Kimsey Creek to Long Branch Loop

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Southern Nantahala Wilderness

Kimsey Creek to Long Branch Loop is a 25.4 mile moderately trafficked loop trail located near Franklin, 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.

Distance: 25.4 miles Elevation Gain: 4,419 feet Route Type: Loop

dogs on leash

backpacking

camping

hiking

nature trips

walking

bird watching

forest

views

wild flowers

wildlife

hiking
muddy
rocky
15 days ago

backpacking
muddy
rocky
22 days ago

hiking
muddy
rocky
1 month ago

hiking
muddy
2 months ago

Overall, really a great trail. I started at Rock gap thorough fare with the AT. Added a couple more miles, but you won’t get confused because you stay on the AT entire time. Plenty of water everywhere, plenty of campsites, not very strenuous.

backpacking
5 months ago

This was a fantastic hike! The highlight was spending the night at the fire tower and getting to watch the sunrise. The inclines are little challenging but very doable. Kimsey Creek trail is not blazed well but still fairly easy to follow. Make sure you take an updated map. The locations of some shelters have changed. Not a big deal if you are using a tent but they are helpful landmarks and resting areas.

hiking
8 months ago

This trail offers an opportunity to experience the Appalachian trail without having to backtrack. Expect two to three days depending on your pace. [Counter clockwise] If you want to extend it about 30 miles park at Rock Gap and take Standing Indian road to Kimsey Creek Trail an on to the AT back to Rock Gap parking.

backpacking
9 months ago

Parked at the Backcountry Info Booth at Standing Indian Campground. Took Long Branch Loop to AT, and then on to Albert Mountain. The view from the fire tower is great! Going clockwise on this route let's you hike down the very rocky descent, rather than do a hard rock climb going up. A good number of hiker's were on the trail, but it was Labor Day weekend. Camped at Betty's Creek Gap, then on day 2 continued on the AT up to Standing Indian Mountain. Some very overgrown areas where you could barely see the trail under the tall weeds as you pushed through. But nothing too bad. On top of Standing Indian Mountain I was blessed with a very clear day -you could see forever. Wish I had camped on the mountain, but was running low on water and thought there might be a source at Standing Indian shelter, so I hiked down. There wasn't a water source at the shelter, but I spent the night there anyway. That's when my phone died, and so did my battery backup! So the map doesn't show that I hiked about a mile the next morning and caught Kimsey Creek Trail. It was really wet and only got wetter as I got closer to Standing Indian RV Campground. But the creek was beautiful the entire length of the trail, and the upside was that there was plenty of water for filtering! All told, great trip and great trail. Definitely recommend it and I will probably do it again sooner rather than later.

10 months ago

Great loop trail. We started at backcountry parking area and hit the soft ascent to the Mt Albert Firetower. Great views, lots of water, and nice niche campsites. Saw lots of wildflowers and snails. Hike rounds the ridges 280 degrees from Mt Albert to Standing Indian (watch sunset if you can! Beautiful western views into Georgia). The last drop into Kimsey Creek is a terrific descent along the creek with streams converging every couple hundred yards.

hiking
Mon Apr 15 2019

Fun trail but very crowded along the AT. We ended up taking the lower ridge trail instead of Kinsey creek trail. A little more challenging, but saw no one and was incredibly peaceful. That was our favorite trail!

Tue Mar 12 2019

Hiked this clockwise over 2 days. Started day one by hiking to Carter Gap Shelter and staying the night. Then continued day 2 back to the backcountry info booth. 4 star because Long Branch and the A.T were great but Kimsey Creek trail is not maintained at all and was pretty sparsely blazed. I would recommend clockwise but taking the Lower Ridge trail down from Standing Indian right to the Kimsey Creek Campground.

backpacking
Tue Oct 16 2018

I am so glad I picked this trail. We started from Backcountry Info Booth, right near Standing Indian Campground. We started counter-clockwise on the Kimsey Creek Trail from the Campground and hiked about 5 miles until we reached Standing Indian shelter, where we camped for the first night. Day 2 we walked around 15 miles northbound on the AT. When you reach the junction to get on the AT at the end of Kimsey Creek, make sure you go North, which will be to your left (this happens before Standing Indian Campground). We hiked all the way until the summit of Albert Mountain and camped at the top. The best parts of the trail are immediately before you begin the ascent to Albert Mountain and the views here. I would also recommend staying at Carter Gap shelter if you’re looking to shorten the mileage / day. We stopped here for lunch around 4:00 pm after leaving Standing Indian Shelter at 11:00 am. Day 3 was very quick, purely downhill 5 mile finish back to our car. Nothing too remarkable. Overall, some inclines that are challenging, but the two newbies with me never felt really exhausted. I would recommend going clockwise if you want to avoid a very steep climb over rocks up to Albert, but those with some experience I do endorse the counter-clockwise route. Great weekend!

hiking
Mon Oct 01 2018

This is a great 3-day hike that you can do as a loop from the Standing Indian Campground. We enjoyed hiking North to South, starting from Standing Indian, going up the Long Branch Trail to the AT, then turning right and hiking until the Kimsey Creek Trail, then back to the campground. We camped the first night at Long Branch Shelter (great water source, new shelter and picnic table), and the second night at the Beech Creek tenting area. We loved both spots. This hike isn't super strenuous, goes through pretty canopy and has some pretty vistas, especially at the top of Albert Mountain from the firetower. We carried a bear canister and had no problems. I didn't love the Kimsey Creek trail - it's very wet and slippery, with a lot of fallen trees crossing the trail. Otherwise, the rest of the hike was wonderful, with well maintained trails.

hiking
Fri Sep 07 2018

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.

Tue May 01 2018

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.

Thu Apr 05 2018

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.

backpacking
Wed Feb 28 2018

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.

backpacking
Tue Feb 20 2018

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.

Mon Jan 22 2018

Great trail with excellent views

Wed Dec 13 2017

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.

hiking
Wed Nov 29 2017

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
Thu Oct 12 2017

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
Wed Sep 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
Tue Jul 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
Sun Jul 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
Sat May 20 2017

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

backpacking
Fri Apr 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.

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