This hike follows a scenic creek through the middle of the newly-designated Upper Bald River Wilderness in the Cherokee National Forest. Join with hikers from Smoky Mountains Hiking Club and possibly the Harvey Broome Group of Sierra Club to celebrate this long-awaited addition to the designated wilderness system in the Tellico River watershed. The trail has a gentle grade for the first several miles, then heads uphill toward the end, where it intersects with the Benton MacKaye trail near the NC state line.
We’ll hike out and back up to eight miles; however, those wishing a shorter hike can turn around earlier. There will be several creek crossings including the Bald River which is gentle and shallow. Bring water shoes, or plan on just hiking with wet boots on a pleasant early-fall day. If water levels are high due to unseasonable fall rain, we’ll consider an alternate nearby hike with fewer creek crossings. The trail has recently been maintained by the Cherokee Hiking Club trail volunteer group, so it should be quite open.
We’ll meet for carpooling at 8 a.m. at Ruby Tuesday just off Exit 81 on I-75 south at Lenoir City. We will also stop at Cherohala Skyway visitor center in Tellico Plains at about 9 a.m. The trailhead is another hour of scenic driving, the last five miles on a gravel road.