Kimsey Creek to Long Branch Loop

MODERATE 7 reviews

Kimsey Creek to Long Branch Loop is a 23.3 mile moderately trafficked loop trail located near Rainbow Springs, North Carolina that features beautiful wild flowers and is rated as moderate. The trail offers a number of activity options and is accessible year-round. Dogs are also able to use this trail but must be kept on leash.

23.3 miles
5203 feet

dogs on leash





nature trips




wild flowers


13 days 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.

1 month ago

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.

1 month ago

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.

2 months ago

4 months ago

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

5 months ago

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.

6 months ago

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.