Andrews Bald in the Great Smoky Mountains


Andrews Bald Azaleas in Bloom
Andrews Bald with Azaleas in Bloom

Andrews Bald is a popular destination in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. And for good reason:

The bald offers wonderful mountain views, brilliant Fall foliage, and lots of blooming shrubs in early Summer. The Azaleas and Rhododendron can really provide an incredible showy display when in peak bloom. The open meadow is large and allows views in many directions of mountain peaks and deep valleys.

Getting to Andrews Bald requires a short but moderate 2.1 mile hike over rocks and boulders. The hike begins at the Southwest end of the Clingmans Dome Parking Lot. Look for the sign for the Forney Ridge Trail.

Flame Azalea
Flame Azalea

From the Forney Ridge Trailhead, you will immediately down from the parking lot into a high elevation world of boulders and scrubby vegetation. In a few hundred feet you will come to a trail junction. The Forney Ridge Trail bears sharply left. You will need to follow the Forney Ridge Trail all the way to the bald.

The first mile of the trail is a hard scramble over rocks and boulders. In the Summer months be wary of the possibility of a timber rattler sunning on one of these rocks. While it is rare that you will encounter a snake one needs to be aware of the possibility.

After you clear the rocks the trail becomes a soft and comparatively level walk to the bald. As you arrive at Andrews Bald the woods open up into a wonderland meadow with wonderful open views and lots of soft grass.

Side trails will take you to nice spots for a lunch or just sitting for a spell and taking it all in! The Forney Ridge Trail descends from here but if your destination was the bald you can linger for as long as you wish and rest for the two mile hike back to the parking lot.

Andrews Bald is the perfect destination for those seeking a high elevation day hike. It offers a wonderful reward for a moderate amount of effort!

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