Explore the most popular dogs on leash trails near Robbinsville with hand-curated trail maps and driving directions as well as detailed reviews and photos from hikers, campers and nature lovers like you.

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.

backpacking
18 days ago

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!

hiking
20 days ago

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.

hiking
1 month ago

Good: Primitive and rough trail with very few markers. Many logs, rocks and streams to traverse. Put pole down once and it sunk halfway down. Isolated and saw only one group of three. Climb was strenuous. Woods and terrain were lush and attractive and varied.

Bad: No way the mileage is right at 10.4mi. Hiked southwest side of loop to bald, the halfway point on the map and it was close to 7mi. Realized we would run out of daylight, we sprinted back to what GPS said was 13.5 mi. We didn't want to risk doing other side of loop and run into unknowns delaying us further, so made it an out and back and still ended up an hour in the dark. The view from Bald is meh.

Bottom line: Solid workout on pretty but technical trail. Plan 14mi.

nature trips
1 month ago

Great access to falls. Easy there and back.
Map says .3 Miles. Not .7

Easy to get to, nice falls for a short distance.

hiking
2 months ago

Start @ trailhead for Slickrock Creek Tr. Limited parking off Hwy 129 on south side of bridge below Cheoah Dam. Ike Tr begins after .6mi easy walk along Calderwood Lake. This is a difficult, gnarly, poorly marked & maintained wilderness trail with few blazes, eroded difficult to follow trail with deadfall, & mult creek xzings. Great fun. First .9mi a steep muddy ascent along the stream. Watch for the subtle stream xings. Ascend a ridge-trail now in decent shape & easy to follow through forest. Jxn w Hangover Tr @ 1.5mi &Yellow Hammer Gap Tr. @ 1.6. Steep descent to end @ Slickrock Creek @ 2.2mi from Ike trailhead. Unable to make a loop w Slickrock Cr Tr -water too high today for safe xing.

North of Robbinsville on Hwy 129. Small parking area @ roadside. Easy hike on good trail alongside a roaring creek. Really nice waterfall @ the end. Trail ends at top of waterfall with spur to the bottom. Recommend after a good rain.

scenic driving
3 months ago

Excellent summer afternoon drive when it’s too hot/humid out to get on a trail. Only issue is when you get caught up near a group of motorcyclists it makes it difficult to get into any of the scenic overlooks.

hiking
6 months ago

autumn was too far along, so I missed the fall colors, but with the fallen leaves that only opened the views. The trail starts off nice and peacful until you come to the spot where trails intersect. Bob Bald (54A) is up hill and fairly steep at first. At the peak with wide-open spaces you can relax and enjoy the views. I particularly liked an opening looking west, just before reaching the top.

hiking
6 months ago

Hike itself isn’t anything out of the ordinary, but Bobs bald is a solid place to relax and camp. Had a great time.

hiking
7 months ago

Crisp fall day, leaves crackling underfoot, views into the Blue Ridge and across to the Cumberlands—nice hike today. Reminds me of the lower section of Sunkota Ridge in the GSMNP—walking right along the ridge with views to either side. The ‘bald’ is now grown up with birches and beeches, but it is still a good trail for solitude and scenery.

Pretty forest, but expected better views after such an intense hike. Got a bit lost trying to follow the west side of the loop due to the condition of the trail. Couldn't find the connection between the Joyce Kilmer and Stratton Bald trails IRL or on the park map, but the Stratton Bald trail runs into a road eventually and we were able to follow that back to the trailhead.

A great trail to get the heart pumping well ! We hit the summit and came down the bartram trail we had arranged for a family member to pick us up . Took a little longer to descend than expected but no biggie just thankful for the views up top and the iPhone flash light !! Will do this route again but take more water and a good flashlight

backpacking
8 months ago

Trail was moderately difficult. Not super long, but steep in sections especially towards the beginning and end. Trail was in good condition with good footing the entire way. Beautiful old forest kept things interesting, but there were limited lookout points along the way. Water was fairly scarce, but could be found at Locust Cove about 3 miles in, and Sassafras Gap 2 miles past the summit. The summit offered great uninterrupted views, and plenty of sites to camp. No single spot with 360 degree view, but numerous vantage points to look in all directions. Descent was easier than ascent thanks to good footing, slower work than expected, because of the surprising length of the ascents while descending. Overall a decent hike, made significantly better by the terrific summit.

This trail is 5

backpacking
10 months ago

Great relaxing hike! Lots to see!

backpacking
10 months ago

Beautiful. Going back with hear to camp.

Great drive. Well maintained, clean, natural. Many places to pull off for picnicking, hiking, or just to enjoy the view.

scenic driving
11 months ago

The Cherohala has similarities to the Blue Ridge Parkway, though it is shorter and an up-and-down across the Unicoi Crest. But it is a great stretch of drive that puts you in the mountains with great views, numerous trailheads, picnic tables, and all the spectacular seasonal scenery. It is not as crowded as either the BRP or the GSMNP. Often there are lots of motorcyclists which one would expect on this type of road, but I've also had days where there were very few people at all. A nice get-away to some great destinations.

Monday, May 08, 2017

Nice hike up to the top. Not to hard.

This is a pleasant hike through an old growth forest that took me about 1-1 1/2 hours to complete. The vegetation is lovely and there's a babbling brook that runs along part of the trail. Such a pretty forest.

hiking
Sunday, June 05, 2016

The trail begins at Beech Gap off the Cherohala Skyway. There is limited parking at Beech Gap (DON'T block the gate). More parking is available a short way down the Skyway on the NC side at Unicoi Crest Overlook. From Beech Gap head down the gated road to the north to Cold Springs Gap (1.8 miles). Here several trails intersect at this point. Take Trail 54A on the right, the Bob Bald Connector. This is the new route for the Benton MacKaye Trail. Follow 54A steeply uphill to the intersection with the Stratton Bald Trail #54, 1.2 miles from Cold Springs Gap. Turn right on #54 and follow it to the top of Bob Bald (0.5 miles from intersection of #54A and #54. The trails through the bald are indistinct but go generally east toward the huge spruce trees. The trail becomes distinct just to the left of the spruces. You can turn around at this point or continue to Naked Ground and the Hangover.

scenic driving
Friday, October 30, 2015

Beautiful drive with lots of interesting stops.

Beautiful old growth.

hiking
Tuesday, August 04, 2015

This strenuous hike had plenty of obstacles including a tree top that had fallen across 20 feet of the trail within the first half mile off of Joyce Kilmer Loop. There is a sign that points the way to Jenkins Meadow Trail (faint unmarked trail to the right) or continue straight 20 feet there is a fork. If you take the left fork its a small alternate section of Naked Ground Trail that goes to a campground near the creek but I lost the trail and had to go back to the fork and take the fork to the right. I crossed multiple streams feeding into the Little Santeelah and there were too many tree trunks in trail to count. Some had to crossed over and some had to be taken from underneath. At one point I had to remove my pack to go underneath. Once you hit the switch backs you are close to the top but those switchbacks seem never ending. I did not encounter another hiker on this trail on my way up or down. About 1.2 miles into the climb I encountered a huge bolder with a natural smiley face (I included a picture). This was a very strenuous hike, all uphill and the higher I climbed the steeper it got.

I love this area. I have backpacked this section of the AT and driven through lots of beautiful scenery.

hiking
Monday, July 30, 2012

I loved this place. It was harder than most places but definitely worth biking!

I did this hike in September 2008. Beautiful sites! Very difficult the first 6 miles, but worth it. Water was a bit scarce but could be found and marked well

I love Joyce Kilmer Wilderness area and the connected Citico Creek Wilderness area. I backpack here with friends and my dog regularly. It is beautiful and not crowded. I prefer it to Smokies and other parks. Wilderness areas are not maintained like SMNP and you should definitely own the map before you get here. There is an excellent guidebook available at most outdoor stores in Knoxville that is really the best thing to take with you.

Top Recommendations

1. Big Fat Gap to Wildcat Falls (Day or Overnight) - Great campsites along Slickrock Creek. Good Swimming area at Wildcat.
2. Naked Ground Gap. Once Camped here in December when it was about 4 degree F, my friend got frostbite. What is the outdoors without a little danger! 1 to 2 days
3. Slickrock Creek Trail from the beginning to the END amazing and challenging hike. 3 days and its not a loop.
4. Go back forth between Joyce Kilmer and Citico Creek wilderness, Over 300 miles of trails I'm pretty sure! Enough to keep you busy for years!

I've seen Boar, Snakes (including one big Timber Rattlesnake), Tons of Birds, Salamanders! Lizards! Fish, and lots of signs of bears so they must be there somewhere! I hope you enjoy and help to take care of this amazing wilderness area.

In my rating, I rate the trails fair. Honestly they are hard and sometimes hard to find but that is what I like. This is wilderness not the park. Bring a map and know how to read it, bring the right stuff, and make good decisions and you will have a great time.

Don

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