|Lat/Lon:||35.03520°N / 83.538°W|
|Elevation:||5498 ft / 1676 m|
Located in the Nantahala Wilderness Area, Standing Indian Mountain is the highest point along the Appalachian Trail south of the Smokey Mountains. Views from the top can be spectacular regardless of the time of year.
Since the mountain is part of the AT, it is visited by many hikers each year. There is also a gravel forest service road leading to Deep Gap which is only 0.9 miles from Standing Indian Shelter and 2.4 miles from the summit. This makes for a fairly easy, albeit very uphill, dayhike from the car.
There are several ways to reach the summit:
1. Service Road & AT Route: Take Highway 64 until you see a small brown sign with an arrow pointing towards Deep Gap. Follow this Service Road #71 for several winding miles until you come to the Deep Gap parking area. (You absolutely cannot miss it.) During the winter this road is closed. Hike from Deep Gap to the summit along the Appalachian Trail marked with very obvious white blazes. Though you are "northbound" on the AT, you will actually be going somewhat southeasternly. This is one of the few areas where the AT takes a horseshoe shaped route rather than pointing north.
2. Kimsey Creek Trail & AT Route: Follow Highway 64 to Old Highway 64, and then follow the signs for Standing Indian Campground. During the winter you may have to leave your car at Rock Gap instead of in the campground itself. From the camground, walk across a small concrete bridge over a stream. There will be a sign on your right indicating the Kimsey Creek Trail. Follow this trail 3.7 miles generally following the creek. You will also pass through a couple of fields so be sure to pay attention to your route. Parts of the trail follow an abandoned logging road. Just before the Kimsey Creek Trail intersects the AT you will come to a very obvious gravel road and an open field that is used to collect timber. Walk through this and a short distance further you will reach Deep Gap. From there, follow the directions from #1.
There are no restrictions whatsoever except when the Standing Indian Campground is open. In this case, you have to pay a small fee to camp in the campground. The Standing Indian Shelter is on a first come first served basis though there are numerous good campsites with reliable water sources all around the area, particularly in the area just above Deep Gap (a short hike northbound on the AT).
The mountain can be climbed at any time of the year, but during winter some of the access roads along with the campground will be closed. During April and May this part of the AT will be very busy with eager northbound thru-hikers. The shelters in Nantahala will fill up quickly and see lots of traffic. However, fall and spring are particularly beautiful times to climb. Summer is very hot and humid so be sure you carry enough water.
You can camp anywhere along the AT and it's side trails. However, as a courtesy to your fellow hikers, do not camp directly on the trail but rather select a more amicable spot off to the side. There are quite a few good sites on the mountain. You can even camp on the summit itself although there are no water sources at the top.
The best guide I have seen about this mountain (and the Nantahala area in general) is the Appalachian Trail Guide published by the Appalachian Trail Conference. Very detailed and accurate maps are available.
Just a word to the wise, my experience is that weather forcasts for this area are useless. The nearest town from which to get a forecast is Murphy, North Carolina... yes, the same town in which Eric Rudolf was finally arrested.