Wesser Bald (10-25-12)
Wesser Bald (4,627') offers some of the biggest bang for your hiking buck of any peak in the Nantahala National Forest. Rising to the northwest of Franklin, between the Little Tennessee and Nantahala River valley's, it sits astride the always inviting Appalachian Trail. Don't let the name fool you, though. This has long since ceased to be a 'bald'. Instead the views come from an observation platform which was constructed about 20 years ago atop the remains of an old fire tower. The jaw-dropping view from the top almost literally takes in the entirety of southwestern North Carolina, from the Great Smokies to the northwest to the Great Balsams to the east.
The hike to the top is a relatively easy one. You technically have two route choices but when one is the Appalachian Trail, do you really care what the other option is? For the sake of clarity and to avoid confusion if you visit I'll clarify. Starting from Tellico Gap, both routes have the same distance to climb...the question is distance required to climb it. Standing at the trailhead the A.T. splits left and winds leisurely for 1.4 miles to the top of the ridge and the summit. Splitting right is what used to be the old access road, now gated, that makes the run to the top in a direct, steep, 0.9 miles. I'd highly recommend the A.T., especially on the ascent...there's just something about seeing those white blazes on the trees that adds a couple cool-points to any hike.
Alright, enough writing, let's go...
Trailhead GPS Coordinates: 35.268162, -83.572288
Hike Length: 3.0 miles Hike Duration: 1:30
Trailhead Temp: 40'F
Min. Elevation: 3,860' Max. Elevation: 4,627'
Total Vertical Gain: 767' Avg. Elevation Gain / Mile: 511' (ascent)