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Thread: 2.5 Day Loop?

  1. #1
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    Default 2.5 Day Loop?

    Husband and I have a few days to spend and were thinking about starting at Davenport Gap and sleeping in that shelter that first night (we'll be driving down that afternoon, and he'll be getting off a night shift so it'll have to be a light day). Then we were going to head SB to Tricorner Knob for the second night. We'd then take the final day down Balsam Mtn Trail over to the Benton-MacKaye Trail NB to end at Big Creek.

    Thoughts? Suggestions? Things to look out for? Will that middle day's elevation gain be absolutely horrible? Any comments would be appreciated - it's our first time in the north side of the park, and we're looking forward to it!

  2. #2
    GSMNP 900 Miler
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    First of all, I've heard a lot of people suggesting that you do NOT park a car overnight at Davenport Gap. Instead, lots of people suggest parking at the Big Creek Ranger Station and then utilize Chestnut Branch to access the AT. However, for you to stay at the Davenport Shelter means you either have to climb 2 miles up Chestnut Branch and then 1 mile DOWN the AT to reach the shelter. Alternately, you could walk the 1.5 miles of road from the Big Creek Ranger Station to Davenport Gap and then up the 1 mile of AT to reach Davenport Gap shelter.

    I've never stayed at the Davenport Gap shelter before, but the 'Little Brown Book' indicates its location so close to major roads can sometimes make it a party place.
    Perhaps someone with more direct experience on that shelter will chime in.

    Since you want to end at Big Creek anyway, you're other alternative to Davenport Gap Shelter is to spend the money (<$20) to camp at the Big Creek campground the 1st night. But that idea would add about 1.5 miles to the next days hike to walk the 1/2 to Chestnut Branch and the 2 miles of Chestnut Branch to reach the AT. (By comparison, the Davenport Gap Shelter is only 1 mile below the AT/Chestnut Branch intersection). Of course you could still access Tricorner Knob shelter by hiking up Big Creek and catching the AT at Camel Gap... but that means you would miss the side trail to the Mt Cammerer Fire Tower.


    Either way, Tricorner Knob shelter is basically on the spin of the mountain thru GSMNP, so look at any AT elevation profile map and you can see the climb you will require to get there.

    If your heart isn't set on the AT specifically, and you can manage a 5 mile hike the 1st day, an alternate hike out of Big Creek is to hike the 5 mile moderately sloped Big Creek trail to campsite 37. The 2nd day, you hike Swallow Fork Trail to Mt Sterling Ridge Tr and spend the 2nd night at campsite 38 below the Mt. Sterling Ridge 60' Fire Tower. Then complete your loop descending Baxter Creek Trail.

    Oh yea... I would call your planed 2nd day to be pretty major. The distance from Davenport Gap Shelter to Tricorner Knob Shelter is almost 15 miles. The elevation profile shows that you will start with a 2,500' climb, followed by a nearly 1,000' drop that you will turn around and reclimb. That's followed by about a 300' drop followed by a 1,500' climb that ends with a 500 decent to Triconer.
    Last edited by HooKooDooKu; 07-26-2014 at 23:46.

  3. #3
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    dont park at davenport gap....

    its not a safe area to leave a car....

    also---ive stayed at davenport gap shelter.....

    its a mile give or take in from the road so locals do tend to sometimes use it...

    however, the time i stayed there---and granted it was in winter---i was the only one there.....

  4. #4
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    I stayed at Davenport Gap in March several years ago. A young couple showed up at the shelter pretty late, shared a sleeping bag, and packed up early the next morning and left. They didn't have adequate gear for the temperatures, didn't eat any food while they were at the shelter, and appeared to be miserable the whole time they were there. I assumed that they hiked in from the road, and hiked back out after spending the night in the shelter.

    Methinks the boyfriend convinced the girlfriend it would be a grand adventure.

    Davenport was the first shelter that I stayed at after it had been renovated. I oohed and ahhed over the skylights and the tiny porch and the sheltered cooking area to the side of the building. Now, every time I hike up to one of the shangri la shelters with the massive front porches, I still think of how luxurious they are compared to how they used to be.

  5. #5
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    Hope your hike was a good one.

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