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Appalachian Trail: Fontana To Wesser

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Nantahala National Forest

Appalachian Trail: Fontana To Wesser is a 23.6 mile lightly trafficked point-to-point trail located near Fontana Dam, North Carolina that features a river and is rated as difficult. The trail is primarily used for hiking and backpacking and is best used from March until November. Dogs are also able to use this trail but must be kept on leash.

Distance: 23.6 miles Elevation Gain: 8,615 feet Route Type: Point to Point

dogs on leash






wild flowers

30 miles of AT Cheoah Bald Thirty miles of Ups and downs. Trail easy to follow in this area. Must be in good physical condition. There are four to five shelters along this route and water can be found at each. Need to carry 4 to 5 litre's per person per day. If you stay in shelters then try to get there early.

8 months ago

I did this section in its entirety, and it is 27.6 miles, not 23 like the stats here say. This is a serious hike. I attempted it in 2 days with only one overnight out on the trail, and it kicked my butt. I've done 14 - 16 mile days on other parts of the AT before with less struggle; the elevation gain and loss really get you here. That said, the trail is in good condition, the shelters are decent and all had water available at them. It was hard to find water the rest of the trail, so definitely fill up when you find it. the "jump up" 5 to 6 miles in from the NOC is a nice view of the Nantahala Gorge, but Cheoh Bald is probably the nicest vista here. In winter or early spring, the section north of Brown Fork Gap Shelter probably has great views east and west since it is a ridge walk. I got the feeling of walking up on a high ridge even though the trees obscure long range views. Don't underestimate this trail. I read about people taking 4 days to hike this and I scoffed, confident I would do it in 2 days. I ended up finishing in 2 days (northbound) like planned, but I was forced to hike the Jacob's Ladder portion after the sun went down and generally made myself miserable pushing hars. 3 days would have made more sense.

Sat Nov 24 2018

The trail is marked with a bold white stripe. The entrance could be found at the end of the picnic area near to a lookout. We walked the trail with our dog and we found enough water sources. The trail offers not so many lookouts as expected, most the times we walked though forest. BUT: You are more or less lonely and it is a “real” hike trail for someone used to the Italian alps. So: Thumbs up and definitely recommendable for a good workout.

Wed Oct 11 2017

Fri May 24 2013

It is not as scenic as the Smokies, but more fun. I loved Fontana and I loved Natahala. Met some nice people at both and on the trail and a grumpy old bear.

Wed Nov 09 2011

Nice climb to Cheoah bald and then great views of nantahala gorge on your way down to Wesser

6 months ago

Thu Jan 03 2019