The North Carolina section of the Appalachian Trail (AT) runs 88 miles along the western border of the state. From the south, the trail enters North Carolina at Bly Gap and runs north to north of Roan High Knob at US19E. Starting with the Nantahala section in the south, there are numerous 4,000 to 5,000 foot peaks with awesome vistas. Moving north, the AT runs through the Yellow Creek – Wauchecha – Cheoah Mountain areas with steep elevation changes. Next, 70 miles of ridgeline trail runs through the Great Smoky Mountain National Park. The final stretch is in the Pisgah National Forest. Overall, the elevation ranges from 1,725 feet up to 5,498 feet.
The best time of year to experience this section of the Appalachian Trail is from mid-May through October. Mid-May in North Carolina? Why not start earlier? Well, there have been many snow storms throughout April in North Carolina believe it or not. Some of their worst winter weather is in April. These storms have left plenty of thru-hikers stranded and seeking shelter. Just ask the folks the Nantahala Outdoor Center how many times they been at full capacity in April with backpackers ditching the trail. Matter of fact, the NOC area is a common bailing point for would-be thru-hikers who find the AT just too much for them, especially if they started too early!
The Appalachian Trail, commonly known by backpackers as the AT, is a popular 2,167 mile thru-hike along a wilderness footpath. The Appalachian Trail is a registered National Scenic Trail that winds along the crest of the Appalachian Mountains from Georgia in the south to Maine in the north. More specifically, the AT runs through the scenic wooded and pastoral lands of fourteen eastern US states, stretching from Springer Mountain, Georgia, in the south to Mount Katahdin, Maine, in the north. The Appalachian Trail route is more than 99 percent protected by either federal ownership, state ownership or designated rights-of-way from local land owners.