Added by Steve Yocom

Distance: 13.5 miles round trip. Elevation gain: 1,600 ft. Sweeping views of Great Smoky Mountains. Wildlife - lots of birds and herds of elk.

Hemphill Bald is a quintessential Smoky Mountains vantage point and this moderate loop trail leading to it takes you through beautiful forest and rolling hills. This area is incredible in all seasons - wildflowers in the spring, colorful leaves in the fall, and with bare trees in the winter, the vistas along the way open up for even more sweeping views.

Start your hike at Polls Gap parking lot on Heintooga Road in Great Smoky Mountains National Park. There you'll find the clearly marked trailhead for the Hemphill Bald Trail. Follow this trail along a railroad grade path and follow an old split rail fence that will lead 4.7 miles up to Hemphill Bald. Enjoy the open space and views at Hemphill Bald, then continue along the same trail for a short distance and you'll reach a junction with the Cataloochi Divide Trail. Make a hard left in order to remain on the Hemphill Bald Trail, which you will follow until it ends at the junction with Caldwall Fork Trail. Turn left here to continue your loop, eventually crossing Caldwell Fork Creek. When you reach the Rough Fork Trail, follow it left. You will climb a bit on a pretty steep grade, but it doesn't last long before leveling out and taking you on a nice grassy trail back to the beginning of the loop at Polls Gap.

Driving directions from Asheville: take I-40 West out of town and take exit 27 towards Waynesville. Continue on US 19 through Maggie Valley to Soco Gap. Turn left (south) onto the Blue Ridge Parkway, following signs to Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Look for a right turn onto Heintooga Ridge Road at milepost 458.2 and drive about 6 miles on this road and you'll hit Polls Gap where you'll find the clearly marked trailhead for the Hemphill Bald Trail.

Read More

Tags

Photography
Hiking
Easy Parking
Forest
Scenic

Reviews

Have you done this adventure? Be the first to leave a review!

Stay Nearby

Cherokee, North Carolina

Balsam Mountain Campground

Overview Balsam Mountain Campground is located in a relatively remote part of Great Smoky Mountains National Park. The secluded setting offers visitors the ability to enjoy a multitude of recreatio...

Cherokee, North Carolina

Round Bottom Horse Camp

Overview Saddle up your horses for a camping trip in the stunning Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Located in the North Carolina portion of the park, this campsite offers miles of horse trails ...

Waynesville, North Carolina

Cataloochee Horse Camp

Overview Located in the scenic Cataloochee Valley, tucked in a cool and shady canopy, this campground offers the best that the Great Smoky Mountains National park has to offer, including some of th...

Cherokee, North Carolina

Cherokee / Great Smokies KOA

Nearby Adventures

  • Hike to Barrett Knob Fire Tower

    Your hike will start at the base of the Blue Ridge Parkway just a few miles from the start in Cherokee. The trail starts right off of the parkway in a very small easy to miss dirt road. There is a small area to park that then you start your hike u...

    1 miles 400 ft gain

  • Taking in Soco Falls

    This double waterfall is located a mile and half off of the Blue Ridge Parkway in the Cherokee Indian Reservation. From the parking area, it's a short walk down a well-established trail to the viewing area of the falls.For an even closer view of t...

  • Photograph Mingo Falls

    Although it is not much of a hike at just 0.3 miles, it is accessible to people of all fitness levels.  A climb up a series of stairs leads you to a trail overlooking Mingo creek.  You will then find a 20 foot wide bridge which serves as the viewi...

    0.3 miles 100 ft gain

  • Hike to Abandoned Cessna 414A

    This is an AWESOME day hike for anyone looking to get outside for a few hours and see some special views of the blue ridges, as well as check out the abandoned plane crash of a Cessna 414A that happened back in 1983. The remains of the plane are s...

    2.5 miles