Sandy Mush Bald

  • Highlights: bald summit, wildflowers, wildlife, great views, hike-in lodge
  • Distance:  6.6 mile out and back
  • Elevation change: 1,850 feet
  • Difficulty level: Difficult
  • Trailhead Parking: 19001 NC-209 Hot Springs, NC
  • Website: Cabins at Sandy Mush Bald
  • Beer Pairings: Asheville Brewing Company Perfect Day IPA and 828 pale ale

The Hike:

Sandy Mush Bald was one of the first bald mountains we climbed. The views are amazing. We were there in June and the blaze orange azaleas were in bloom. One of the great things about this hike is the Cabins at Sandy Mush Bald. They rent rustic rooms in the main lodge or a small log cabin. The lodge is located about half a mile from the summit.

The hike to the lodge and summit begins at a small parking area on NC state route 209, known to motorcycle enthusiasts as “The Rattler”. The hike begins just past the gate at the rear of the parking area on an old logging/forest road. The trail climbs steadily for 1.2 miles and passes through another livestock gate. Cattle free range in this area and we did see a few cows on the hike. The trail passes through several switchbacks and then begins to level out a bit. The trail reaches the cabins is 2.5 miles.

This was our first experience with a hike-in lodge. We dropped our packs, met our hosts Mark and Abigail, and climbed the very steep .6 miles to the summit of Big Sandy Mush Bald. The trail to the summit goes past the cabins and up a very steep ATV trail. Keep the fence-line on your left and stay left at the only trail junction. The views from the grassy summit are fantastic and well worth the steep climb. There is a second bald here, Little Sandy Mush Bald although the views were not as spectacular as on Big Sandy Mush.

Our experience at the cabins was also great. The lodging is rustic—no electricity and no cell service. They do have showers, flush toilets, comfortable beds, and kitchen facilities. Breakfast is provided (eggs, sausage, fruit, and a muffin). We brought pasta, sauce, and beverages for dinner. The view of the sunset from our porch was incredible.

Hike Photos:

Click on an image below for an enlarged view.

Beer Pairing:

Sandy Mush Bald is located near Asheville, so what better beer pairing for this hike than Asheville Brewing Company. We really enjoyed the 828 pale ale, made with mosaic hops. It was just hoppy enough at 35 IBUs. Another great beer is Perfect Day IPA, dry hopped with Citra and El Dorado hops. It comes in at 60 IBUs making it “seriously hoppy”.

Hike and drink responsibly. Never drink and drive. Stay safe and be responsible.