Day Hike to Hemphill Bald

Rate this Adventure North Carolina Hemphill Bald Trailhead

Added by

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.

Pack List

  • Hiking shoes
  • Water
  • Camera
Read More

How to Get There

Have you done this adventure? Have something to add? You could be the first to leave a review!

Added by Steve Yocom

25 years young. Burst at the seems, be what you dream. Living in the Blue Ridge Mountains! Adventuring whenever I can!

Activities:

Photography, Hiking

Skill Level:

Intermediate

Season:

Year Round

Features:

Easy Parking
Forest
Scenic

Are we missing something?

Suggest an edit

More Adventures Nearby

Hike the Trombatore Trail to Blue Ridge Pastures

North Carolina / Trombatore Trailhead

Park along the road at Bearwallow Gap - this is also the parking area for Bearwallow Mountain.

Kat Dellinger
25 Saves

Hike along Basin Creek in Doughton Park

North Carolina / Basin Creek Trailhead

A treasure in North Carolina that doesn't get as much attention as it should, Doughton Park has some of the best trails around.

Kat Dellinger
14 Saves

Hike the Elk Knob Summit Trail

North Carolina / Elk Knob State Park

There are no bathrooms at the trailhead, so if needed, drive a little past it to the park bathrooms on the left. Park at the summit trailhead and start your hike on the new gravel path.

Kat Dellinger
15 Saves