Summary: Begin on Hemphill Bald trail from the trailhead at Polls Gap. Descend the grassy old railroad grade with good winter views to the left into the Caldwell Fork Valley. At 1.0 mile look for an old split-rail fence you will follow all the way to Hemphill Bald. At 4.7 miles enjoy the views from Hemphill Bald. Follow the trail until you make a "hard" left at the intersection with Cataloochee Divide trail at Double Gap. Continue on Hemphill Bald trail until it ends at the Caldwell Fork trail. Turn left on Caldwell Fork trail. Just after you cross Caldwell Fork creek by foot bridge, you'll see campsite #41. Continue straight and look for the sign that says "Big Poplars". Take a short side trip to the right to see some huge trees. Ascend the main trail until the junction with Rough Fork trail. Turn left on Rough Fork trail and walk up a steep grade. The trail will eventually level out. Follow this nice grassy trail back to the trailhead at Polls Gap.
Trailhead: From I-40 west of Asheville take Exit 27 to US 19/23 towards Waynesville. Follow US 19 West to Maggie Valley. Continue through Maggie Valley to the Blue Ridge Parkway at Soco Gap. Go South (left) on the Blue Ridge Parkway toward the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. At milepost 458.2 turn right on Heintooga Ridge Road. Continue for approximately 6 miles to the trailhead at Polls Gap. (Lat:35.5628 Lon:-83.1617)
Trail Guides for Hemphill Bald Loop Hike:
North Carolina Hiking Trails
by Allen de Hart (Appalachian Mountain Club Books)
Best Seasons: Fall, Spring,
User Groups: Hikers, Horses,
Ranger Contact: Great Smoky Mountains National Park, (865) 436-1200
Localhikes Reporter: This hike was submitted by Tim Johnson, who has posted 15 other hikes on this site
Trail Reviews Submit your own review
Reviewed by RWE on 6/14/2010
Hiked with my wife on 6/11/10 quite a bit of hog damage in the first mile or so, surprised at least two hogs along the trail, would have been some good views in winter
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Keys: North Carolina Hiking, North Carolina Trails, North Carolina Hikes, Haywood County Hiking, Haywood County Trails, Haywood County Hikes