Cherokee County High Point Trip Report

Date: May 17, 1999
Author: Ron Tagliapietra

The easy (western) spot is off the Overhill Skyway (see reports for Huckleberry Knob, NC and Haw Knob, TN) on a short trail. It takes about an hour round trip. The tough (eastern) spot is not too bad once you know the best route. Exit I-40 for Waynesville and the Smoky Mountains onto US 74. Follow this about 60 miles (the first 40 miles has 4 lanes and is also called the Great Smoky Mountains expressway). Pass Lauada and Wesser (where Nantahal Outdoor Center is) to the hamlet of Nantahala at the Macon county line.

You will see a road going left just before the county line, but continue to the first left after the county line (Wayah Road, I think). Take this paved road for 9 miles to the community of Aquone. Turn right (at the sign for Appletree Campground) onto Junaluska Road. Drive several miles (passing the campground) to paved FS 440 on the left (at sign for boat launch) just beyond the gap at the Cherokee county line. Drive over two miles (2.2?, 2.5?) to an unsigned gravel road on the right. Turn right and drive 0.1 mile and take another right. After 0.3 mi. park at a junction with a road on the left and notice that both roads are gated beyond this point. Ignore the left hand road and walk up the almost level old vehicle track for 30 minutes to Old Road Gap.

A no-longer maintained (formerly blue-blazed) trail departs on the left just before the gap. Follow this steep trail (right at strange junction in first 0.1 and follows ridge from campsite at 0.3) up perhaps 10 switchbacks. At about 2.5 miles reach main ridge of Valley River Mountains at signed T junction with Rim Trail in "County Corner Gap". The ascending hill in the brush to the left is called "County Corner Knob" in de Hart's guidebook. The summit of the knob is about 0.25 miles and the intervening walk bags the HP.

Before returning to your car from County Corner Gap, you may wish to follow the Rim Trail left for about 1.5 miles to a gap with unmaintained paths departing on both sides. The left trail ascends about 0.2 to a beautiful campsite on Tusquitee Bald's summit (benchmark, 2000-foot prominence peak, range HP, and great views).