome. Lots of man made stairs and structures along the first 0.5 mile from Clingman’s Dome, becoming more natural as you get closer to the bald. We did see one black bear approximately 15 yards from the trail, but it kept to itself. Other hikers reported seeing a female with two cubs earlier in the day as well. Absolutely beautiful views from the open grassy area of the bald!! For those who are typically looking for a more challenging hike, this trail is still worth considering for its spectacular views.

hiking
21 days ago

My review is from the perspective of an amateur landscape photographer.

The views from Andrew's Bald are very good. I went during the middle of the day which is a "no-no" in landscape photography, but my purpose was to check out the composition to determine if a return visit is warranted either during the fall or during the golden hour.

I plan on returning but you should be aware there are two major caveats. First the views (which are very good) are limited to south only and you won't get the sun either at dawn or sunset. Second, the views from the start of the trail, i.e. the Clingman's Dome parking lot, are just as good if not a little better. So if you are just interested in landscape photography (or just taking in a view) and not in hiking, then you can skip this trail and shoot from the parking lot. And from the parking lot you actually have a more expansive view and can catch the setting sun.

Having said that, there may be one good reason to go all the way to the bald and thats blooming rhododendron in mid-June. They may make good foreground interest, but I haven't seen it first-hand yet.

hiking
29 days ago

I took this hike while visiting the Clingman's Dome tower. This was a nice hike downhill from the parking lot. it is rocky some places but levels out a bit towards reaching Andrew's Bald. The hard part is the hiking upward towards the parking lot. it is a good workout and just taking your time it will be a pleasant experience.

hiking
1 month ago

I do not consider this a moderate, family friendly hike. It was difficult in places. The hike to the bald was moderate. The hike back to the parking area was difficult in places. This hike starts at a higher elevation and descends. So returning is mainly uphill on rocky terrain. It was beautiful at the bald, perfect place for a pic-nic . Walking sticks, bug spray and plenty of water is recommended.

hiking
1 month ago

If you’re at Clingmans Dome take the time to take this trail. From the observatory you can hit the AT for .3 of a mile where you will come to the Clingmans Dome Bypass trail. Take it .5 to the Andrews Bald Trailhead. It’s 1.7 miles from there. Mostly downhill to the destination. It opens up to a beautiful area with views that a camera can’t capture the depth.

2 months ago

Different from many other trails in the park. Very rocky to start with. Lots of elevation changes. Nice payoff at the bald.

hiking
2 months ago

Pretty short and relatively easy hike. Starts to the left of the paved path up to Clingman’s Dome. The trail itself goes downward for the majority of the time until Andrew’s Bald, meaning you have to hike back up to the parking lot. Rocky trail with a decent amount of steps and some wood planks to use. Gorgeous less crowded view and pretty area.

2 months ago

Wonderful view

hiking
2 months ago

Great views at the end. Hike just average

hiking
7 months ago

This trail was awesome! However, all of the signs read that the total length of the trail was 1.8 miles.... Not true.... I do not recommend bringing small children, and I would be prepared to bring trekking poles and possibly some snacks... The view was SO worth the trip though!!!

hiking
7 months ago

Hiked on a very cold, misty morning and it was absolutely beautiful. No views from the bald this time, but the forest leading to it more than made up for it. Incredible place.

7 months ago

This is an awesome walk!

hiking
7 months ago

This was an awesome hike. We started early when it was about 40 degrees but warmed up once we got to hiking. The hike is totally worth it when you walk out onto the bald. A very beautiful and awe inspiring view.

hiking
7 months ago

Starting at the top of the mountain means the hike to the summit is downhill and the hard part is the way back to the parking lot! An interesting change from most places in GSMNP. It's a pretty cool hike but make sure you try to go on a clear day (hard to come by in the Smokies).

hiking
7 months ago

Took the long way!!! Up Clingmans Dome to AT then down the Clingmans Dome bypass to Andrews Bald!! Adds about 1.2 miles to trail. The views from the AT towards Gatlinburg are >> WOW!!

When you come to the end of the timber and step out and onto the bald, can take your breath away!!! Take a blanket to sit on and a PICNIC!!!! :-)

hiking
7 months ago

a great kickoff hike at the great smoky mountains, especially if you have a late start or are short on time. trail is well marked and maintained, with lots of shade. would highly recommend bringing lunch to enjoy and bask in the stunning scenery. plus, that fuel of energy will help on the incline back up!

hiking
7 months ago

Excellent hike. The views at Andrew's Bald are amazing! Took a little over 2 hours to hike there and back. Highly recommend for anyone looking for a shorter hike with great views.

hiking
8 months ago

Amazing views at the top, everything looks so surreal and truly makes you think you're looking at a picture. Fairly easy hike but wouldn't take children as it might be a little too difficult for young ones.

hiking
8 months ago

Nice hike. Took about 1:05 one way. Trail fairly busy and very rocky at times. Nice view from the top. Good workout. Pack a snack and eat at the top.

hiking
8 months ago

Not a bad trail. Moderate rating is correct! Be ready to climb hills, but it's not steep. At a pretty steady incline. Went while it was raining. Beautiful even with clouds, fog, and rain. Parts of the trail do flood though, so if you go when it rains, prepare for wet feet!

hiking
9 months ago

Did this hike on a foggy day, which made the trail fun, but the visibility from Andrews bald wasn't great. Also noticed a lot of bees at the bald! The trail starts downhill and ends uphill, which I wasn't fully prepared for.

hiking
9 months ago

Spectacular! A great family hike. The bald is an excellent place to relax and snack after the trek down there. Or should I say fuel up for the climb out!

hiking
10 months ago

The trail leading down to the green field was pretty enough. It wasn't that strenuous and pretty straight forward. We were a little disappointed with the end point view.

hiking
10 months ago

10 months ago

We went the week after Father's Day in June and the Flame Azaleas were a spectacular sight in peak bloom

hiking
11 months ago

It's a nice wooded trail with decent rock formations at the beginning. The view from Andrews Bald is nice, but not spectacular. We did it as a warm-up hike our first day in the Smokies. After doing it, I would say it is slightly more strenuous than a warm-up hike.

hiking
11 months ago

Great views from the Bald, and it's a great picnic spot. Well worth the hike, just be sure to bring bug repellent!

backpacking
11 months ago

Views are amazing from Andrew's Bald. The only sounds were singing birds and at night, it was silent. The clouds painted the sky rainbow colors and the mountains were a sparkling blue. The foliage is also breath taking.

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