From the last overpass in Franklin, NC, drive west on U.S. 64 for 11.8 miles and turn left on Old Murphy Road (SR 1448). The road is signed for Standing Indian. Continue 1.9 miles to Wallace Gap and turn right onto FS 67, which has a national forest sign reading "Standing Indian Campground - Turn Here." FS 67 is closed from January to mid-March. Follow FS 67 for 2 miles, staying left when a road branches right toward the campground. The pavement turns to gravel at 2.3 miles and passes a large parking area with a wooden signboard exaggeratedly labelled "Backcountry Information Center." Continue on the well maintained gravel road through an open gate. When a sign on your right indicates Bearpen Gap Trail to the left (at approx 5.6 miles). Parking is available at no charge just beyond the trail head on the right. The trail begins beyond the gate marked 67K.
Hike uphill beyond the gate marked 67K on the grassy roadbed. Blue blazes mark the route later but are infrequent on the roadbed. At 0.2 mile, an orange diamond-blazed trail and another roadbed intersect the trail on the left in a clearing. Continue straight on the road, heading gradually uphill. At 0.4 mile, the route turns into a trail to the right at the double-blue-blazed junction. This intersection is easy to miss, so keep an eye out for the trail & blazes. This part of the trail is well marked with blue blazes.
The trail climbs gradually & crosses 2 small creeks at 0.8 mile. It crosses another branch at 1.3 miles and several other small seeps before climbing steeply via 3 switchbacks at 1.6 miles. The trail moderates & begin paralleling the Bearpen Creek below on the right. After passing through a large hemlock grove, the trail rock-hops a rivulet at 1.9 miles, then reaches another stream will a single-log bridge at 2.1 miles.
The trail crosses a grassy roadbed at 2.4 miles. On the opposite side of the roadbed, the trail climbs very steeply through an overgrown section to reach FS 67 at 2.6 miles at an unnamed gap. The junction between the Bearpen and Appalachian Trail is marked with double white & blue blazed. Follow the AT left (northbound). The trail steeply ascends the ridge away from the road on several log steps. Above these, it soon reaches the first of many sets of rocky crags and boulders. ).2 mile past the junction there is a clearing that offers great views to the east. Shortly thereafter, the AT reaches the summit of Albert Mountain and its lookout tower.
The total roundtrip of this short but satisfying hike is 5.8 miles.
The best time of year to do this hike is in late April or early may when the wildflowers are in bloom.
There are no fees to access this trail or to park at the trailhead.
Dogs are allowed.