Cheoah Bald stands at 5062 feet and is traversed by the Appalachian Trail. It lies smack in the middle of one of the greatest outdoor recreation areas in the Southeast. World class hiking, whitewater kayaking, mountain biking, and cycling can all be had here. Nearby are Lake Fontana and Lake Nantahala for boating, fishing, and canoeing. Nearby rivers include the Tellico, Cullasaja Gorge, Nantahala, and Ocoee. Of course, one of the most famous single track mountain biking areas in the country, Tsali recreation Area, is just a few minutes away. The high peaks of the nearby Smokies and other Nantahala forest highpoints are all relatively close. Bring your hiking shoes, playboat, mountain bike, and all your energy when you come here for a weekend.
Cheoah Bald can be approached from the North via Stecoah Gap or from the South from the NOC, Nantahala Outdoor Center. Both sides provide a moderately strenuous hike to the top.
To get to the Stecoah Gap trailhead, travel North on 19/74 past the NOC. On 28, turn left as if going to Tsali. Go for several miles and turn left on 143. This will take you to the top of Stecoah Gap at 3165 ft. Park in the designated parking lot. You will see a sign for the AT.
From here to the summit, it is 5.5 miles one way (11 total). But there is a lot of elevation change, because you go up and down every one of the subpeaks. There are numerous switchbacks and sometimes steep trail. You will get to the ridge in 0.5 miles (3800 ft). You will pass through Simp Gap at 2.1 miles (3600 ft), Locust Cove Gap at 3.1 miles (3700 ft). At the summit there is a large grassy field that looks to the South. There are great views all-around. To the South of the summit along the AT there is a great shelter with nearby water at Sassafras Gap.
To get to the Southern Approach, simply head to the NOC and park. Take the AT due North to Cheoah Bald.
The trail here is 8.1 miles one-way. from the NOC. This is a fairly strenuous one day attempt and may be done as a great overnighter.
When To Climb
Any time of year. Careful with weather. They get snow up here in the winter and the mountain can see weather changes similar to the nearby Smokies.
There are plenty of camping spots at Stecoah Gap, Locust Cove Gap, the summit, and the AT shelter at Sassafras Gap. There is also camping at the NOC.
Great trail conditions. Easy parking at either end.