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  1. #1
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    Default Pinnacle Creek Trail stub

    Pinnacle Creek is the alternate name for a section of Lakeshore trail that used to run from Eagle Creek to Jenkins Ridge.
    The trail was closed about a decade ago and replaced by a new trail that runs from Eagle Creek to Hazel Creek.

    If you look at the current $1 Great Smoky Mountains Trail Map (i.e. NPS backcountry map), there are 5 dots of the old Pinnacle Creek Trail shown at old intersection with Jenkins Ridge trail.

    Are these dots a misprint, or is there still an old portion of Pinnacle Creek that gets used (perhaps to reach a cemetery, or fishermen use to access Pinnacle Creek)?
    If there is still an old portion of Pinnacle Creek that is open, how far does it go?

    Using old data still found in Google Earth, I can see that the old trail simply follows the contours of a few mountain "fingers", slowly decreasing in elevation until it reaches Pinnacle Creek (where it then turns down and follows the creek to Eagle Creek). Given how the $1 Trail Maps are notoriously not to scale nor vary detailed, it's impossible to judge how far back this 'stub' shown in the $1 map of Pinnacle Creek goes.


    (FYI, I don't see any portion of Pinnacle Creek Trail in the list of trails on the 900 Miler Club website. But since it's on the current trail map, I'd like to include hiking the stub when I'm in the general area later next month)

  2. #2
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    as far as i know----it's a misprint....

    when they closed that section of lakeshore trail (which was the old pinnacle creek trail)---they closed it at the gap and where jenkins ridge met lakeshore trail at that gap (i forget name)...

    they then renamed that section of lakeshore/pinnacle (heading down to hazel creek) as jenkins ridge trail...


    with that being said----it's still able to be hiked as a manway.............

    i did it twice from the gap over to eagle creek....................but that was maybe 7-9 years ago, and im sure thats its more overgrown now than it was then...

    and about two years ago---i did the lower portion of the trail----from eagle creek----to go camp at the old campsite 88.......the old campsite is still there with bear cables intact.........

    at that time---two years ago----on that lower end----the trail was overgrown but someone had flagged it (it was still pretty easy to follow though).........

    since i didnt go on the trail east of 88---not sure if it was flagged or not...

    also---the lower end up to the dots----and this is the reason the trail was closed in first place----had many creek crossings..........most were rock hoppable except for the eagle creek crossing which depending upon water flow can be tricky.............one time when i did the crossing, it was up to my waist......

    the dot portion coming from the gap is an old road bed that follows the hillside down to the creek.........

    as for fishing it from the upper end---i dont recall it being deep enough to pull anything but maybe inch longers outta there...........

    so i wouldnt see a need to do the the dot portion to get to creek to try to fish it, especially since there are better fishing creeks on either side (hazel and eagle)....

    if memory recalls correctly---the entire length of pinnacle creek from the gap to eagle creek was only like 2.2 miles...........so the dots would be less than a mile.....

    if it was me doing it again for the 900----i wouldnt bother with it...........


    hope that helps.....

  3. #3
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    oh, and there's not cemetery on that side of the gap...

    however, there is one on the trail that is going down to hazel creek..........

    i forget name of it, but there should be a side trail to the south for it......

    and, but ive never found it, on the north side of the trail, there is a manway that goes to an old mine site which was Kepharts last cabin area............i have never been back to that, and not sure how easy it is to find that manway...

  4. #4
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    if you are interested in cemeteries----this link has a good portion of them...

    robert lochbaum (guy who measured all the trails) is currently working on figuring out where all the cemeteries are located..

    http://web.knoxnews.com/pdf/02222009...832.1438990560

  5. #5
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    Great info as always to TNhiker. I did the old pinnacle creek trail many years ago and stayed at 88. But last time I did Jenkins ridge (a couple years ago), I never found anything marked at the old trail junction. Everywhere else in the park that they have a spur on the map, I think they have a sign marking the trail.

    I think I agree. I think it is a misprint.

  6. #6
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    Everywhere else in the park that they have a spur on the map, I think they have a sign marking the trail.


    yeah........

    the one spur that is kinda hard to spot on map, but it's there, along with a sign coming off of lakeshore trail, is the ollie cove trail that goes down to ollie cove..

    ollie cove is the alternate pick up point for the boat shuttle, if water level is too low at hazel creek (i found out the semi hard way)....

    the cove is about a mile east of campsite 86 along lakeshore and theres a sign there...

    trail dead ends down at the cove, where there's a nice grassy area to have a picnic on......

  7. #7
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    My interest was in finding out just how ambitious my next planed hike is going to be. I'm going to start at Lead Cove trail, hike up and over the mountain taking Jenkins Ridge to 84. If the stub was still a trail, I would want to do it while I'm in the area. Day two is Eagle Creek to 97. Final day is back over the mountain picking up Anthony Creek on the way back to the trailhead. I was afraid the stub trail might add as much as a mile or more if it were still a trail to take. For a misprint, it sure has been there a while.

  8. #8
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    yeah.....its been there for a while.......

    i see no need to go down the stub.......

    it doesnt lead to anything like a waterfall or what not...

    but, hey, its your hike and you may want to check it out when you're in the gap.......

  9. #9
    GSMNP 900 Miler
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    I'd only be interested from the stand point of eventually being able to say that I've hiked all the official trails (including everything needed for the 900 miler club and the various quiet walkways). Because the stub had been there so long, I sort of figured it lead to something. But if the trail is officially closed starting from the gap (and therefore should now have almost a decade of overgrowth) then I'm not particularity interested in doing much "off trail" hiking... just yet... with one exception. Sometime I want to make the trek to the top of Guyot... but that's another trip for another day.

  10. #10
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    get down to the gap and check it out.....

    my guess is that it's going to look pretty overgrown and with blowdowns....

    then make the call...

    but, i really dont see a necessary need to go down there....


    as for the official trails---along that notion, while not on the "official" trails map-----there are other signed trails that can be done....

    ollie cove is a prime example (and if one looks really hard at dollar map---it can be seen as a stub coming off lakeshore trail).....

    there's also the set of, mainly used for the horse concessionaires, but are allowed to be hiked----of loop trails....

    one set is the one down by sugarlands stable.........access to them can also be had off of old sugarlands trail...

    there's also another set over by the twin creeks stable......

    this set of trails is on the NPS map of the smokies and shows the loop system in that area...

    access to those trails can also be had off of grapeyard ridge trail, maybe a mile or so west of campsite 32.....

    this loop system has a chimney and at least one cemetery along it........


    both of these loop systems that i have described have trail signs and distances----but dont appear on the "official" trail map.....

    and both of these can be hiked....

    what i have found----since they are mainly used for horse travel-----it's alot easier to hike these trails in the winter when the concessionaires arent running groups......however, if they are, the trails can still be hiked.....

    also, most of the horse travel seems to be confined to the "lower" parts of the loops, which are closer to the stable.....

    once you get beyond the basic loop, those trails are somewhat nice to hike on...

    for the twin creek one----it looked like very few people had been on it in years..........it was cut and easy to follow, but the trails were not beat down.............

  11. #11
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    Forgot to post a follow up:

    Hiked Jenkins Ridge Trail. The intersection with the old Pinnacle Creek Trail is at Pickens Gap. The gap is a nice flat area that some back-packers were setting up an illegal campsite when I went thru. At the "back" of the gap heading down old Pinnacle Creek Trail is sign marking the trail as closed (don't recall the exact words).

    Given the length of Jenkins Ridge and a water source (Sugar Fork) about 1/10 of a mile away, it would be nice if they would turn that spot into a legal campsite. Given how crowded the back country is getting at times, they need MORE not fewer trails and campsites. In recent years we've permanently lost #4, #7, and #11. #11 was due to storm damage from the tornado that hit the area several years ago. From what I heard, #4 was located near the home of a powerful politician (that didn't appreciate some of the bad behavior from a small group of campers), and I don't know about #7. I've also heard rumors that the temporary closure of Scott Mtn is also going to become permanent.
    Last edited by HooKooDooKu; 09-14-2016 at 14:25.

  12. #12

    Exclamation Don't Attempt This Trail

    I mistakenly used an old Nat Geo map for a four-day solo excursion in August 2012 and stayed one night at Sugar Creek (#84). I hiked up Jenkins Ridge thinking at Pickens Gap I could pick up the Pinnacle Creek Trail. Where JR turn sharply right to go up to the AT there's a faint trail going straight and a small sign "Trail Unmaintained". That's an understatement.

    The trail is indistinct for about 1/2 mile and then it disappears only to reappear (kind of) periodically. I crossed Pinnacle Creek about 10 ten times and had to crawl on my knees through thick Rhododendron. Luckily I didn't run into any timber rattlers or bears (plenty of scat). I was off-trail for about three hours following the best I could.

    Finally I popped out at Eagle Creek just above campsite #83. Had it not been for considerable experience with orienteering - I would probably have been hopelessly lost.

    I stopped at Smokemont Ranger Station to fill out a report suggesting the park replace unmaintained trail to DO NOT EVEN. I'm going back to that area in May 2017 and will see if they took up my request. There is no distinct trail and no way to navigate very well given the overgrowth.

    P.S. If you do attempt Pinnacle Creek Trail - be on the lookout for a very nice Navy Seal knife I lost

    Quote Originally Posted by HooKooDooKu View Post
    Pinnacle Creek is the alternate name for a section of Lakeshore trail that used to run from Eagle Creek to Jenkins Ridge.
    The trail was closed about a decade ago and replaced by a new trail that runs from Eagle Creek to Hazel Creek.

    If you look at the current $1 Great Smoky Mountains Trail Map (i.e. NPS backcountry map), there are 5 dots of the old Pinnacle Creek Trail shown at old intersection with Jenkins Ridge trail.

    Are these dots a misprint, or is there still an old portion of Pinnacle Creek that gets used (perhaps to reach a cemetery, or fishermen use to access Pinnacle Creek)?
    If there is still an old portion of Pinnacle Creek that is open, how far does it go?

    Using old data still found in Google Earth, I can see that the old trail simply follows the contours of a few mountain "fingers", slowly decreasing in elevation until it reaches Pinnacle Creek (where it then turns down and follows the creek to Eagle Creek). Given how the $1 Trail Maps are notoriously not to scale nor vary detailed, it's impossible to judge how far back this 'stub' shown in the $1 map of Pinnacle Creek goes.


    (FYI, I don't see any portion of Pinnacle Creek Trail in the list of trails on the 900 Miler Club website. But since it's on the current trail map, I'd like to include hiking the stub when I'm in the general area later next month)

  13. #13
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    yeah, but any scantly used trail in the southern mountains is going to be hell in August.

    what's the old campsite like? could you even see it through the summer weeds?

    an easy way to get off track on trails like that is missing a river ford, and following the volunteer trail of other folks that missed the ford. i did the North Fork of Citico a few years ago and managed to get off track at least twice when the trail would fade to less-distinct, and then magically reappear on down the line.

  14. #14

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    I just did Pinnacle Creek for the fist time in maybe 5 years. It was way worse than five years ago (and it's only May!). Coming down from Pickens Gap the old road seems to dead end in a massive mangle of blowdowns and erosion right at the headwaters that I did not recall seeing before. It was the first bit of confusion, but I went down into the creek (which is flowing down and to the left of the trail at that point) and saw the straight line of road grade on the other side and picked the trail back up. The rhodo and dog hobble are pretty awful now and there were many places where I tried to get in the creek to avoid the mess but the upper part of the creek is no relief at all as its equally overgrown.

    Some sections were remarkably clear and easy to follow but the trail is just gone in many spots. I don't think it's risky in terms of navigation since you ultimately just follow it downstream to the bigger creek, but choosing the best way to do that is quite a task. I wound up doing the crouch-walk thing for many parts to try and duck under the overgrowth tunnels or used my poles as a plow in front of me to push through the tangle. I was about 3 hours from top to bottom and did not stop for any breaks.

    Campsite 88 bear cables have finally taken a hit and are not usable anymore. The site really doesn't look like a site anymore; if you didn't see the cables and wooden post marker you wouldn't know there was ever a site there.

    This kind of off-trail is less and less fun the older I get. I don't know that I'll ever try this route again. I still like going off-trail but bushwhacking for miles holds no allure for me.

  15. #15
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    Joey Coconato of the MyOwnFrontier youtube channel did one of his hikes last fall in the smokies. He used the Nat Geo map to plan a route and didn't realize that Pinnacle Creek hadn't been maintained in a long time. He went ahead and did it anyway, but had to plow through lots of rhodo. He ended up camping right at Eagle Creek to wait for the water to go down the following morning because the water was over his waist due to rain the previous couple days. Interesting to watch. This link picks up right at Pickens Gap. https://youtu.be/M1sm2L8svWg?t=2445

    I hiked Pinnacle creek shortly before they closed it. So it was interesting to see what it looked like after it had lain fallow for a few seasons.

    As an aside, the MyOwnFrontier youtube channel has a bunch of long form videos from many other hikes that Joey has done. Great stuff.

  16. #16

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    Quote Originally Posted by madgoat View Post
    As an aside, the MyOwnFrontier youtube channel has a bunch of long form videos from many other hikes that Joey has done. Great stuff.
    yeah i peeked a bit, very nice job indeed with those vids. I tend not to watch any videos of places I might go as I don't want spoilers.

  17. #17
    GSMNP 900 Miler
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    I think I saw Joey's video a few months ago.
    Thanks for the update Patman.
    Don't know if I'll ever hike this old trail... but I know there's a couple of off-trail adventures on my todo list.
    But living hundreds of miles away, I had instead focused on joining the 900 Miler Club. Once I had accomplished that, my middle child had joined me on enough trips he was half way to the 900 Miler himself. So for the last 4 years, we've been focused on that.
    BTW we expect him to finish next month

  18. #18

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    88 wasn’t the greatest site when trail was open if I remember.. Been about 25 years since I camped there.

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