90 Second Escape: Backpacking the North Carolina Bartram Trail

Monday — never an easy time for the outdoors enthusiast. After a weekend of adventure, returning to the humdrum work-a-day world can make one melancholy. To help ease the transition, every Monday we feature a 90 Second Escape — essentially, a 90-second video of a place you’d probably rather be: a trail, a park, a greenway, a lake … anywhere as long as it’s not under a fluorescent bulb.

Today’s 90-Second Escape: Backpacking the North Carolina Bartram Trail.

According to the U.S. Forest Service, the half-million-acre Nantahala National Forest has more than 600 miles of trail. From my experience on perhaps half of them, none are easy, least of all the 79 miles that make up the North Carolina Bartram Trail. The Bartram Trail was established by the N.C. Bartram Trail Society to honor the work of William Bartram, who spent four years (1773-1777) exploring the Southeast documenting the flora and fauna of “the New World.” The route (there are Bartram Trails in South Carolina, Georgia, Florida and Alabama as well) roughly approximates the route Bartram took on his travels (documented in his book, “Travels”).

The trail is well-marked, easy to follow and the tread itself is in good repair. Those are the only “easy” things about the North Carolina Bartram Trail. When it’s not rising precipitously it is dropping precipitously. There are few opportunities to recover, save for a spot or two where the trail must follow a road. The last 6 miles, up Ledbetter Creek to 5,049-foot Cheoah Bald, is especially challenging, gaining more than 3,000 vertical feet.

Take a few seconds — 90, to be exact — and escape with us along the North Carolina Bartram Trail. Then visit our sister site, nchikes.com, for a trip report and planner on the 42 miles of Bartram Trail between Wallace Branch and Cheoah Bald.

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