Explore the most popular walking 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
22 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
24 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.

I absolutely loved Joyce Kilmer!! The hike was beautiful and the trees were breath taking. There was something magical about this place. The hike itself wasn't challenging but still felt very rewarding.

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.

Easy and pleasant!

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.

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
7 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.

Just the right amount of trail to work up a little sweat. There weren't any overlooks but the large trees were definitely worth seeing.

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.

This is an easy hike. Although it is not close to anything. maybe that is why it has those gorgeous large 400 years old trees. It is really worth to see!.
There was some fire damage, so part of the trail is officially closed, but there is really only some handrails burned down. But the upper loop where most large tree can be found had no fire damage.

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

This trail is pretty easy and a nice one for the family. It's a little over two miles and runs through a babbling creek. Grand trees and rocks. It's a stunner. It's a leisurely type trail.

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

Quiet morning at the end of July. Only hikers on he trail. Nice 400 year old trees, many large Tulip Poplars.

Beautiful trail with amazing trees mostly on upper section. Easy for kids and adults. Great river to cool off in afterwards.

backpacking
10 months ago

Great relaxing hike! Lots to see!

Muddy today but worth the time and energy. Trees are very cool to see.

backpacking
10 months ago

Beautiful. Going back with hear to camp.

I first walked this trail when I was a boy in 1960s. It is great to see the giants still standing in this special sanctuary. Glad to see the fire damage didn't reach the upper loop. Huge poplars that have withstood centuries of wear and tear help humble us short-lived little folk. I encourage everyone to make the journey (which is also delightful across the Cherohala Skyway for us in Tennessee) to see these ancient wonders while they are here.
A couple other notes. There are nice bridges on this trail; the NFS did well. Also lots of birds--saw and heard some wonderful warblers.

Nice walk

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

It was wonderful!

Monday, May 08, 2017

Nice hike up to the top. Not to hard.

hiking
Monday, April 17, 2017

This was a beautiful trail with grandfather old growth trees. I saw my first rattlesnake in the wild on this loop trail. It was amazing!

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