A moderate 2-mile hike climbs to the summit of Siler Bald. The view is almost 360 degrees, and you’ll catch sight of several other notable peaks like Standing Indian and Brasstown Bald.
Siler Bald offers beautiful views of the surrounding Appalachian Mountains and is an approachable hike for beginners. You reach the summit after a gradual 2 mile ascent, and its proves as the perfect spot for a picnic or mid-hike break. From the summit, you can turn around, or continue on the Appalachian Trail 4.2 miles toward Winding Stair Gap.
What Makes It Great
The hike to the summit threads through North Carolina’s Nantahala National Forest, gradually gaining in elevation throughout the hike. The climbs aren’t steep, and elevation gain is only 1,000 feet throughout. In the summer, the trail is surrounded by lush, green ferns and mosses. In winter, the trees thin out, so look right to catch glimpses of the surrounding mountains.
After about 1.6 miles, the trail spills out into an open field. Turn right off the trail and climb through the grassy field for about 0.4 miles to reach the summit, which tops out at 5,216 feet. In summer, keep on the look out for blackberries in the bushes.
The view is almost 360 degrees, and in fall, the color is stunning. To the south, you can see Brasstown Bald, Standing Indian and Tray Mountain. To the north, you’ll see Wayah Bald, the radio towers of Wine Spring Bald, and to the northwest you can see Nantahala River shimmering between the mountains. As you return down the mountain, you can visit Siler Bald shelter by continuing South on the trail.
Who is Going to Love It
From Wayah Gap, the hike is more family-friendly and geared toward novice hikers. If you come from Winding Stair Gap, the hike poses more of a challenge, as you’ll log almost 2,000 feet in elevation. Many hikers opt to start at Wayah Gap, hike to Siler Bald, then hike to Wayah Gap for a 13-mile day.
Directions, Parking, & Regulations
Siler Bald is north of Franklin, North Carolina off Wayah Road. You can find a gravel parking lot just after the AT trail crossing (parking lot located on the left). Some lower-to-the-ground vehicles may not clear the steep hill into the lot, so park on the roadside. The trailhead is to the left of the parking lot and leads up to the white blazes on the AT. Parking is free, and there are picnic tables just beyond the parking lot. Unfortunately, no bathroom facilities.