Official Website of the North Carolina Bartram Trail Society


Section 6 Nantahala RiverWhen hiking the Bartram Trail, proper preparations for the type of hike you are taking (day, overnight or multiple days) will greatly influence the quality and safety of the hike and could well prevent serious injury to you and your fellow hikers.Here are some things to consider while preparing for your hike:

  • Let someone know where you are going and when you expect to be back. That way, if you experience any difficulties on the hike, someone will initiate action to find you.
  • Take a map and guide book of the trail and a compass, even for just a day hike. On a number of occasions a “short hike” has become at least an overnight adventure and at worst turned into a search and rescue mission. And the compass won’t do much good if you don’t know how to use it. Please take a navigation/map reading course or research the topic on the internet.
  • Always take sufficient water for the hike and/or carry a water purifying system. Check maps and/or guide books for water source locations. Always purify any water obtained on the trail. You should not assume that any water gathered from a stream or spring is safe to drink without treatment. The best way to avoid dehydration is to drink water frequently, so don’t under estimate the amount you need.
  • The weather can change very quickly in the mountains. Even in the summer take a light rain jacket or poncho (or plastic garbage bag which can be made into an emergency poncho). A sudden (and very cold) rain shower can leave your clothes soaked. Hyperthermia can occur at a far higher air temperature than most people realize.
  • In colder weather bring a hat or headgear and clothing that can be “layered” vice a single heavy coat. Cotton clothing is not recommended at any time of the year since it retains moisture and will cool your body quickly. Synthetics, wool and “breathable”, waterproof fabrics are best.
  • There are stinging insects in the woods. If you are allergic to bee/wasp stings, please bring some of the Over-The-Counter medications that minimize the reaction to the sting or if you are severely allergic, bring your own Epi-pen or other physician prescribed medication.
  • Especially in the fall, with those beautiful leaves covering just about everything on the trail be alert for roots and rocks in the trail that may be hard to see. In years of heavy acorn and other mast crops, these nuts, when covered by a leaf layer, can be like walking on ball bearings. So use caution, especially on steep sections of the trail to protect yourself from strains, sprains, or broken bones.
  • With the more widespread coverage from recently installed towers, there are locations on the trail where cell phone communications are possible. This could, however, be dependent upon your particular phone, your service provider, etc. Don’t forget that the first thing to do if you’ve got a serious problem is to dial 911 for help…or at least try to do so. The best signal will be obtained on mountain tops and along ridgelines. Having a member of your hiking party with knowledge of survival skills, first aid and CPR is always a “good thing”.
  • The NCBTS is not sufficiently staffed to provide any shuttle service to/from any of the Bartram Trail trailheads. You will need to plan an “out and back” hike if you have a single vehicle or plan a “loop” hike using some of the trails that connect to the Bartram Trail to make that loop back to your starting point.

You may get an idea of the various hikes available on the NC portion of the BT by looking at the Hike the Trail page.For the hikes available on the Georgia portion of the BT, please refer to the “Bartram Trail Guide” for Georgia by Ray and Skove, which is discussed on the Maps and Guides page of this website.

PLEASE NOTE: The NC Bartram Trail Society strongly recommends obtaining the available trail maps and associated Guides. The BT crosses complicated terrain. Although the trail is blazed (marked) with yellow vertically-oriented rectangles in NC and yellow diamonds in Georgia, it is important to know where you are on the trail and where you are going. You need to know the location of possible ingress and egress paths/roads, especially in case of emergency.The Bartram Trail is constructed for foot traffic only. Use of off-road vehicles, ATVs, bicycles, horses, pack animals, etc., is prohibited on the trail. The pathway, water/erosion control systems, steps and cleared area to each side of the pathway are not appropriate for anything but foot traffic. Use of wheeled vehicles, whether human-powered or fossil-fuel powered, is particularly damaging to the pathway.Leave No Trace Logo

HIKERS: Please help preserve the beauty of the Bartram Trail. Observe the principles of Leave No Trace and carry out all trash and leave no trace of your presence.

TELL US ABOUT THE TRAIL: The Bartram Trail Society will appreciate any suggestions you have for trail improvements. Please send these suggestions through our contact form. If you are hiking the Bartram Trail and encounter any conditions that need to be corrected (e.g., eroded pathway, tree blow-downs across the path, landslides, etc) please send a report on that condition via our contact form. That information will be passed onto the Trail Maintenance Team so that corrective action can be initiated.