GetHiking! Classic Escapes: Standing Indian and the AT

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In 2009, while deciding which trips to include in "Backpacking North Carolina," I was especially intrigued by the area southwest of Franklin, NC. Intrigued in part because I'd never hiked there, but also because I couldn't recall reading much about the region. I planned a visit.

I came away dumbfounded by the lack of exposure this gorgeous area had received. My scouting resulted in a 30-mile circuit hike that climbs out of Standing Indian Basin on the Long Branch Trail spends about 20 miles on the Appalachian Trail, then returns to the basin via Kimsey Creek. We will incorporate portions of this circuit in our weekend of hiking.

Saturday: We'll depart the campground and hike up Kimsey Creek to Deep Gap, where we will head north on the AT. We'll head up to 5,498-foot Standing Indian Mountain for lunch, then return on Lower Trail Ridge Trail. Total distance: just over 11 miles of moderately challenging trail.

Sunday: After a pancake breakfast, we'll head up the Long Branch Trail to the AT, hike north to Glassmine Gap, and return down a forest service road. About 6 miles.

The campground sits at a wide spot on Kimsey Creek that, after an 11-mile hike on a summer's day, makes for one swell place to cool off.

The weekend includes two days of hiking, two nights of camping, Sunday breakfast, a swag bag with gear and snacks, and an eguide, including maps, for the hikes. Cost is $65.