Bartram Trail Advice

  • Check out the great YouTube videos about the Bartram Trail. Evan’s Backpacking Videos and Unfettered Footsteps are my favorite series.

  • If you are going to watch just one video, Unfettered Footsteps’ advice was the most helpful for me.

  • Buy the Bartram Trail North Carolina map. I was cobbling it together with multiple National Geographic Trails Illustrated maps which I already owned, but they did not show the new section just south of Franklin, and they did not have an elevation profile. I ended up taking photos of the elevation profile which was posted at a kiosk at a trailhead. I heard there may be a Georgia map soon, or maybe they’ll be combined? Whatever the situation with Georgia, it’s worth the $17 for the North Carolina map.

  • Until recently, the two states had separate online presences and now they are combined here: https://blueridgebartram.org/the-bartram-trail/ which is great. Check the website for more information. This is a huge step forward.

  • I like a detailed guidebook, but the Bartram Trail guides turn it up to 11. They are printed on thick paper, so they are heavy. My dad copied the relevant pages and printed them for me on lightweight paper (thanks Dad!) and I probably saved a pound. The guides have more information than anyone would ever need, but I found them useful for finding water and campsites.

  • Much of the Bartram Trail does not have good places to pull off and camp, so having some idea of where the terrain would allow camping was very helpful. I circled these ahead of time so I could find them at a glance while I was hiking.

  • I also highlighted each water source ahead of time so I could see them easily while hiking. Because seriously, the guidebook has so much text crammed into it that finding the info you need while hiking can be a challenge.

  • Everyone says Georgia is much easier than North Carolina. They are right.

  • Resupplying in Franklin is a delight. Franklin as a trail town is pretty much ideal in terms of what it offers and where it is located on the trail. There are a lot of options for lodging, but of course I recommend Chica and Sunsets if you can get a spot. They are a class act. Could not be a better hostel.

  • For Franklin and the northern terminus (whether you take the AT south to the Nantahala Outdoor Center or north to Stecoah Gap) take advantage of the Appalachian Trail services which exist. Most trails don’t have these options. Enjoy them.

  • I skipped the Franklin roadwalk and did not see a compelling reason to do it. The guidebook says don’t do it. Choose your own adventure.

  • Don’t underestimate the climb from Wallace Branch to Wayah Bald. The final part is the hardest, so if you’re low on water, you’re really gonna hurt. There are garbage facilities at Wayah Bald, so you could bring a couple extra bottles of water and toss them at the top.

  • Don’t underestimate how busy the Appalachian Trail is. I camped just before the junction, and I was really grateful. The flat area at the BT/AT junction is closed for rehabilitation and the camping area near the tower was swarming with people. Do not recommend.

  • The shooting range sounds really terrifying, but I didn’t get shot, so… hopefully you won’t either. I did hike there on a perfect weekend morning, so during the week there is likely less shooting.

  • Don’t underestimate the north side of Jarrett Bald. Whether descending or ascending, it’s a beast.

  • The restaurant on the short roadwalk near Nantahala Lake was super hiker friendly and has outdoor seating so your stinky selves can enjoy your meal without befouling the inside air. They have seasonal hours, but you can check them out ahead of your hike: https://www.visitlakesend.com/dining

  • The Phillips 66 station appeared to be permanently closed in April 2022. Shrug. If you really needed something, Lakes End (above) has a small store, but I didn’t go into it.

  • Check out the Concrete Ford area on Google Maps before you get there so you can find a way around if it’s impassible. Maybe this is a common problem these days. Maybe I am just lucky.

  • From the top of Rattlesnake Knob to Ledbetter Creek, there was nowhere I would feel comfortable camping.

  • There is no Bartram Trail sign at Cheoah Bald, but the view is perfect and it’s worth it.

  • Don’t wait as long as I did to hike the Bartram Trail.