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Thread: Bartram/AT Loop

  1. #1

    Default Bartram/AT Loop

    Hiya.
    Looking for some info on the 58ish mile loop taking in sections of the AT/Bartram trail starting/ending at the NOC. I've got the official Bartram Trail map and have read a few trip reports (like this one), but it's not particularly detailed, and I am hoping to be able to shave a day off that itinerary and do the trip in 4 days/3 nights.
    If you've done this loop before, or if you're familiar with these AT/Bartram sections, I'd be very grateful to hear your general impressions on:
    -the trail (I've heard it's not particularly well maintained/overgrown? Which is fine, but I'd want to factor that in to our plans if it's going to significantly slow our usual pace)
    -water availability (particularly if you've been in the area recently. The map isn't super clear on what marked sources are reliable and what are intermitent...and the overall number of marked sources is a tad concerning since we're lazy and hate carrying too much water)
    - any particularly excellent (or particularly terrible) tenting sites along the route (we'd like to avoid AT shelters on the AT sections)
    - how busy is the Bartram at this time of year?
    - Also would love to hear if the trail is suitable for dogs? (Our pooch is a veteran backpacker, so as long as water sources are fairly regular and there are no sheer rock faces to climb, he should be ok.)

    My rough proposed itinerary:
    Day 1: NOC-Wayah Bald (16.3)
    Day 2: Wayah Bald-Walnut Cove (15.5) Not clear on the camping situation here?
    Day 3: Walnut Cove-Ledbetter Creek near Little Bald (15) Again, not sure if there's good camping near the later crossings of Ledbetter?
    Day 4: Ledbetter Creek-NOC (12-14ish, depending on where we stay along Ledbetter)


    Thanks!

  2. #2
    Getting out as much as I can..which is never enough. :) Mags's Avatar
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    Bring this thread back since when I researched this loop for a hike this past Summer, the Whiteblaze thread came near the top on Da Google. Others may be interested in the loop and may want more information.


    For those interested:

    https://pmags.com/noc-appalachian-tr...ram-trail-loop

    And a very detailed take here (but had a much different experience)
    https://cchikes.com/appalachian-trai...loop-58-miles/

    We found the loop to be a delightful experience. A very good way to get in a solid, long-ish loop hike that is relatively isolated feeling considering the location. Lots of wildflowers, cool to hike a historic route, and not too crowded being away from thru-hiking season.





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  3. #3
    Registered User scope's Avatar
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    I can only say that 16m section of AT is a lot for one day. Not going to shave it there. Essentially, you'd have to stay overnight at NOC and leave out early the next a.m. and, this is the killer, not stop at some of the sights along the way to take it in. Basically, I could see doing lunch at Wesser Bald, and from there making it to Wayah around nightfall - which if you're going to do that is a great place to hang, or I suppose you could tent around the tower area. The campsite is about 0.2m downhill on the Nobo side and is relatively easy to negotiate at night to see the lights at night.

    I don't know the rest of the Bartram, but I figure you can can make up some time on the other sections. The AT is a tough long uphill up to the Jumpup lookout, then relatively flat for a mile to the shelter and water. Not much water along the way, and the last time I was at Wesser Bald, the water at the shelter was a trickle. It has a box for pooling the water that was very littered with forest debris and settlement. Short uphill from there to the bald and climbing the tower for the view is a treat. Next a downhill to the gap with equivalent uphill to a flat ridgewalk with a couple of short trails to overlooks before reaching the shelter. Again, not much water as I recall between these sources, though I remember the Cold Spring shelter being a good source. Mostly downhill through Burningtown Gap, turning into a bit of a wicked uphill going up to Wayah. Excellent water source at Wayah shelter, which has to be a half mile from the top.

    That last climb would be a doozy at the end of a 16m day. Frankly, its the type of thing that I would cramp on, so I've learned not to try these end of the day climbs. Last time I tried, had to camp right where I was halfway up. I can do that in a hammock.
    "I wonder if anyone else has an ear so tuned and sharpened as I have, to detect the music, not of the spheres, but of earth, subtleties of major and minor chord that the wind strikes upon the tree branches. Have you ever heard the earth breathe... ?"
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    Getting out as much as I can..which is never enough. :) Mags's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by scope View Post
    This is the killer, not stop at some of the sights along the way to take it in.
    Damn it! We did it wrong! Guess we did not take in the sights. That side trip on a blue blazed trail must have not happened.
    Being serious, I am sure the OP is gone many months later, but for a person in shape with light gear and starts earlyish, 16 MPD is not Earth shattering. For a person looking to do three-day trip, I am guessing 16 miles is not going to be killer.


    FWIW, we made a somewhat later start at 9 AM or so, made it to where the BT and AT split at ~22 miles, had a decent amount of daylight and finished by early afternoon on Day 3.
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    Registered User scope's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mags View Post
    Damn it! We did it wrong! Guess we did not take in the sights. That side trip on a blue blazed trail must have not happened.
    Being serious, I am sure the OP is gone many months later, but for a person in shape with light gear and starts earlyish, 16 MPD is not Earth shattering. For a person looking to do three-day trip, I am guessing 16 miles is not going to be killer.


    FWIW, we made a somewhat later start at 9 AM or so, made it to where the BT and AT split at ~22 miles, had a decent amount of daylight and finished by early afternoon on Day 3.
    LOL, missed the OP date. Would love to hear how it went. Guess I didn't really read Mags' post either. Nice pics, though. Seems my post rubbed you the wrong way, Mags?

    I probably shouldn't have answered anyway because most of that loop is Bartram trail which I'm unfamiliar with, but I'm real familiar with that AT section and its one of my favorites. I didn't say he couldn't do it as much as I wanted to portray the difficulty of doing that section well given his itenerary. Especially since he was considering taking a dog. Yeah, 16m is doable, but its at least above average. An above average hiker is still going to be about 8hrs with stops for 16m. Given minimal stops, should still have a few hours left in the day to get more, especially going downhill after Wayah. But for sure, its above average, and borderline Phreak-ish.

    While lollygagging on Wayah one late afternoon - more like early evening actually - had a guy come by who paused for a brief moment to take in the view and have a minimal conversation. He had done 22m that day and had about another 4 planned. He spent all of 5 min on top of Wayah. Hey, to each their own, HYOH. Spending 5min at a place like Wayah Bald is just not my thing - I need more time. Again, not trying to say you can't do the mileage, only that its difficult to do, and its difficult to take in what that section offers - at least in terms of the way that I would be inclined to take it in. Doesn't make it the only way to take stuff in, and lots of folks have their reasons for doing lots of miles and perhaps get to take in more excellent views and such covering more territory. Again, HYOH.
    "I wonder if anyone else has an ear so tuned and sharpened as I have, to detect the music, not of the spheres, but of earth, subtleties of major and minor chord that the wind strikes upon the tree branches. Have you ever heard the earth breathe... ?"
    - Kate Chopin

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    That is a nice long 2 - 3 day loop done when the azaleas and Rhodies were in bloom. Good pics as always that inspire Mags. There's some humping on the loop. Go SUL. BT can be used to other loops. If at high AT usage periods needing do decompress with some greenery, views, and Nature BT and BMT are less crowded options.

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    Getting out as much as I can..which is never enough. :) Mags's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by scope View Post
    Seems my post rubbed you the wrong way, Mags?

    .
    I am, and will always be, a sarcastic person.

    We did not stay long at Wayah Bald, too many people on an otherwise quiet route. Wesser Bald OTOH made for a leisurely and quiet lunch.

    Not sure I consider 16m above average for a person with a light pack and in good hiking shape. But, that's me. Off the couch and with a heavy pack? Yeah. That could be ambitious.

    But we stopped, had leisurely break (including a breakfast at an on-route restaurant for the BT!), took a blue-blazed side trip, and the only place we did not linger ended up being Wayah Bald as it was too crowded for our tastes. A four-day trip as the OP asked about would be even more leisurely. Also, to be fair, we had a lot of daylight vs say, Fall.
    Quote Originally Posted by Dogwood View Post
    If at high AT usage periods needing do decompress with some greenery, views, and Nature BT and BMT are less crowded options.
    The Bartram Trail was not "Wow" in terms of views, but lots of subtlety and definitely off the beaten path. I enjoyed it. And, how cool is it to walk a historic path in nature?

    I love this BT photo. Really encapsulates the BT experience.

    Last edited by Mags; 09-12-2018 at 13:10.
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    Historic, yes! I've been to the Bartram estate in Philly. Bartram was from PA. He was a naturalist and I'd say budding botanist. He also wandered the NJ Pine Barrens which inspired me as a boy living there. Perhaps one of the most famous plants he's known for naming and discovering is Franklinia altamaha a white flowering small tree with all known specimens coming from his collection at the Philly estate. It was named after Ben Franklin and where he found it along the Altamaha River. Many have searched for them in the wild, along the river, but to my knowledge Bartram was the only one to find them. Actually, the AT and Appalachian Mts were paths/areas for several botanists and naturalists on plant expeditions of discovery. This is what I talk about when I say thru -hiking is not just about hiking. It's having the willingness to appreciate these things to discover these things such as historical aspects.

    THX again for sharing Mags. I share your goals. Well stated.

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    Thanks for bringing this thread back, would like to do it myself.

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