Pets allowed
Elevation Gain
2,112.00 ft (643.74 m)
Trail type
21.00 mi (33.80 km)
Please respect the outdoors by practicing Leave No Trace. Learn more about how to apply the principles of Leave No Trace on your next outdoor adventure here.

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.

Logistics + Planning

Preferable season(s)




Parking Pass

Not Required


Great views. Varied loop. Accessible.


Crowded along the Appalacian Trail.

Trailhead Elevation

3,405.00 ft (1,037.84 m)


Backcountry camping
Historically significant
Big vistas


Nearby Adventures


For new backpackers, there are many resources to help you, but most importantly, make sure that you have the basic necessities-safe drinking water system, map & compass, clothing, etc. and know how to use them. You can buy a $5 book from a Boy Scout Shop or digital book for the Backpacking Merit Badge Pamphlet. It has consolidated information by experts that is put together in a very digestible format to read-and you can refer back to it. You could also take a class at REI, and they have packing lists on their website-I have taken this and altered it for our stuff. I also keep a spreadsheet of what our items are and the weight. That way I can compare it to new equipment to see if it is worth the expense. I can also forecast what my pack weight will be depending on what adventure we need more or less stuff for cold or hot weather camping, canoeing/kayaking, etc.
My options on gear: watch Youtube postings for specific trails like AT long distance backpackers have interesting and insightful words about product reviews and new products come out that are more lightweight, etc. I liked one review that said to keep everything dry and most comfortable by wearing your rain jacket, your pack, then wear a big poncho that covers your pack to keep everything dry. Others think we are crazy, that it is overkill, but those same people hate hiking in the rain and find their stuff is wet. We have a lovely time hiking in the rain-when we open our pack everything is dry. Oh, one last piece of business: This guy has the lightest titanium cat trowels. Deciding how you can budget for your equipment is big, because lightweight and comfort usually comes at a higher expense. I most regret buying inflatable sleeping pads that break. But I do love our Exped 7 down mats which were worth the cost in being lightweight & extreme comfort and have not ever failed. Best cheapest option-closed cell mats are great with small budget and can get wet. Happy Trails!
We always hiked across Albert Mtn first, otherwise the goal of Standing Indian would never have happened. Albert is a very difficult hike, more like an actual climb at times. Or it was, the trail may have been improved since 25 years ago.
Thanks for posting this for us beginners. I am planning my first trip and this information is great. I will definitely post photos after our trip. If anyone has specific packing list it would be greatly appreciated. We are looking at May of 2019 for this trip.
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