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Andrews Bald Out and Back

Intermediate
  4.4 ( 39 ) Favorite

Trail

3.6 mile 5.8 kilometer out and back
Intermediate

Elevation

Ascent: 806' 246 m
Descent: -807' -246 m
High: 6,276' 1,913 m
Low: 5,722' 1,744 m

Grade

Avg Grade: 9% (5°)
Max Grade: 21% (12°)

Dogs

No Dogs
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Trail shared by David Hitchcock

A popular hike to a Smokies bald with great views and wildflowers in June or July.

David Hitchcock

Features Fall Colors · Views · Wildflowers

Family Friendly Even though there are some steep sections of this trail, it's only 1.8 miles out to the bald. It offers great views of the surrounding mountains and should be easy enough for the kids to enjoy.

Clingmans Dome Road is open April 1 - November 30, 2016, weather permitting. It is closed if Newfound Gap Road (US HWY 441 between Gatlinburg TN - Cherokee NC) is closed due to snow, ice or other conditions. For park road conditions, information can be found at twitter.com/smokiesroadsnps or by calling (865) 436-1200 and dialing extension 2, 2.

Overview

Andrews Bald is a popular hike out to the highest bald in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Offering stunning views of the surrounding mountains, and beautiful flame azaleas in late June, this hike is a favorite for people visiting the Clingmans Dome area.

Need to Know

Andrews Bald is the highest bald in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. It's a great place to take in views and have lunch. Without periodic work from the National Park Service, Andrews Bald would be reclaimed by the forest. It's a favorite route for visitors and locals, so the likelihood that you'll be alone is slim.

Description

To reach the trailhead, drive 13.2 miles south from Sugarlands Visitor Center on Newfound Gap Road to Clingmans Dome Road. Turn right and drive another 7 miles to the end of the road where you reach the parking lot. This hike follows Forney Ridge Trail, so look for the trailhead at the end of the parking lot by the access road to Clingmans Dome tower.

As you follow the Forney Ridge Trail, at .1 mile, the trail takes a sharp left while the Clingmans Dome Bypass Trail continues straight to the Appalachian Trail. You'll descend through a red spruce and Fraser fir forest, although most of the firs are dead due to the infestation of the balsam wooly adelgid insect. You'll notice these dead trees throughout the Clingmans Dome area. The rocky and root strewn trail continues to descend until it levels out along the ridge. Throughout this section of the trail, various wildflowers bloom in the spring and then later in the summer and raspberries and blackberries ripen.

At 1.1 miles, the Forney Creek Trail breaks off to the right as it makes its way to the Lakeshore Trail. Our trail, Forney Ridge Trail, continues straight at the junction. The trail can be very muddy and eroded in places, so the Friends of the Smokies have put in log trails in sections to help combat this problem. Utilize these elevated logs to help keep your feet dry and preserve the trail. After a level stretch, the trail climbs steeply back into a forest of spruce trees. Once the trail levels out, it drops down toward Andrews Bald where views of the Smokies open up before you.

You have reached the destination of the hike. Andrews Bald provides great views of the surrounding mountains. The large, open, grassy meadow is a great place to sit and enjoy lunch or a snack before you continue hiking. Flame azaleas and Catawba rhododendrons bloom in late June, putting on a spectacular show of color for wildflower enthusiasts. Once you've enjoyed the views and a snack, return to your car via the trail that you traveled.

Flora & Fauna

Flame azaleas and Catawba rhododendron come into full bloom in late June or early July, making this a popular route for wildflower lovers. Raspberries, blueberries, and blackberries can also be found in the area.

History & Background

The bald is named for Andreas Thompson who herded cattle up to the area in the 1840s so that they could graze in the summer. He and his family moved there in the 1850s.

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Check-Ins

Aug 27, 2019
Mariska ter Haak
Jul 27, 2019
Rocco Nudo
Jul 2, 2019
Amy Bakaletz
Jun 14, 2019
Jeff K
12h 15m
Jun 4, 2019
Shawn Seals
3.6mi
May 22, 2019
Sarah Hess
May 19, 2019
Petey Arthur
Apr 9, 2019
Thomas Mcadorey
went to rock slab fall too 7.6mi — 2h 00m

Trail Ratings

  4.4 from 39 votes

#186

Overall
  4.4 from 39 votes
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#186

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6,196 Since Feb 6, 2016
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Photos

Andrews Bald.
Jun 11, 2016 near Bryson…, NC
Andrew's Bald - 06/09/16
Jul 16, 2016 near Bryson…, NC
Good morning, Great Smokies!
Aug 4, 2016 near Bryson…, NC
Andrews Bald and the Smokies on a relatively clear day.
Feb 6, 2016 near Bryson…, NC
Great views from up here.
Jun 9, 2016 near Bryson…, NC
In areas that were susceptible to mud and erosion, the Friends of the Smokies helped install elevated boardwalks in sections of the trail to help preserve the area and make traveling along this trail a little easier.
Feb 6, 2016 near Bryson…, NC

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