Warning: I-40 closed until summer 2022: https://www.fs.usda.gov/alerts/nfsnc/alerts-notices/?aid=70284

Note: Via Rattlesnake Gap climbs 200’ less than from Lemon Gap, feels easier and is a few minutes faster (including the drive). Lemon Gap is prettier.

Drive & Trail Guide - Walnut Mountain, W4T/SU-033

Note: Parking can be full at Lemon Gap. At 11 AM on a clear Saturday, I took the last sensible parking space. Rattlesnake has plenty parking. Lemon Gap trail is more pleasant: wooded, green. Rattlesnake Gap has lots of un-shaded, slash-and-clear road.

Drive Guide - Walnut Mountain (Lemon Gap) from Max Patch Parking

  • Duration: 0:15
  • Google Maps URL: Click Here or https://tinyurl.com/max-lemon
  • Seasonal/Limited Access:
  • Directions:
    • North on Max Patch Rd (Turn R, exiting parking lot) and go 3.6
    • USFS-3505 (AKA Rattlesnake Branch Rd) road tees in from R at Lemon Gap. Park here.

Drive Guide - Walnut Mountain (Rattlesnake Gap) from Max Patch Parking

  • Duration: 0:25
  • Seasonal/Limited Access: USFS-96 has a gate. It was open 2014.08.30 and 2015.09.27.
  • Directions:
    • Drive north on Max Patch Rd (right, out of Max Patch parking) and go 3.6 to Lemon Gap
    • Continue north on Max Patch / Round Mountain Rd and go 1.1
    • Turn R on USFS-96 / Wolf Creek Rd and go about 1.6 miles to Rattlesnake Gap.
      • Note: Google Maps no longer shows this road (2017).

Drive Guide - Walnut Mountain (Lemon Gap) from Atlanta

  • Duration: 3:45
  • Google Maps URL from Atlanta to Lemon Gap: https://tinyurl.com/atl-lemon-gap
  • Seasonal/Limited Access: Dirt, but open in winter.
  • Directions:
    • East on I-285. I-85 N and go 17
    • I-985 N / GA-365 and go 52.6
    • US 441 N and go 43.5
    • US 64 E / US 23 N and go 20 on US 23.
    • Ramp R to US 74 E (Great Smoky Mtn Expwy) and go 22.8
    • Exit 104 - US 23 Business, Junaluska.
    • L on Bus-23 and go 16 on Bus-23/Max Patch Rd
    • L fork on Max Patch Rd (as road turns to dirt) and go 7.7. Stay on the main road.
    • Pass Max Patch parking lot, continue on Max Patch Rd and go 3.6
    • USFS-3505 (AKA Rattlesnake Branch Rd) road Ts in from right at Lemon Gap. AT crosses it.
    • Park at AT crossing at Lemon Gap.
  • Last McDonalds: Waynesville
  • Penultimate McDonalds: Silva, a little off route.

Drive Guide - Walnut Mountain (Rattlesnake Gap) TO Atlanta

  • Duration: (40 minutes to I-40) 3:50
  • Directions:
    • S/SW on Wolf Creek Rd (back the way you came in) and go 1.6
    • L on Round Mtn Rd and go 1.1
    • Pass the Lemon Gap trailhead on your L.
    • Continue at “Drive Guide - Walnut Mountain (Lemon Gap) TO Atlanta”

Drive Guide - Walnut Mountain (Lemon Gap) TO Atlanta

  • Duration: (30 minutes to I-40) 3:45
  • Directions:
    • South (away from Walnut Mtn trail) on Round Mtn Rd / Max Patch Rd and go 3.6
    • Pass Max Patch trailhead and continue 23.6
    • R on US-19S/23S/74W and go 22.8
    • Exit 81, US-23 South to US-441 south to Atlanta

Trail Guide from Lemon Gap

  • Duration: 1.4 miles 750’ climb, 0:50 up (when fresh), 0:30 down
    • Note: Allow 0:45 for setup, if you’re going to use the J-pole for 146.52
  • Navigation
    • Follow AT 1.25 North to Walnut Mtn shelter at 35.8365,-82.93649
    • Follow faint trail past shelter, to left of AT, 0.2 to summit at 35.8367, -82.9341
    • Note: Shelter is about 50’ elevation below summit, as measured by my GPS.
    • Grab the first good clear spot you see at or past the shelter. There’s nothing good at the apex.
  • Trailhead altitude: 3550
  • Summit altitude: 4300
  • GPS tracks/waypoints:
    • Trailhead: 35.82536, -82.93744
    • Creek crossing (dry in boots; wet in sneakers): 35.83346,-82.93664
    • Shelter: 35.83651,-82.93644
    • Summit: 35.83670,-82.93410

Trail Guide from Rattlesnake Gap

  • Duration: 1.4 miles (565’ climb), 0:45 up, 0:30 down (via gated road - not the shortcut trail)
  • Navigation:
    • USFS-96 comes into a T at Rattlesnake Gap. 96 turns R on the top-right of the T. There’s a seasonally gated road making the top-left of the T.
    • There’s another dirt road that ends inside the right-turn of 96. Standing in the gap, face SE and walk toward 35.847824, -82.94429. It arrives at a gate pretty quickly. This is the trail. (FS Trail 135.)
    • Follow this road to the Walnut Mtn shelter, in Walnut Gap.
    • Coming back from the shelter, there is a sign near the shelter that points to a well-defined trail marked “Rattlesnake Gap 0.9 miles”.
    • Pat Harris has a GPX trace at http://smkymtns.com/sota-resources/sota-gpx-tracks/viewtrack/118-/118-.html
    • Going up, you’ll encounter a “Walnut Trail” sign, part way up. This is a shortcut. You won’t be able to find the other end on the way back down (35.8388,-82.93836) unless you hike the shortcut up. The shortcut is overgrown and becomes a bushwhack. I do not recommend it.
  • GPS tracks/waypoints:
    • Rattlesnake Gap: 35.84758,-82.94426

Summit Guide

  • Grid Locator: EM85mu
  • Hang antenna from tree: yes
  • Space to guy mast: yes
  • Cell coverage: 2020: ATT yes. 2019: ATT no; APRS yes. 2018: ATT no; APRS no.