A little over a decade ago I was in the midst of scouting trips for “Backpacking North Carolina: 43 Can’t Miss Trips,” when I headed west of Franklin, N.C., to look into the unlikely prospect of a loop hike consisting almost entirely of the Appalachian Trail. The AT: Isn’t it supposed to head in a straight line from Springer Mountain, Georgia, to Katahdin, Maine?
For the most part, yes. But when the AT enters the Standing Indian Basin out of Georgia, it takes advantage of the spectacular oxbow-shaped ridge that defines the basin, a ridge that passes through the Southern Nantahala Wilderness and offers miles of endless views across one of the least-developed regions of the Southeast.
Thursday, Oct. 22. We’ll stay in the Standing Indian Campground, have a fire, have dinner, get to know one another.
Friday, Oct. 23. One of the beauties of this trip is the climbing, which is some of the most mellow you’ll find with 30 pounds on your back. On Day 1 we’ll hike 5 gently inclined miles up to 5,250-foot Albert Mountain (with great views from a fire tower), then continue on to our campsite for the night, at Betty Creek Gap. Total distance: 11 miles.
Saturday, Oct. 24. We enjoy a day of undulating ridge hiking, stopping for lunch at Beech Gap, then continuing on to 5,498-foot Standing Indian Mountain. Our camp for the night is just west of the summit. Total distance: 11 miles.
Sunday. Oct. 25. We hike another mile or so on the AT before saying goodbye and heading down the Kimsey Creek Trail along its namesake creek and back to our cars. Total distance: 8 miles.
This fall hike will see the last vestiges of color along the ridge, but increasing shades of orange, yellow and red as the forest descends down the mountain. If you’ve been stymied in your attempts to get in one solid backpack trip in 2020, this is your chance.
This is a 30-mile backpack trip that reaches a peak of 5,498 feet. There is challenging ridgeline hiking in spots, a small amount of scrambling may be required atop Albert Mountain. Generally, though, Day 1 is a relatively friendly ascent that lets you get your legs under you, Day 2 is a series of ups and downs, Day 3’s hike out is downhill. We’ll put the difficulty rating at “Moderate,” based primarily on its length
- At the trailhead, as we gather, wear a mask. Once we start moving, you can take off the mask, but keep it handy should we encounter other hikers.
- Keep a distance of 6 feet from one another. It’s rare to get closer on a backpack trip, but still … .
- Do not share food or gear on this trip.
This is a small group gathering (no more than 9 people) outdoors. We always respect one another’s space on GetHiking! outings; we do it even more so now.
In addition to the guided trip, you’ll receive:
- Detailed eguide, including an overview of the trip; day-by-day breakdowns, including maps, elevation profiles and route descriptions; general information about Standing Indian and the region.
- Trip planning meeting via Zoom on Monday, Oct. 19 at 6 p.m.
- Campground camping and kickoff camp fire Thursday evening
For more on this trip, check out Trip No. 27 AT Standing Indian Loop in “Backpacking North Carolina: 43 Can’t-Miss Trips.”