16.5 miles – Nantahala Lake to Nantahala Gorge
Having crossed the Nantahala Mountains, the North Carolina Bartram Trail skirts the northern shore of Nantahala Lake, follows the Nantahala River downstream from the lake for several miles, leaves the river to climb over Rattlesnake Knob, and then descends to the river again, at the head of the Nantahala Gorge. In doing so, the trail covers 16.9 miles, making section 6 the longest section of the Bartram Trail. Topographically, it is also one of the most level sections as it follows the river, crosses numerous creeks, and passes many spots suitable for camping. In addition, near Rattlesnake Knob the blue-blazed Piercy Creek Spur Trail leaves the main trail to follow a path down beautiful Piercy Creek Gorge.
Going from south to north, the section is divided into two parts, each with road-accessible trailheads: In addition there is a trailhead on SR 1310 for the 1.3 Piercy Creek Trail which intersects the Bartram Trail 5.8 miles north of Appletree. Nantahala Lake to Appletree Group Camp to the River Launch Site in the Nantahala Gorge (12 miles).
Appletree Group Camp to Piercy Creek Side Trail and return
NCBT Map Section: 6
Degree of Difficulty: Moderate
Approximate Time: 8 hours ~ Round Trip Mileage: 11.5 miles
Features: Abundant streams; views of Nantahala River & rhododendron thickets
Directions to Trailhead
Nantahala Lake Trailhead:
From Franklin: At the US441/US64, south of Franklin, drive 3.5 miles to Old Murphy Rd. (SR 1442), on the right and a sign to Wayah Bald. Turn right onto Old Murphy Rd. and drive 0.2 miles to Wayah Rd. for 17 miles to Nantahala Lake and look for the Bartram Trail sign on the left. Park on the graveled shoulder there. Capacity 3-4 cars.
From Wesser, drive south 8 miles on US19/74 to its junction with SR1310 at the Nantahala River Launch Site. Turn left onto SR1310 and drive 11 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.)
Appletree Group Camp:
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 17 miles, turning onto Junaluska Road (SR 1400) Follow this road 2.4 miles to Appletree Group Camp. (Park outside the campground entrance on the roadside and do not block gate; the campground road is for use by only paid campers with pre-approved reservations.)
Nantahala River Gorge (Beechertown):
From Wesser: drive south 8 miles on US 19/74 to SR1310 (Wayah Road), on the left. Turn left to park in the River Launch parking lot (locally called the put-in), immediately on the left. Workhike groups should utilize the “Overflow Parking Area” on the opposite side of US 19/74 where the parking is free of charge.
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 27 miles to the end to intersect with US 19/74. The raft Put-in parking area is on the right