The Transylvania Times -

Bartram Trail Offers Scenic Views, Plant Life Minus The Crowds


Last updated 10/19/2020 at 3:07pm

Here, Myers stopped to enjoy the sunset atop the Raybun Bald fire tower, just over the state line in north Georgia. (Photo by Jacob Myers)

The coming of fall has brought a breath of fresh air into the Appalachians. Amidst the madness that has been the year 2020, the leaves have quickly transformed into those vivid oranges and yellows that mark the beginning of the holiday season.

But with all this beauty, comes an acute popularity for Western North Carolina, and getting outside to enjoy it all can involve a bit of overcrowding on our most popular trails. This can be a great reason to expand one's Hiking repertoire and get out onto the lesser-known trails that we have to offer in our own backyard - trails such as the Bartram Trail.

Formally maintained by the Bartram Trail Society since its founding in the 1970s, the Bartram Trail follows the path of famous botanist William Bartram along approximately 115 miles of raw Appalachian backcountry (with the exception of its crossing through Franklin, N.C., that is). Bartram was renowned for his vivid descriptions of the plants, animals and indigenous peoples, which he encountered during his times in Appalachia, and the trail was designed to share that same experience with hikers.

Elevation fluctuates from around 1,500 feet down in the valleys by the Chattooga River all the way up to the Wayah Bald fire tower, which stands atop a 5,300-foot mountain, offering hikers a variety of terrain and ecosystems to explore along the trail.

As the leaves begin to fall, hikers can look out from the ridgelines towards the Blue Ridge escarpment where the mountains plummet some 2,000 feet down into the Georgian and South Carolina plains below.

If you are looking to experience the variety of plant species offered at the trail's constantly changing elevations, springtime offers the best opportunity to appreciate the trail on that level when the blooms begin coming into full effect.

The Bartram Trail offers over 100 miles of scenic ridgeline Hiking from Northern Georgia and into Southwestern North Carolina. With direct access to the Chattooga River for those final pre-winter swims, roaring cascades like Martin Creek Falls, and full panoramic views from atop the multiple fire towers along the trail's length, the Bartram Trail offers a fulfilling mixture of the backcountry and the front country. While a reasonable length for a thru-hike, the Bartram Trail has numerous access points that make day Hiking to the trail's highlights a viable option for hikers of every caliber.

Martin Creek Falls is just one of the many highlights along the Bartram Trail. (Photo by Jacob Myers)

Steep, difficult climbs over Flat Top Mountain to the Rabun Bald fire tower (pictured) can be contrasted by a leisurely stroll around Warwoman's Dell, where visitors can learn about the history of the area and take a quick visit to Becky Branch Falls, and there lies a ton of variety in between those two.

For closest access to the Bartram Trail from Brevard, consider section Hiking Wayah Bald or fire tower located just outside of Franklin, NC, or making the climb to the top of Cheoah Bald near Bryson City.

(Myers is an Appalachian-based adventure enthusiast and writer. He is an avid storyteller, and rarely does her or his fellow hikers step into the woods and return without something interesting to share. Most of his current writing is displayed on his blogger's page on The Trek's website.)


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