Hike to stunning views from the Standing Indian Mountain summit on the Appalachian Trail, climbing from Deep Gap and the Standing Indian AT shelter near Franklin, NC.
Starting at Deep gap, the trail climbs through switchbacks and rhododendron tunnels to the summit of Standing Indian Mountain, where views stretch over deep-cut valleys and chiseled mountains. It’s one of our hidden gems on the Appalachian Trail near Franklin. The trail’s rated moderate in length and difficulty.
Beautiful summit views, and an overnight stay at one of the many campsites on the AT.
Following the white-blazed Appalachian Trail northeast from the gap. The trail begins with a climb to the summit, winding through switchbacks, continuing its climb and passing a wooden Nantahala National Forest sign at .5 mile.
We then pass several campsites, first a smaller and then a large, level, multi-tent site alongside a small stream at .75 mile. The hike reaches a blue-blazed trail at just under a mile, following the blue trail 100 yards to the Standing Indian Shelter, a primitive overnight shelter for thru-hikers on the Appalachian Trail.
Returning to the AT, the hike resumes trailing through several wide switchbacks. The climb intensifies at 1.7 miles with more switchbacks, tunneling through an overhead canopy of gnarly-branched rhododendron.
The trail straightens its course, exiting the thick thickets of rhododendron and running a ridge, catching through-the-trees views on both sides of the trail. Nearing the summit, the AT passes a junction with the blue-blazed Lower Ridge Trail on the left at 2.4 miles. (The Lower Ridge Trail connects to the nearby Standing Indian Campground.)
The route reaches a wooden ‘Standing Indian Mountain’ sign, veering right off the AT to hike a side trail through a group of near-summit campsites. The hike reaches the Standing Indian Mountain summit overlook at 2.5 miles. Beautiful views overlooking the Tallulah River, the river that, south of the NC border, carves deep and beautiful waterfalls in Georgia’s Tallulah Gorge. On the far horizon, Lake Burton is visible, in the Appalachian Mountains.
The overlook is a spot for lunch break.
The hike departs the summit in reverse, trekking back to the Appalachian Trail and descending Standing Indian Mountain. The AT reaches the Deep Gap Trailhead at 5 miles total.
Deep Gap, Cartoogechaye, NC 28734
35.039491, -83.552510 // N35 02.370 W83 33.150