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Hemphill Bald Trail is a 13.2 mile moderately trafficked loop trail located near Maggie Valley, North Carolina that features beautiful wild flowers and is rated as moderate. The trail offers a number of activity options and is best used from March until October.

Distance: 13.2 miles Elevation Gain: 2,946 feet Route Type: Loop

backpacking

camping

hiking

nature trips

walking

bird watching

running

forest

views

wild flowers

wildlife

bugs

muddy

over grown

rocky

no dogs

Please note that the road leading to this trailhead is currently closed so you will have to hike in from the surrounding area to start the trail.

hiking
26 days ago

Due to COVID, the last portion of the road is closed so you have to park your car at Masonic Monument and walk another 2.5 miles (moderately steep). re:trail (counter-clockwise): it's mostly following the ridge in the shades up to Hemphill bald. There, you will find a nice table to picnic with a great vista (there is no vista up to that point). We ended up turning around at the table for a total of 14 miles. Nice hike, shaded. No vista up to Hemphill Bald

hiking
blowdown
8 months ago

Beautiful day for a hike. Saw a bull elk and a couple of female elk. One large blow down on the last mile of the trail. Found the large oak tree described online.

hiking
9 months ago

I had been trying to hike this for six years. But due to govt stuff the park was closed each time I made it up there. Third time is a charm, though! Driving up from Ga., I spent the night before camped at the trailhead. So I had a good start at around 830. I chose to go counter clockwise. I wasn’t sure what kind of shape I was in or how far I could make it before gassing out. And I wanted to be sure to at least see the Bald. Getting to the Bald is an fairly easy 4.4 miles with about two to three short sections that made me huff. After the Bald it was a long decent down. I met a cpl hikers who were heading back bc they thought they heard a bear. I kept going just being sure to make a little noise here n there. Mostly, it kept me aware. Once at the bottom, there’s a log bridge going over a stream. Besides that one, all of the water crossings were easy to hop over and around. Then begin the equally long ascent back up. We all know that any trail that goes down must eventually go back up. Not exactly strenuous but persistent, I’d say. Throughout the hike I took a number of snack breaks. One of the good things about going solo is not having to hold other up or wait for others, for that matter. And I took a 45 snack break/hammock snooze where Caldwell met Rough Fork. That’s what I needed to charge up for the last couple miles. Near the end, it levels off for a bit. And before I knew it I could see cars parked in the trailhead lot. A bunch of them had shown up after I embarked earlier. I’m happy to say that I accomplished my goal of not only assessing my shape (better than expected) but also knocking it out in one day. Seven and a half hours, in total. There are a few camp sites peppered along the trail. But if you wanna stay over be sure to check the website (Dept of Nat Resources), I think. All sites now require a reservation. The forecast looked a little wet. But I’ve learned that my efforts are often rewarded by a leap of faith. Get out there and give it a shot

hiking
muddy
over grown
9 months ago

hiking
9 months ago

Our favorite part was when a small herd of elk met us coming down the trail. For a few minutes we just stared, not knowing what to do. When my husband and I hiked into the woods off trail, the elk and their babies passed us. The stone picnic table area had a lovely view and would be even better on a clear day. Trail was bone dry for us.

hiking
bugs
muddy
over grown
washed out
10 months ago

Hemphill Bald was absolutely beautiful! The trail itself was extremely hard on my ankles. I knew it wasn’t going to be a smooth trail since horses can use it also. But it was super rough. There weren’t many views at all except for Hemphill Bald. It would probably be a pretty hike once the leaves have fallen from the trees. I did see 3 bears, a bunch of wild turkeys, and some like of little fat round birds. I want to say quail but I have idea if we have those here. I will admit that I might have been overly ambitious doing this trail. It’s the longest I’ve ever hiked and I’m gonna feel it tomorrow!!

hiking
bugs
muddy
over grown
washed out
10 months ago

Hemphill Bald was absolutely beautiful! The trail itself was extremely hard on my ankles. I knew it wasn’t going to be a smooth trail since horses can use it also. But it was super rough. There weren’t many views at all except for Hemphill Bald. It would probably be a pretty hike once the leaves have fallen from the trees. I did see 3 bears, a bunch of wild turkeys, and some like of little fat round birds. I want to say quail but I have idea if we have those here. I will admit that I might have been overly ambitious doing this trail. It’s the longest I’ve ever hiked and I’m gonna feel it tomorrow!!

hiking
11 months ago

This trail had different views which I really liked, but the trail is shared with horseback riders so you had to dodge horse manure at times but more problematic was the horses damaged the trail in places especially along narrow ridges. This trail would problem be better hiked in the fall or early spring since it was a little overgrown in a few sections. I’ve done a few short out and backs on this trail previously and have seen bears and elk on a couple occasions.

hiking
11 months ago

Nice, well maintained trail. We only did the first 3 miles and there wasn’t much to see. Undulating most of the way.

hiking
Tue May 21 2019

nice trail, verily easy up to the divide.

hiking
Sun Jan 20 2019

1/1/19 - Lovely hike. Much less strenuous than one might expect. While we didn’t trek all the way to the summit (stopped and ate our lunch at the favorable bald of the Swag). 13.3m out to that point and back via my GPS.

backpacking
Mon Oct 29 2018

This trail was okay. We went clockwise and camped at the campsite since we had a late start to our day. It was all downhill which made it go very fast. The campsite was very nice. It had a place to hang food from bears and a fire pit. It was right by the river which made it a bit chilly but it was nice to listen to. No outhouse but it was not a big deal since we had the site completely to ourselves. In the morning, we headed out on the trail towards the Hemphill Bald. When it came to the second intersection with a river, we couldn’t find the trail on the other side and there was no bridge in sight. We think that the trail was supposed to go up the mountain a bit before crossing the river, but since we couldn’t see a clear path, we decided not to risk getting lost in the woods. We turned back and did the half of the trail that we started with. There was no mountain view or wild animals which was disappointing, but the trees were beautiful and the weather was very nice so I can’t really complain. If I were to do this loop again, I would go the other direction around the loop!

Sat Oct 13 2018

Great hike, beautiful at the top! Seen deer, elk and turkey! Would do it again!

backpacking
Mon Sep 03 2018

Beautiful trail with lush green Appalachian woods full of water and wildlife. Never saw turkey or elk but you could hear hens in the woods clucking and see where elk had been. With 35lb packs we did find this to be on the higher end of the moderate spectrum. Nice easy walk to begin the trail, consider this your warm up. Plenty of small brook crossings, nothing to worry about just watch for the mud, it will appear deceptively shallow and then suck you down into the depths. Switchbacks give a great place to step off for a moment and catch your breath before you continue on. As you get close to the Catalooche Ranch you are going to see a gate on the right of the trail, just go inside and walk the pasture, (make sure to close the gate), save yourself some bushwacking. We were the idiots climbing through the overgrowth on the edge of the field watching people leisurely stroll down from the bald therefore missing the scrambling we were doing through briers and weeds. More people out than I expected on the trail but it appears there are a few different ways to access the bald. Never saw a sign for the Continental Divide, alot of people were looking for it while we were there, best I could do was offer a mileage gauge, doesn't appear that is it marked. Due to time management issues we didn't make the loop but did make it to the bald, arrived too late in the morning and made the decision not to pack out in darkness. Will do this trail again to complete the entire loop. Five star rating, good trail with beautiful scenery that was kept up well with excellent parking (although a small lot) and easy to access.

Mon Jul 16 2018

Great trail. So much of the Appalachians in such a short distance.

backpacking
Tue Jun 12 2018

Man, a lot of this trail is 5 star beautiful, and campsite 41 is top notch. However, a huge portion of the trail on the bald is just completely overgrown, including the viewing area. The only thing more persistent than snake anxiety is bug bite anxiety! Beautiful view, but would only hike again in the winter months.

Sat Apr 21 2018

Closed today

Thu Dec 28 2017

Closed yesterday

backpacking
Mon Nov 06 2017

Nice hike with lots of uphill. Saw bear twice but they were more scared of me than I was of them. Also tons of elk in the area.

hiking
Mon Oct 09 2017

Amazing hike! Feels like I got spoiled my first time out there! Some areas were somewhat challenging with some steep switchbacks but it’s worth it all for the views. Very active wildlife. Ran into some elk on the trail. Just have to step off trail to let them pass. Met some incredible people out there too. Looking forward to be out there again soon.

Mon May 29 2017

What a great hike. Did the loop, it was little long but worth the work. Great views and beautiful scenery!! Definitely recommend

hiking
Sun May 07 2017

My sister and I hiked this trail in the rain, sleet, and snow. What a challenge! We hiked the entire loop. Some horses passed us and added to the challenged. They tore up the wet trail and left their mark.

hiking
Mon Oct 24 2016

Perfect fall hike, great views of the mountains in the distance and experience the change in the color of the leaves as the elevation change. This is the 3rd time I have done this hike and this time of year is my favorite!

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