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Bald River Gorge Wilderness

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The United States Congress designated the Bald River Gorge Wilderness (map) in 1984 and it now has a total of 3,791 acres. All of this wilderness is located in Tennessee and is managed by the Forest Service. The Bald River Gorge Wilderness is bordered by the Upper Bald River Wilderness to the south.


Bald River is a small wild trout stream flowing cold and clear northward through the middle of the steep-sided Bald River Gorge and hence down the middle of this Wilderness. The Wilderness ends just before the river plunges dramatically over a 90-foot waterfall, Bald River Falls, and into the Tellico River. Southern Appalachian hardwoods, pine, dog hobble, and other flora cloak the mountain slopes above the river, home to black bears, deer, wild turkeys, and wild hogs. Fall turns the area into a quilt of color. Summer wildflowers are plentiful. The Bald River Trail climbs steeply from the Bald River Falls parking lot on the northern edge of the Wilderness, descends past a series of waterfalls and along an old logging railway bed, then rises to follow the side of the gorge. Alternating between riverbank and gorge rim, the trail eventually passes through thick stands of laurel and rhododendron before climbing briefly to the Cantrell Parking Area on the southern boundary. The distance is less than six miles, the hiking fairly easy, and campsites exist in several sheltered spots. Two additional trails provide shorter hikes. Human use is heavy. Anglers are limited to fly-fishing and must have a special fishing permit.

Planning to Visit the Bald River Gorge Wilderness?

Leave No Trace

How to follow the seven standard Leave No Trace principles differs in different parts of the country (desert vs. Rocky Mountains). Click on any of the principles listed below to learn more about how they apply in the Bald River Gorge Wilderness.
  1. Plan Ahead and Prepare
  2. Travel and Camp on Durable Surfaces
  3. Dispose of Waste Properly
  4. Leave What You Find
  5. Minimize Campfire Impacts
  6. Respect Wildlife
  7. Be Considerate of Other Visitors
For more information on Leave No Trace, Visit the Leave No Trace, Inc. website.

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