7.4 miles – Wayah Bald to Nantahala Lake
Having climbed due west from Franklin up Trimont Ridge to Wayah Bald and the crest of the Nantahala Mountains, the North Carolina Bartram Trail, in Section 5, follows the mile-high ridge which connects Wayah Bald, 5342’, and Wine Spring Bald, 5440’. The trail then drops out of the Nantahalas on McDonald Ridge down to Nantahala Lake, at 3013’, passing through Sawmill Gap on the way. Section 5 of the trail is largely downhill, becoming very steep the last 2.5miles to the lake. Going from east to west, Section 5 is divided into three parts, each with road-accessible trailheads: Wayah Bald to Wine Spring Bald (1.8 miles); Wine Spring Bald to Sawmill Gap (2.2 miles); and Sawmill Gap to Nantahala Lake (3.5 miles).
Wayah Bald to Wine Spring Bald and return
NCBT Map Section: 5
Degree of Difficulty: Easy
Approximate Time: 2 hours ~ Round Trip Mileage: 3.6 miles
Features: High elevation forest ridges where Bartram Trail meets the Appalachian Trail
Directions to Trailhead
Wayah Bald Trailhead:
From Franklin: From the US441/US64 junction south of Franklin, drive west on US64 for 3.5 miles to Old Murphy Rd. (SR1442), on the right, and a sign to Wayah Bald. Turn right on Old Murphy Rd. and drive 0.2 miles to Wayah Rd. (SR1310), on the left. There is a service station at this intersection. Follow Wayah Rd. 9.0 miles (passing the LBJ Job Corps Center on the way) up to Wayah Gap and the graveled Wayah Bald Rd. (FR69), which is on the right. Take Wayah Bald Rd. and drive 4.5 miles to the top of the mountain. Parking capacity: 20 cars or more.
Sawmill Gap Trailhead:
From Franklin: from the US441/US64 junction south of Franklin, drive west on US64 for 3.5 miles to Old Murphy Rd. (SR1442), on the right, and a sign to Wayah Bald. Turn right on Old Murphy Rd. and drive 0.2 miles to Wayah Rd. (SR1310), on the left. There is a service station at this intersection. Follow Wayah Rd for approximately 10.7 miles to FR 711. Turn right on FR711 and drive 2.5 miles to Sawmill Gap. Park in the paved pullout on the left.
Nantahala Lake Trailhead:
From Franklin, follow the Wayah Bald Trailhead directions (above) to Wayah Gap, and the intersection of FR69. Continue on SR1310 for another 8.3 miles to Nantahala Lake and look for the Bartram Trail sign on the left. Park on the graveled shoulder there; room for 3-4 cars. The trail goes straight up the road bank on the right.
From Wesser area, drive south 8.5 miles on US74 to its junction with SR1310 at the Nantahala River Boat Launch. Turn left onto SR1310 and drive about 10 miles to Nantahala Lake. Look for the Bartram Trail sign, on the right, just after the road crosses over Wine Spring Creek in a sharp curve.)