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2015 Bartram Trail Conference

December 28th, 2014 by NC BTS

Members of the Bartram Trail Conference visiting the site of Cowee, north of Franklin, North Carolina. (Credit: Bartram Trail Conference)

Members of the Bartram Trail Conference visiting the site of Cowee, north of Franklin, North Carolina. (Credit: Bartram Trail Conference)

From our friends at the Bartram Trail Conference:

The 2015 meeting of the Bartram Trail Conference will be held on the shores of William Bartram’s beloved St. Johns River in Palatka, Florida. John and William Bartram first paddled up the St. Johns River in December of 1765 and we will convene there almost on the exact date. The dates for the conference are October 16–18, 2015. The conference will be held in the Ravine Gardens State Park and Palatka’s riverfront park. This promises to be a very exciting conference.

More details will be available here in March of 2015. Plan on signing up early, there will be a limit to attendees. You may contact Sam Carr at 386-937-3901 or with questions.

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Join us for an afternoon wildflower hike, May 4, 2014

March 24th, 2014 by NC BTS

Dr. Dan Pittillo, Professor Emeritus, Western Carolina University

Dr. Dan Pittillo, Professor Emeritus, Western Carolina University

The NCBTS is sponsoring a wildflower hike Sunday afternoon 2:00-6:00 p.m. May 4 to be led by Dr. Dan Pittillo.

There will still be some later Trilliums flowering and the “flaming yellow to orange to red-orange” azaleas should be making their show.

Join us for an afternoon hike between the Jones Gap to Whiterock Gap on the NC Bartram Trail!

If you would like to join, please email:

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Come join the NCBTS at the April Fool’s Trail Days in Franklin

March 24th, 2014 by NC BTS

The NC Bartram Trail Society will have a booth Saturday, March 29 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the April Fools Hiking Day in Franklin. Come join us or help maintain booth!

Click here to read the full schedule of events at the April Fool’s Trail Days in Franklin, NC.

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Nantahala Hiking Club and NC Bartram Trail Society Team Up to Celebrate National Trails Day

May 10th, 2013 by NC BTS

Wayah Bald Tower

Two local trail organizations will join together to celebrate National Trails Day on June 1. The Nantahala Hiking Club and Bartram Trail Society have announced a hike for that day.

Hikers will begin at Wayah Bald at ten o’clock and follow the trail to Wine Springs Bald. This section of trails is shared by the Appalachian Trail and Bartram Trail and is three miles round trip.

Dr. Dan Pittillo, a botanist and a founder of the Bartram Trail will lead the hike.

A special feature will be a “Kids Hike,” led by Mary Bennett, Appalachian Trail Community Ambassador with the Nantahala Hiking Club. Ms. Bennett will discuss tips for planning hikes with families. Included in the Kids Hike will be such activities as a “Nature in Living Color Search,” writing a group Place Poem, and “A Fistful of Sounds.”

Hikers may continue a few miles farther to either Sawmill Gap (on the Bartram Trail) or Wayah Crest (on the Appalachian Trail).

The Bartram Trail Society has for the last 35 years built and maintained the Bartram Trail across almost 80 miles of mountains between the Georgia line and Cheoah Bald. The Nantahala Hiking Club, the Franklin based Appalachian Trail maintaining club, maintains sixty miles of the Appalachian Trail across Macon County, sponsors hikes every weekend, provides hiking support to local schools, and supports Franklin, NC as a designated Appalachian Trail Community.

National Trails Day, sponsored by the American Hiking Society annually brings together outdoor enthusiasts across the country. The celebration encourages all Americans to connect with local outdoor clubs, businesses, community groups, and parks and recreation departments as well as federal land managing agencies to experience, appreciate, and share the natural places they cherish.

More than 2,000 nationwide events will take place.

“Twenty years ago, American Hiking built National Trails Day around the idea that for one day each year we should come together outdoors and give back to our favorite trails. Since then, people from all walks of life have been coming out in increasing numbers on NTD to celebrate our trails and the great outdoors,” said Gregory Miller, American Hiking Society president.

The event is open to the public. Hikers are urged to bring their lunches and water and to wear good hiking shoes. The trail is moderate to easy in difficulty.

For more information, contact Jim Kautz of the Bartram Trail Society (jrkautz [at], 828-524-6593) or Bill Van Horn of the Nantahala Hiking Club (828-369-1983).

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National Trails Day Celebration: June 1

January 14th, 2013 by NC BTS

Wayah Bald Tower

Hike with members of both the Bartram Trail Society and the Nantahala Hiking Club to celebrate National Trails Day.

The BTS is partnering with the Nantahala Hiking Club to sponsor a hike on National Trails Day, June 1, 2013.

We will meet at Wayah Bald at 10:00 a.m. and hike to Wine Spring Bald for lunch. The route is about two miles long and descends less than a thousand feet before climbing a thousand feet to Wine Spring Bald. Those who want a longer hike may proceed another two miles (downhill) to Sawmill Gap.

This event is the first organized collaboration between the two clubs in recent years. The Nantahala Hiking Club maintains the Appalachian Trail in southwestern North Carolina and conducts numerous hikes each year. The trail from Wayah Bald to Wine Springs Bald is part of the only route shared by both the Appalachian Trail and the Bartram Trail.

Wayah Bald two of three prominent peaks in the Nantahala that scholars think may be the place that William Bartram described asthe most elevated peak; from whence I beheld with rapture and astonishment, a sublimely awful scene of power and magnificence, a world of mountains piled upon mountains.” The third candidate for Bartram’s “most elevated peak” is Burningtown Bald.

The American Hiking Society has sponsored National Trails Day on the first Saturday in June each year since 1993. For more information, see

Directions:  From Franklin NC
From intersection of U.S. Hwy-64 W and U.S. Hwy-23/441 North in Franklin take Hwy-64 W towards Murphy, NC for 3.8 miles to “Old Murphy Rd.(SR 1448) on your right (see Wayah Bald Sign).
After you take the exit, continue down the hill for just under 0.2 miles to Wayah Road (SR 1310) on your left (“Loafers Glory” gas station will be at the intersection of Old Murphy Rd. and Wayah Rd, so you’ll know where to turn).
Continue on Wayah Rd. for 9.1 miles where you’ll find yourself at FR (Forest Road) #69 on the right, at Wayah Gap. Take this gravel road for another 4.4 miles to the Wayah Bald Area and Lookout Tower..

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NCBTS helps Mountains To Sea Trail explore options

December 9th, 2012 by NC BTS

(Source: The Franklin Press)

North Carolina’s Mountains-to-Sea Trail may lead travelers through Macon County.

Conservation and trail group representatives and citizens met Monday to investigate a possible alternate route of the State’s Mountains-to-Sea Trail that would pass through the Needmore Game Lands bordering Macon and Swain counties.

[…]Representatives from The Wilderness Society, the NC Bartram Trail Society and FMST joined the Monday hike that traversed a five-mile stretch of the proposed route through Needmore from Sawmill Creek to Brush Creek in Swain County.

[…]The proposed route through Macon County could continue along existing trails and old roadbeds through the 4,500-acre Needmore Tract which winds along the Little Tennessee River (North Carolina purchased Needmore in 2004 to protect it as state game lands).

Read the full article at The Franklin Press website.

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Celebrating Thirty-five Years of the Bartram Trail at the Macon County Library & Cowee Mound

August 18th, 2012 by NC BTS

Dr. Dan Pittillo, Professor Emeritus, Western Carolina University

Dr. Dan Pittillo, Professor Emeritus in botany at Western Carolina University, will help the North Carolina Bartram Trail Society celebrate its 35th anniversary with an illustrated presentation on “The Natural History of the Southern Appalachians” on September 29 at the Macon County Library. Members of the society invite all interested persons to join them in this community celebration.

Dan has been involved in the planning, building, and maintenance of the trail since its beginning in 1977; he is the only remaining member of the original Board and the only one surviving who participated in the creation of the Trail.

The meeting starts at 10 a.m. After Dr. Pittillo’s presentation and lunch, participants will travel across the Little Tennessee River to visit the Cowee Mound, site of the Cherokee town that William Bartram visited for several days in 1775.

Attendees may bring their own lunches or may reserve a box lunch for $6.00 by using the reservation form below or by calling Meg Petty at 828-371-0633.

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Jim Kautz presents “What I Learned Following William Bartram Across the South” October 14th

October 4th, 2010 by NC BTS

Thursday, 14 October 2010 at 7 p.m. at the Macon County Library in Franklin, NC

Illustrated presentation: “What I Learned Following William Bartram Across the South ” by Jim Kautz sponsored by the NC Bartram Trail Society.

Footprints Across the South: Bartram’s Trail Revisited

A walk, drive, or canoe trip along the routes taken by William Bartram, America’s first native-born naturalist, provides a unique view of what has happened in the southland since the nation was founded. Jim Kautz took such a journey.

Bartram explored little-known areas from North Carolina to Florida and from Georgia to Louisiana just prior to the American Revolution. His eloquent descriptions, particularly his book Travels, described the frontier of the American southland at the moment of the nation’s birth. He wrote in such detail that we may compare our world with the landscape of the infant nation.

Jim Kautz sought out historical, environmental, and cultural occurrences along Bartram’s pathway. In the course of five years, he traveled 15,000 miles across seven states. He tramped trails, paddled and motored rivers and streams, and interviewed dozens of residents, scientists, and community leaders in revisiting Bartram’s trail.

In Footprints Across the South: Bartram’s Trail Revisited, Kautz shares the results of his quest. “Bartram’s writings give us a benchmark,” he says. “I found a few spots that have changed little in 230 years. A modern traveler can easily imagine the Cherokee town of Cowee in quiet pastureland and rows of corn beside the Little Tennessee River. Cypress swamps are returning to their former grandeur in Florida and Alabama; Bartram’s word picture of Georgia’s Falling Creek Falls could describe the scene today.”

“On the other hand, plantations of slash pines have replaced forests of oaks and flotillas of invasive water hyacinths choke waters he sailed. Environmentalists struggle to restore the health of lands and streams that Bartram found lush and thriving.”

Reviewers of the book have said:

“. . . delightful tour of the South, connecting the past and the present . . .”

. . . a fascinating book that puts a historical character in context for the modern reader.”

“ . . . this book takes a new approach, looking at the changes that have occurred in the places familiar to (William Bartram).”

“ . . . more than a travelogue, more than a biography, more than a history. It puts the past alongside the present, showing how America has changed since Bartram’s travels and how so many of us have lost touch with the history of the land and the people who once lived there.”

Born in Washington, D.C., Jim Kautz has lived in the south for more than forty years while teaching at three colleges and working in five states. He had conducted archaeological explorations in the Middle East and America when William Bartram’s Travels caught his attention. He is past editor of The Traveller, the newsletter of the Bartram Trail Conference and a member of the Board of Directors of the North Carolina Bartram Trail Society.

Footprints Across the South: Bartram’s Trail Revisited is published by the Kennesaw State University Press.

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NCBTS Map in the Asheville Citizen-Times

June 25th, 2010 by NC BTS

Source: Asheville Citizen-Times

When Tim Warren hikes the 80-mile-long Bartram Trail, hidden in Nantahala National Forest of Macon and Swain counties, he sees a sweeping resource, rich in history, biological diversity and scenic splendor. He sees a mighty trail, worthy of seven maps. But who wants to carry seven hiking maps?

For the past two decades, though, anyone hiking the entire trail had to have one map for each of the seven sections of the trail that starts on the North Carolina-Georgia border south of Highlands, snaking through woods, over peaks and across streams, ending at Cheoah Bald.

But now, the N.C. Bartram Trail Society has created one giant map. The Interpretive Hiking Map of North Carolina’s Bartram Trail is a full-color, 28-by-36-inch, two-sided map available for sale after July 1.


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New NC Bartram Trail map published

June 18th, 2010 by NC BTS

NC Bartram Trail Society President Tim Warren of Brevard announces that after a three year effort, a new Bartram Trail map has been created, published and is now available!

The new “Interpretive Hiking Map of the NC Bartram Trail” is a full-color, two-sided map measuring 28 x 36. Features included on the map are: an overview of the 75+ miles of hiking trail and the topographic features it traverses; elevation profiles of the trail; USGS topographic contour lines at 50 foot intervals; scale: 1:35,000; GPS coordinates and driving directions to BT trailheads from area towns and EMS assistance info. The Appalachian Trail (from Wayah Bald to the Cheoah Bald area) and the Appletree area loop trails are also shown.

The map also features mile by mile readings for both north-to-south hiking and south-to-north hiking, locations of scenic vistas, waterfalls, historic markers, picnic areas and campgrounds. But the feature likely to become a favorite for natural and cultural history enthusiasts are the native flora and fauna notes from along the trail, information about William Bartram’s historic visit to the area and notes about the non-profit NC Bartram Trail Society.

National Forest recreation users in mind when creating the new map were day hikers, backpackers, exercise runners, nature photographers, wildflower enthusiasts, and area history buffs. The NCBTS hopes this attractive, colorful and informative map will excite folks enough to plan a recreation outing or hike in their national forests and gain many years of enjoyment from the map.

Primary funding for the map was through a grant from the Blue Ridge National Heritage  Substantial donations were received from the Highlands Biological Foundation, The Wilderness Society, Nantahala Outdoor Center, private donors and the BTS membership.

The grant was written primarily to fund the NCBTS’s desire to provide free trail maps to educational institutions and conservation groups. Over one thousand free maps have already been distributed to WNC schools, public and college libraries, summer camps, chambers of commerce, visitor centers and other groups. Maps were also distributed to nature centers, history museums and botanical societies around the state and region.

The new map is available for sale (after July 2) at area USFS Ranger Stations and area outfitters. It may also be ordered online at by using Pay Pal or mailing a check for $12 (includes postage) to:

NC Bartram Trail Society
P. O. Box 968
Highlands, NC  28741

The NC Bartram Trail is a National Recreation Trail and is for foot travel only. It is not open to horseback riding, ORVs or mountain bikes. The trail is maintained by a small group of trail volunteers who typically meet on the second Saturday of each month.

For more information about the map, the trail or the BTS, contact Ina Warren at

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