McDonald Ridge (via Wayah Gap)

Location: Western North Carolina
Trip Starts: Wayah Gap
Trip Ends: McDonald Ridge
Total Distance: 7 miles
Hike Type: One-Way, Shuttle Hike
Hike Difficulty: Moderate to Difficult
Trails Used: Appalachian, Bartram
Trail Traffic: Moderate to Heavy
Trip Type: Day or Overnight Hike
More Information:

Nantahala National Forest
Wayah Ranger District
Franklin, NC 28734


The Nantahala National Forest is the largest of the four national forests in North Carolina and is the the second wettest region in the country – after the Pacific Northwest. The word “Nantahala” is a Cherokee word meaning “Land of the Noonday Sun.” In some spots, the sun only reaches the floors of the deep gorges in the middle of the day. The National Forest has 531,270 acres with elevation ranging from 5,800 feet at Lone Bald in Jackson County to 1,200 feet in Cherokee County along the Hiwassee River.

This hike to McDonald Ridge starts at Wayah Gap and climbs northbound on the Appalachian Trail over 2 miles and 1000+ feet to Wine Spring Bald. Here there is a spring to the left of the A.T., and campsites located on both sides of the trail. Wine Spring Bald is also an intersection point for the yellow blazed Bartram Trail which climbs McDonald Ridge to meet the Appalachian Trail at this point. At 5400 feet, the “Bald” is the highest point on the entire Bartram Trail. Don’t expect spectacular views from Wine Spring Bald, however, since it has been overtaken by trees in recent years. But you can venture 0.5 miles down the Bartram Trail for views from a field at McDonald Ridge.

GPS Coordinates:

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