Good three day loops are hard to come by in the southeast. The Standing Indian Loop remains a great choice regardless of the time of year: It has an itinerary that could be done in two days, but the camping areas on Standing Indian and Albert Mountain beg you to stay a second night. The loop shares a good chunk with the Appalachian Trail, which makes for well-marked and sometimes crowded hiking, depending on the time of year.
According to a Cherokee myth, Standing Indian Mountain is the remains of a warrior turned to stone for failing to remain at his post. He was tasked with guarding the mountaintop from the winged monster that stole children from the villages below. The Great Spirit destroyed the monster with lightning, which frightened the warrior, who fled and was turned to stone for his cowardly display. This legend conforms well to the weather of the region, which along with Albert Mountain can attract severe thunderstorms that sometimes warrant a bypass by thru-hikers who don’t wish to be fried to a crisp walking the prominent ridges of the loop.
The hike begins at Standing Indian Campground and immediately begins climbing 2,100 feet over 4 miles to the summit of Standing Indian for your first good view and a recommended stop for the first night. The views west from the summit of Standing Indian (5,498 feet) are hard to beat. From here you follow the Appalachian Trail almost exclusively for the next 15 miles, traversing many ridges with ample ascent and descent. You'll have to earn the campsite on your second night at the summit of Albert Mountain (5,280 feet).
After descending Albert Mountain, turn left at the intersection for Glassmine Gap to return to your vehicle no doubt filled to capacity with good pictures and a need for a giant lunch on your way home.