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Hike the Appalachian Trail to Siler Bald near Franklin, NC, and score some exceptional, 360-degree views from a sun-drenched, grassy summit.

georgia hiking trails: 2-4 miles 3.6 miles
(round trip)
? Your mileage may vary! Accuracy of your GPS device, weather conditions, and stops along your route will affect your own recorded distance.
georgia hiking trails: moderaterelatively
moderate
?Our difficulty estimate, based on distance, terrain, elevation change, & ease of wayfinding. May vary daily due to weather, trail reroutes, downed trees, etc.
georgia hiking trails: dog-friendly Dog-
friendly
?Leashed dogs are allowed on this trail. We’ve loved hiking this route with our trail-loving Labrador Retrievers! Check out more of our favorite dog-friendly trails near Asheville for a great hike with your pup.

LOCATION:on the Appalachian Trail near Franklin, NC

GEAR: Osprey Stratos 24 Backpack, our hiking gear list and Canon 6D Camera

WEAR: Our ultra-soft Asheville Trails shirts and mountain logo hats

OFFICIAL MAP: Nat Geo 785 Trails Illustrated Map

RATED: 4.7/5 (3 reviews)

North Carolina’s mountain balds are simply exceptional: sun-drenched summits topped in golden grasses, rocky outcrops, and wildflowers by the millions. And Siler Bald is no exception. The mountain’s broad summit, located just off the Appalachian Trail near Franklin, NC, offers excellent 360-degree panoramas from its domed, grassy summit. It’s a gorgeous, view-packed hike, a moderate climb from nearby Wayah Gap through a beautiful hardwood forest – and one of our western North Carolina favorites.

Siler Bald from Wayah Gap on the Appalachian Trail

Fresh breezes. Abundant sunshine. Stunning views of the surrounding mountains and the Nantahala National Forest. Pack a picnic. Toss a frisbee. Catch a stunning sunrise or sunset. Stargaze. Or just relax and soak up the generous, gorgeous views at the summit.

Hike the Appalachian Trail to Siler Bald near Franklin, NC, and score some exceptional, 360-degree views from a sun-drenched, grassy summit. #hiking #trailrunning #backpacking #asheville #nc #northcarolina #travel #outdoors #adventure

Siler Bald via Wayah Gap: the hike

The hike departs from the picnic area at Wayah Gap, located just off NC SR1310, Wayah Road (view maps and driving directions). The hike trails eastbound through the picnic area, quickly coming to a junction with the white-blazed Appalachian Trail and turning right to follow the AT southbound to Siler Bald. The trail begins a nearly-continuous climb to the mountain’s summit, ducking under a dense tunnel of rhododendron before crossing a rustic wood bridge at .2 mile.

The AT meanders through the forest, climbing elevation through broad switchbacks and crossing a small, trickling spring at .5 mile. Between-the-trees views start to emerge on trail right as the Appalachian Trail arcs westbound. The forest is beautiful, especially in late-afternoon autumn light, as the hardwoods display their colorful fall hues.

Siler Bald from Wayah Gap on the Appalachian Trail

The trail swings eastbound at .8 mile, continuing the climb. The AT passes a Snowbird Gap sign at 1.5 miles, just before exiting tree cover and entering a grassy clearing. A trail leads to an AT shelter to the left. The hike hangs a right, departing the Appalachian Trail to hike Trail #373A, the Siler Bald Vista Trail, to the summit.

The adventure makes a final climb, and broad, sweeping views start to unfold from behind. (To help protect the grassy mountaintop from erosion, hike through the grass, and not the deeply-rutted trail, to the summit.) The trail passes a small campsite at 1.7 miles before arcing southeast and making the final summit climb.

The hike reaches the mountain’s grass-covered summit at 1.8 miles. Expansive views unfold in every direction, stretching far into the surrounding Nantahala National Forest, toward Franklin, and south toward Georgia.

Siler Bald from Wayah Gap on the Appalachian Trail

The fire-tower-topped Wayah Bald is visible to the northeast, as is nearby Wine Spring Bald to the north (topped with communications towers). Albert Mountain, another exceptional NC Appalachian Trail hike, is visible on the far horizon to the southeast.

There’s a stone plaque at the summit, marking the mountain’s official elevation and highest point at 5216 feet, and a stone campfire ring.

The grassy summit just begs for relaxation, but when it’s time to return to the trailhead, the hike turns to retrace its steps on the Siler Bald Vista Trail, turning left on the Appalachian Trail to descend to Wayah Gap. The return hike is relatively fast and easy, and nearly all downhill. The hike reaches the side trail to the Wayah Gap picnic area, turning left off the AT and completing the adventure at just over 3.6 miles.

(Note: this hike climbs the Siler Bald located near Wayah Bald just west of Franklin, NC. There’s another mountain bald with a similar name in the Great Smoky Mountains, Silers Bald, located near Clingman’s Dome and Andrews Bald.)


Siler Bald from Wayah Gap Map, Directions & Details

Trails and routes may change – so please refer to official trail maps for the latest route.

Trail Rating

RATED: 4.7/5 (3 reviews)

Love the trail?

This trail is maintained thanks to the hard work of countless volunteers and donations from supporters of the Appalachian Trail Conservancy. Please support them by making a donation or joining a volunteer day. Let's work together to keep these fantastic trails maintained and open for use!

Updates

Did you have trouble accessing the trail, or notice some recent trail updates or storm damage? We'd love to know! Contact us here, and thanks for helping us keep this site updated!

Driving Directions



Parking

Free parking is available at the trailhead. Before you go, check for seasonal trail and road closures on the USFS Nantahala National Forest site.


GPS Coordinates

35.153499, -83.580654     //     N35 9.20993 W83 34.83923

Elevation Profile

Wayah Gap to Siler Bald: Appalachian Trail Elevation Profile
 
 
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Eric Champlin
Author

Eric Champlin is a writer and photographer who loves to hike, run, backpack, kayak and cycle the southeast. He’s the editor and founder of Atlanta Trails, Asheville Trails, and Trailful, digital magazines that highlight the South’s best outdoor adventures and top Southern-worthy outdoor gear. His mission? To inspire others to get fit outdoors and explore the South’s incredible scenic beauty.