Hello everyone. I am getting a late start on writing since my last post. With this post I am starting a new Hiking category. All my life I have hiked the Appalachian Trail (AT) and other trails throughout South Carolina, North Carolina Georgia and Tennessee. I love hiking to waterfalls and the more remote the better. Most of these have been day trips but a good many were over night stays. Today, I wanted to blog about one of my over night hikes to Siler Bald.
Back in January this year, a good friend and I had planned to hike the Mt. Le Conte trail n Tennessee and sleep over on the Appalachian Trail shelter at the summit. The day before our hike there was extremely bad winter weather on Mt. Le Conte. When I called the ranger station and asked about the weather they told me the trail was closed due to heavy snowfall. The Mt. Le Conte trail is a difficult trail and can be dangerous with all the snow. It is one of the absolutely most beautiful hikes you could do in Tennessee. If you have not hiked this trail you should check it out. We changed our plans and decided to hike Siler Bald from Hwy 64 just outside of Franklin, NC. This would normally be an in and out day hike but we decided to start late in the day and planned to sleep in the AT shelter. When talking to the ranger we were told that no one else had reserved the shelter so we didn’t expect anyone else to be there.
I have a Kelty Red Wing 50 back that I use for day and one night hikes. I packed light but I was still carrying nearly 40 lbs. The 40 lbs included, gloves, trekking pole, Cat’s Meow sleeping bag, ThermaRest pad, Alaska bear repellent, my Ruger 380, 2 water bottles, Katadyn water bottle with filter, one bottle of Gatorade, compass, matches, Yaktrax for my boots in case we had ice on the trail, GSI Snow Peak stove with fuel, freeze dried food, tea bags, a few pieces of candy, granola bar and crackers. Be sure to bring a trekking pole you will need it.
Siler Bald is one of my favorite hikes; it is a really beautiful spot. This is a moderate to difficult hike but you will soon be rewarded when you reach the summit. Siler Bald is accessible from two different routes. We chose to start our hike at the trail head on Hwy 64 parking area. It was cold and snowing with temperatures around 22 degrees. The AT crosses Hwy 64 at this parking area. We started hiking the Winding Stair Gap Trail along the AT for Siler Bald with it snowing heavily. This is a 4.3 mile hike, nearly 9 miles round trip with an elevation change of about 1500 feet. The summit elevation is 5,216 feet. The most difficult part of the trail is the final ascend to the summit.
Along the trail we saw a few rabbits and also spotted deer, raccoon, bob cat and bear tracks. This area is loaded with wildlife. Bears are very common in this area.
Me on AT trail to Siler Bald
On The Summit
As we reached the final stretch to the summit, the snow had stopped but the wind was blowing. I realized that the clouds had lifted, the sun was out and the sky was clearing. When we reached the summit it was pretty chilly. I have a temperature gauge that hangs from my back pack and it registered 20 degrees. It was colder than that with the wind chill so we decided to fix a cup of tea and have a snack before hiking to the shelter.
Siler Bald summit elevation marker.
Siler Bald summit 360 view of snow capped mountains
Siler Bald summit 360 view of mountains
Hike to the Shelter
The shelter is on a loop off of the main trail and is about a mile hike from the summit. We arrived at the shelter and immediately started gathering as much fire wood as we could before dark. With all the snow we had a hard time finding dry wood. We soon got a nice fire going and before we knew it was time to cook supper. Temperatures during the night reached 9 degrees. We had a couple of raccoons visit the shelter looking for food but we had tied our packs up high enough that they could not reach them. The next morning we fired up our stoves, ate breakfast and started back down the mountain.
This is a great hike, be sure to bring your camera for some great shots at the summit!
Please leave comments, especially if you have hiked this trail and if you have not, you need to, it’s a great hike!!