Naked Ground Trail is a 7.5 mile lightly trafficked out and back trail located near Robbinsville, North Carolina that features a river and is rated as difficult. The trail is primarily used for hiking, nature trips, and bird watching and is best used from February until November. Dogs are also able to use this trail but must be kept on leash.

Length7.5 miElevation gain2,775 ftRoute typeOut & back
Dogs on leashHikingNature tripsBird watchingForestRiverViewsWildflowersWildlifeBlowdown
Description
Waypoints (0)

Take the lower loop of Joyce Kilmer Memorial Loop Trail (#43) counter clockwise until you see the sign for Naked Ground Trail (#55). Once you make it to the top you can either go left to Stratton Bald or right to the lookout. From the lookout follow the Jenkins Meadow Trail to make it back to Joyce Memorial.

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Reviews (31)
Photos (42)
Recordings (21)
Completed (56)
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Alisha Marshall
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Hiking
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Dale Chinault
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Hiking
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Patrick Hart
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Hiking

The Naked Ground gap has a nice view and would be a good campsite. Follows the creek most of the way and has plenty of easy water crossings to filter.

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Kevin Click
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Hiking
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Clifford Tatum
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HikingGreat!

Loved the Hike, my little brother, George, and I's first trip together.

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Will Pirnasch
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarGray StarGray StarGray StarGray StarJuly 2, 2020
HikingBugs

The 'Naked Grind Trail' - excuse me, 'Naked Ground', is just what you would expect - a nice enough trail that gets you 2800 feet higher. It is in good condition, and the only problem it poses is that it gets steeper and steeper towards the end. There are several switchbacks that the map doesn't show, before the ones it does show.

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John Fyfe
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HikingBlowdownBugs

I would rate the trail as moderate until you get to the last mile of the climb. There were a couple of pretty good size trees down across the trail near the top and it was a little over grown in a few spots but nothing too tricky. There are several water crossings but with a little foot-eye coordination your feet will stay dry. We were hit with a drenching downpour just as we reached the top but it only lasted about 15 or 20 minutes. No rewarding view at the top due to the weather but still a very nice hike. My only complaint was the very persistent gnats that were constantly getting in my eyes and ears.

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Fernando J
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarGray StarGray StarFebruary 25, 2020
HikingBlowdownSnow

Tough trail. My recording started maybe 1 mile late but the hardest part is when you get to the switchbacks. Arrived at TH 2/21. Snowed 2 days before. 2-4”. Blown down trees every now and then. Did this in conjunction with 3 night trip. Camped at Stratton Bald night one and got down to 17 degrees. Went north on Fodderstack to Big Fat trail with a side excursion to Wildcat Falls on Slickrock creek. Very beautiful. Water color was fantastic. Headed to Hangover Lead and camped at Naked Ground. Rainy and cold last night. About 31 miles total. Hangover and Wildcat Falls were the highlights.

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Brad Compton
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarFebruary 2, 2020
Hiking

I just did this trail for my annual winter hike with my brother. Jan 31, 2020. I opted for the NGT to meet my brother at Bob Bald who started at Beech Gap and climbed to Bob Bald. He lives in TN and I live in NC. I was not prepared for this trail. My winter pack weighed 32 lbs. Everything you have read about the obstacles and difficulties are true except the reviewer who said it should be rated as moderate instead of difficult but she didn’t climb all the way to the top. The trails most difficult part is at the top. There are 8 switchbacks at the top and #6 and 7 are very long. I discovered this on the way down because I lost the trail at #6 on the way up where I followed a game trail to a stream and missed the hard right turn just prior to the stream. I started climbing to find the trail and ended up bushwhacking my way up to the Stratton Bald trail on very steep terrain with that 32 lb pack. I am 55 years old and now feel like I am 65. I used this AllTrails app to see where I was and to see which direction I was moving and eventually made it to the Stratton Bald Trail where my brother was waiting for me in 4 inches of snow. He had set up camp about 1.5 miles from that point on Bob Bald and I didn’t think I was going to make it. I did follow the intended path back down and found where I made the wrong turn at Albuquerque. The pain I was feeling on the way up played into my mistake in losing the trail. I am home now and suffering a little but I enjoyed the Naked Ground Trail!

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Megan Torman Smith
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HikingBlowdown

Going down is sure more easy-going than up! A welcome reward for all the climbing. One more chance to enjoy the cascades. Didn't need to rest at all on the way back down and made it to the car before dark

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Megan Torman Smith
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarGray StarGray StarNovember 3, 2019
HikingBlowdown

Just remember...if you think you're near the top - you're not! Haha Really though - everything a wilderness should be: trees, leaves, and waterfalls! Great views in the fall, especially as you begin the dreaded switchbacks at the end. Loved the cascades along the way. Completely desolate minus a couple that got distracted and hot off the Memorial Loop. On a sunny day, wear light layers - you will sweat, even if it's only in the 40s. Mileage was a little longer than expected but not too bad. Lovely view for a snack before continuing on

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Jamie Hill
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HikingBlowdownOff trailOver grownRocky

Very difficult trail. The length is false, it’s more like 6 miles in to the peak and then another 6 out. The second 3 miles going up we’re really intense. I fully endorse the ‘hard’ rating. Man was that view worth it though!

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Sarah Powell
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Hiking

This trail is horribly recorded... definitely not 7 miles. My wife and I reached 8 miles before the summit. We took this trail up then came down on the Stratton Bald. This trail is about 16 miles up and down just on the Naked Ground trail. The end of the assent includes a lot of zig-zag which adds a lot to your mileage. The portion from the top of the Naked Ground to the east side of the Stratton Bald is not well kept (I.e. overgrowth, lots of bees, fallen trees). Definitely a difficult trail that my wife and I were not prepared for. Not a bad trail, just very barebones. The end of the Stratton Bald also included many zig zags. For reference look at my recording but don’t look at end since we drove, and forgot it turn it off lol.

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Craig Orange
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HikingBlowdownOver grown
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Katie Schlosser
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HikingMuddyOver grownScramble

Did this early May. Very overgrown, which slowed me down significantly and left me covered in dust, spiderwebs, and poison ivy.. Opens up near the top of the ridge.

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Bobbie Itrich
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Hiking

Really liked the challenge with this hike, had fun doing a portion of it plan on going back to do it in full.

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Hanna Burnett
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Hiking

Absolutely beautiful wildflowers.

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Mica Gourley Wood
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Amazing trail in mid October!

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Loura Kumara
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Hiking

Don't come in the summer... the trail was overgrown. We spent half of the time walking into thorny plants and avoiding spider webs. We spent the entire time swatting away little flies. We're avid hikers and enjoy long strenuous hikes. We're avid hikers and enjoy long challenging hikes. I considered this hike more moderate than difficult but it was a good workout. But we didn't go all the way to the ridge because we were just tired of spiders getting caught in our hair and bugs flying into our eyes. My legs are quite scratched from the thorns. Maybe it would be less overgrown in the fall or winter. We saw some large beautiful trees, but that honestly didn't make it worth the other frustrations.

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Samantha Porter
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Hiking

This hike kicked our butts! Definitely a challenging hike with many obstacles along the way. We arrived at the Jenkins Meadows trailhead late in the afternoon and parked about .5miles from the Joyce Kilmer Memorial Forest. Upon arriving, we met a nice man from Georgia who had spent the last 5 days hiking through this forest. He had not seen anyone along the way so this area is great if you're looking for some solitude. We said goodbye to our helpful guide and began our adventure by walking the .5 miles to the joyce kilmer memorial forest. When you arrive at the trailhead, you will see two different trails. If you take the trail to your right (right before the informational sign), it will take you to the naked ground trailhead. The trail was technically closed (as of 5/15/18) but the man we had met earlier instructed us to use it anyways. Had we taken the other trail, it would have included the Joyce KIlmer Memorial trail and the HUGE hemlock trees. We took this trail when we returned and were not disappointed. Interestingly enough, the other access point to the naked ground trailhead was marked as closed too. So if you're planning to do the naked ground trail, you're gonna have to ignore the sign at some point or another. We had no issues hiking though this "closed" area. After a short distance, we veered up and to the right which put us on the naked ground trail. We hiked this relatively easy part for another hour or so until we made camp. We chose the 3rd campsite and were very pleased! The water was easily accessed and we had plenty of trees to tie up our hammocks. The one thing we struggled with was finding a tree to tie up our food. The trees in this forest are very tall with few branches. Be prepared to search for the right tree! We woke early the next morning and took our time breaking down our camp. We left our campsite around 9:30am and made our way towards Naked Ground. There were a couple more campsites along the way. They were all positioned very close to the water but i wouldn't consider these sites easily accessible to water. The last large campsite is located maybe .5-1.0 mile before the most challenging part of this trail. We passed over a few streams along the way but it wasn't until we hiked over and then up a small stream that we came to the switchbacks. This map does not include the switchbacks. As others have stated, there are 8 switchbacks. #6 and #7 are the longest of the bunch. #8 is definitely the steepest. I believe it was #5 when we encountered a fallen tree. I'm 6ft tall and struggled to find stable ground to get over this tree. Ended up wedging my hiking stick on a branch and using this as leverage to get my other leg over. Very steep drop off so this part was a little scary. Finally reached Naked Ground at 12:30pm after one of the most challenging climbs i've ever done. The view was amazing. You can even see Lake Santeetlah from the top. We set up camp here in a nice grassy patch. This was the most peaceful spot to camp. I remember waking around 4am and couldn't hear a thing. So peaceful and quiet. We were pleasantly surprised to find we had cell phone service here. As two females alone on the trail, it was comforting to have service. Allowed us to check the status of the weather too which changed our plans for the following day. WATER AT NAKED GROUND: If you're standing at the trail intersection post, go right and down to find your water source. This trail will split almost instantly and you will want to go left. Walk down this trail for maybe 5 minutes and your water source is to the right! It wasn't much but sufficed. We filled up water bottles and filtered back at the campsite. Its not deep enough to filter directly. Our plan was to hike to the Hangover and then take Jenkins Meadows down to our car. But after the grueling hike up and a forecast of rain in our future, we decided to come back the way we came. Much easier trip down! Only took up 3 hours to arrive at the Joyce Kilmer memorial. Dropped our packs here and did the Joyce Kilmer loop which felt like a breeze! There were no cars here when we started the loop. On our way back down, we passed about 8-10 people. This was the only time we encountered others! Recap: Great hike with some very challenging aspects! Water is plentiful along the way. Small stream at Naked Ground. Cell phone service at Naked ground too. Lots of trees down along the way. Be prepared to maneuver over and under large fallen trees. The fire of 2016 definitely left its mark but this forest is very lush and dense even so. Great hike but be prepared to feel the burn! If i were to do this hike again, I would consider taking jenkins meadows to Naked ground with a short detour to Hangover. We were so exhausted after those switchbacks that we didn't have the energy to include the Hangover.

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Gretchen Tongco
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Backpacking

Definitely a challenging trail. Our book said over 4100 elevation because we did Hangover loop. The Naked Ground Trail was much prettier than Jenkins Meadow. Camping on top was great, in the 20s at night & morning (end of April) and windy. Hangover is a must see & highlight of the trip. It was above my pay grade & I run marathons, but not with 30 lbs. on my back. Feeling the burn!

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Pat Helms
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarApril 29, 2018
Hiking

This is one of those trails that continues like a slow turning screw, becoming more and more resistant with each passing groove. I kept thinking about that grinning rock which greets you before the real struggles begin: "Does it know something I don’t?" There are harder trails out there, but it gets my AAA (3 Aleve) rating. Its a hike through a beautiful, old growth forest following the Little Santeetlah all the way up to the Haoe Lead where you can either turn right to visit the Hangover or go left to Statton Bald. While the trees of the NGT may lack some of the star power of those found on the Kilmer Loop below, they are spectacular nevertheless. The fire that swept through in 2016 still shows its mark, but these giants of mostly pine, poplar and red oak, shook it off as less troubling than a cloudy day! The trail itself is easy to follow and idiot proof - not necessarily a given in this combined wilderness. Here are a few updates to the info already posted: -At this time the right end of the Joyce Kilmer Loop Trail is currently closed due to fire damage. Therefore, you must go left and do a bit more of the loop before reaching the terminus of the NGT. Repairs are nearly complete and it should be open very soon, but I would recommend always doing the entire loop whenever possible. Its less than a mile long and the forest is amazing!! -No recent blow-downs to report. As Robert mentioned, there are fallen trunks here and there, but nothing that will slow you down or scratch you up much.. -The alternate trail is still abandoned and "closed." Not recommended. - I counted 8 switch-backs on the earnest ascent up the ridge to the gap. #6 and #7 are really long ones, but #8 is mercifully brief. I think that knowing the number might take some of the menace out of them. There are two other meandering switch-backs well before the serious climb, but believe me, you'll know when its time to count! - Finally, I measured the trail to be about 4.5 miles long, making it closer to a 9 mile trip instead of the 7.5 posted in the description. I think some of the difference might be found in the GPS map included here. Its seems to exclude the switch-back distances; choosing to simply zip straight up the ridge instead. Regardless of how many, these are some hard won miles that can be savored for their rewards.

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