Sam's Gap to Big Bald AT hike--13+ miles Moderate to Strenuous

Let's hike the AT on the NC/TN border to an awesome, spectacular 360 degree view at the top of Big Bald, elevation 5,516 ft (by comparison, Max Patch is at 4,616 feet, 900 feet lower).

Distance: 6.5 miles in and up, 6.5 miles back and down.  Or add about 1/2 mile or more if people want to check out the next bald over from Big Bald, Little Bald.

Difficulty: There is a 1,750 foot net elevation gain (start at 3,760, climb to 5,516), and a cumulative elevation climb throughout the whole hike of about 3,100 feet. There is one particularly strenuous brutal section of about 1/2 - 3/4 mile uphill.   Make sure that you have the physical ability to do this hike!!! If I haven't hiked with you before, I may e-mail you and ask about your recent hiking experience.

Dogs?: As long as your dog is friendly to both people and other dogs, feel free to bring it, but also please have a leash with you as we will hike on or near roads that may have cars on them.

Water:  It is recommended that you bring at least 2 liters of fluid per person, more if you bring a dog.

What else to bring: Lunch and/or trail snacks. We'll have lunch at the top of Big Bald. And of course wear appropriate clothing and footwear for the weather conditions which may be warmish.  It will most likely also be breezy and cool at the top of Big Bald, so bring long-sleeve clothing or a jacket to wear at the top.

Hike Description: Mostly the hike is a gradual climb on a well-marked trail through a fairly dry hardwood forest. About 2 miles in, right after the brutal section, there is a pretty meadow across which you can view our goal, the summit of Big Bald. The trail then winds up and down (and between NC and TN) for the next 3 miles through the woods, with glimpses here and there through the trees of the landscape below.  Approaching within about a mile or so of the top, there is a small spring, but the water still probably needs to be filtered. Also, that stretch is difficult because it's steep and rocky and may be slippery if wet.  At the top, there is a grassy bald with a gravel road.  Fortunately, the access to the gravel road is controlled by a locked gate.  We will spend some time at the top eating lunch and admiring the view.  (Don't be disappointed if others are up there--the Wolf Laurel community is nearby, and people drive up to the locked gate and hike less than a mile, but that kind of defeats the purpose and sense of accomplishment.)  If people are interested, we can also hike over to the next bald (named Little Bald, I think).

 

 

 

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  • Annie

    A great hike with great hikers! As always, thanks Forest.

    June 17, 2013

  • Sherrod B.

    Had a great time, despite my little fall at the end. Would love to see some pictures so please post if you have some (that includes you, Beth). Delightful group - enjoyed chatting on the trail and keeping up a good pace!

    June 17, 2013

  • Allen

    Fantastic weather and a great hike with a really great group of strong hikers. Thanks for organizing Forest.

    1 · June 17, 2013

  • Bandit

    great hike w. beautiful views and a great group. thanks forest!

    June 16, 2013

  • Kim

    One of my favorite hikes made even better by mt co-hikers and the perfect weather. Ginger, looking forward to seeing you on the trail in October!

    June 16, 2013

  • Ginger

    Great last hike before my return to the land of flat. Thanks for leading, Forest. See you guys in October!

    June 16, 2013

  • Forest D.

    Thanks to everyone who came out and made this such a special hike. Best wishes to Ginger on her trip to Chicago. Here are the hike details:

    http://connect.garmin.com/activity/329009615

    We had a 3.0 mph moving average!

    June 16, 2013

  • Sammy F.

    Sorry for defecting...think I'd rather go swimming tomorrow. See you next time!

    June 15, 2013

  • Glenn C

    I need to apologize. I wasn't aware that the guidelines had changed. I should have said nothing.

    1 · June 11, 2013

    • Tracey R.

      I'll jump in...The group has grown so much over the last five years, that is hard to keep everyone happy. There are complaints when there are no RSVP limits, there are complaints when there are limits. We've tried multiple RSVP scenarios, and yet we still have issues. I don't want to lose more organizers because of complaints. That would reduce the number of hikes that are posted even more. And yes, people are going to RSVP yes, and then not show up. Things happen, and if you are like me, you don't enjoy hiking in the rain! I also don't want to email people that don't show up. I personally feel that would take some of the fun out of it for me. We'll keep trying to figure it out. The whole point of the group is to get out and hike! I would love to hear from members that are interested in leading hikes!!

      1 · June 11, 2013

    • Frank D.

      OK!! I'm for saying it's over. Sorry I'm just the kind of person that will say what's on his mind. I think Bandit has the right idea. Just stay out of it. I believe this is a great group. Lets just get out there and have a good time.

      1 · June 11, 2013

  • Forest D.

    I will open RSVPs now since it is becoming an issue.

    June 10, 2013

    • Tracey R.

      It's not an issue. Thank you for scheduling hikes Forest! Wish I could keep up with you!!

      June 10, 2013

    • Forest D.

      Thanks Tracey.

      1 · June 11, 2013

  • Katy I.

    Think shadow can do it Deborah?

    June 10, 2013

  • Michael R.

    Don't expect people to do what's right, expect them to do what they want.

    June 10, 2013

  • Ginger

    Without getting into what is and isn't equitable, it seems a little unfair to single out Forest for "pre-loading" a few slots on a hike when other leaders also do it regularly. If I'm not mistaken, Saturday's hike in the Smokies also had four people going before the RSVPs opened.

    1 · June 10, 2013

    • Tracey R.

      Frank, again, I am just grateful for Forest to post hikes and invite others to join him. Ginger, we all do this voluntarily and if the organizer wants to add a few people on to a hike, that should be their choice. Again, I am grateful for those willing to lead the hikes.

      June 10, 2013

    • Ginger

      Me? I was actually defending Forest for putting me on the hike and giving me something to do almost every weekend. So I agree with you!

      1 · June 10, 2013

  • Debbie R.

    Hey Everyone- Kudos to Hike Leaders who are volunteering their time and efforts as organizers; there have been several hikes that have filled up that may have only a few people show up for the actual hike, so several people are left out in that respect. If a hike leader pre-signs up people that consistently (and strenuously) hike with the leader and show up every week- well, that should be their choice. There are several hiking groups in the area that offer a variety of hikes on the weekend. As there are now available slots on this hike--- go for it !!

    1 · June 10, 2013

  • Bandit

    can we just cut all the drama! it should be up to the organizers who they want to add and when. if some of you feel left out or belittled in any way, well then grow up and go take a hike!!

    1 · June 10, 2013

    • Frank D.

      Hey Bandit no disrespect but I don't think it's about feeling left out, belittled or someone needs to grow up. But are you telling us, the organizer has a right to show favoritism. He or she can go ahead and add hikers up front? Then tell the rest of the members to wait for a certain day and time to sign on? NO DRAMA!!! Just want to understand the groups policy. ;)

      June 10, 2013

    • Tracey R.

      I am just grateful that there are people willing to organize hikes and invite others to join them. I would never have gone to so many new places on my own.

      2 · June 10, 2013

  • Forest D.

    I created the hike especially for Ginger who is leaving town afterwards. I signed up some friends of hers. Others are free to sign up later.

    June 10, 2013

    • Glenn C

      Equity would be your signing up Ginger and her friends when the RSVPs open.

      June 10, 2013

    • Forest D.

      It is not an equitable world. Deal with it.

      1 · June 10, 2013

  • Glenn C

    It is, though, an effective way to discourage anyone but the select few from even wanting to join the hike.

    1 · June 10, 2013

  • Glenn C

    Doesn't seem wildly equitable to post a hike and not open RSVPs for 4 days, yet sign up 5 people immediately. Just sayin' ....

    3 · June 10, 2013

    • Forest D.

      See above

      June 10, 2013

    • Glenn C

      It's one thing to sign up people immediately and another altogether to prevent anyone else from doing so for several days.

      June 10, 2013

  • Frank D.

    Hmm!! Don't understand why there's a hold to sign up but 4 people have been allowed to do so.

    1 · June 10, 2013

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