Standing Indian Mountain (7-30-16)
Standing Indian Mountain is a high southern peak located within the Southern Nantahala Wilderness. It's located in the far southwestern corner of the state just north of the Georgia state line, west of the North Carolina town of Franklin. At 5,499-feet the summit of Standing Indian also marks the highest elevation reached by the Appalachian Trail south of the Great Smoky Mountains. So, in my book it is a landmark worth visiting. Oh...and there's some pretty good views from the top as well so that helps too.
I have had my eye on hiking Standing Indian for a while now but it hasn't been near the top of the list so it seemed to keep getting bumped off for other more 'exciting' destinations. It was time though, on this beautiful late July day, to make a go of it. My hike would start from a place called Deep Gap. As there are about a hundred (that may be stretching it, but not by much!) 'Deep Gaps' in the southern mountains so that probably doesn't help much. The trailhead is reached by taking Forest Service Road #71 (Deep Gap Road) off of US-64 near the Macon/Clay county line west of Franklin. Following F.R. #71 around six bumpy miles will find you at Deep Gap, where the road dead-ends at the Appalachian Trail. From the parking area at Deep Gap the route up Standing Indian means following the Appalachian Trail northbound around 2.5 miles. It's a steady uphill climb the entire way but the grade is rarely more than moderate, the trail is wide and well-traveled, and the surrounding forest is magnificently lush. It's a great hike. One note once you reach the summit, though...you may, upon arriving, see the overlook from the top and think, "that's it?!" The clearing at the summit isn't all that impressive a sight. What you want to do is keep following the summit spur trail south past the summit for another hundred yards or so. That's where you'll find the big payoff. You'll find yourself atop a huge rock outcrop thousands of feet above the valley of the Tallulah River with countless mountain peaks stretching to the south and western horizons.
So, without further adieu, I present to you a quick afternoon hike to the wild summit of Standing Indian Mountain. This hike is about as straight-forward as my hikes come but I think you'll agree its quite a beautiful little adventure. As always...ENJOY!!!
Trailhead GPS Coordinates: 35.042723, -83.554950
Route Type: Out-and-back Difficulty: HARD
Mileage Hiked: 5.5 miles Hike Duration: 2:30
Trailhead Temp: 70'F Trail Traffic: 5-10 people
Min. Elevation: 4,340' Max. Elevation: 5,499'
Total Vertical Gain: 1,300' Avg. Elevation Gain / Mile: 473'
Trails Used (blaze color): Appalachian (white), Standing Indian Summit Spur (unblazed)