Big Hump & Little Hump Balds

  • Highlights: Appalachian Trail, bald summit, amazing views
  • Distance: 8.6 miles out and back
  • Elevation Change 2,300 feet
  • Trail Surface: Dirt with numerous rocky sections
  • Difficulty Level: Moderate/strenuous
  • Trailhead Parking: Yellow Mountain Gap Trailhead, Roaring Creek Rd, Newland, NC; at the end of a dirt road a small parking area has room for 4-6 vehicles.
  • Website: AllTrails
  • Beer Pairings: Bierdock Brewery—Smooth Operator & Pilsner

Trail Map:

The Hike:

This Appalachian Trail section hike reaches two bald summits—Little Hump and Big Hump. The road to the trailhead is gravel/dirt for the last two miles or so. There are some deep ruts and washed-out areas. Our AWD Subaru had no problem. The parking area is on the left, a gate blocks further travel on the road.

The hike begins on the Ovemountain Victory Trail. From the parking area, pass to the left of the gate. Note: not the gate on the forest road. The trail runs beside Roaring Creek and is steep and rocky. At .5 miles, reach a trail junction with a small meadow on the left. Turn sharply left here, back tracking for a bit with the meadow now on your right.

The trail reenters the forest and the climb continues. At .8 miles, reach a trail junction in a small clearing. This is Yellow Mountain Gap. Continue about 50 yards into the forest and reach a four-way junction with the AT. There is a sign here describing the the trail’s Revolutionary War history.  

Bear right on the white-blazed AT heading north. The climb continues as you climb to the summit of Little Hump. There are several views along the way. The bald summit of Yellow Mountain is visible to the east with the red barn AT shelter below.

Reach the 5,453’ grassy summit of Little Hump at 2.5 miles. Wildflowers dot the grassy bald with spectacular views of Tennessee and North Carolina. The jagged profile of Grandfather Mountain is visible to the east. To the west is Roan Mountain and Big Hump looms on the horizon to the north.

Take in the views and then continue on the AT as the trail begins a gradual descent. The AT leaves the grassy bald and soon enters a forest. The trail enters a clearing with a large meadow. The grassy summit of Big Hump towers ahead.

Follow the AT as it continues to descend before reaching Bradley Gap. The climb to the summit begins as the trail gains 600’ in half a mile. Big Hump’s 5,587’ summit offers even more outstanding views. This is a great place for lunch or a snack. 

Take in the views and then retrace your steps south on the AT. The AT never fails to reward us with great views when hiking in the opposite direction on our return. Turn left on Overmountain Victory Trail to return to the parking area.

Hike Photos:

Click on an image below for an enlarged view.

Beer Pairing: 

Bierdock Brewery in Spruce Pine NC is located about 30 minutes from the trailhead. This craft brewery has indoor and outdoor seating, 8 taps of their own craft beer and 4 guest beer taps. They offer a variety of food including really good bratwurst, pizza, sandwiches, and salads.

Pete enjoyed Bierdock Pilsner (4.8% ABV • 13 IBU), a crisp and refreshing beer after a long hike. Kathy really like Smooth Operator (7% ABV), a New England-style hazy IPA.

Hike and drink responsibly. Never drink and drive. Stay safe, be responsible, and leave no trace.