A couple of weeks ago I took a few days off from work to go explore Big Snowbird, which is south of Joyce Kilmer-Slickrock, off of Cherohala Skyway. I used the Hooper Bald Trailhead on the Skyway and used that to hook up to King Meadows Trail and then on down to Big Snowbird Creek and back.

Tipi Walter and TNHiker were kind enough to offer some pointers before I set out, which kept me out of the weeds right off the bat. Not long after leaving the trailhead there's signage for King Meadows Trail pointing down some old steps. Walter advised me that there wasn't much left of this section of KMT, and it certainly looks that way. if you do head that way, KMT heads straight downhill and hooks up with the Mitchel Lick Trail at a T-intersection. The Mitchel Lick end of that section of KMT is signed as well, but I could not discern an actual trail from there either.

Coming from Hooper Bald TH, pass the KMT sign and soon HBT crosses a gravel road. If you hang a right, KMT joins this road not too far down the ridge. Heading down the gravel road, you'll pass a house and then reach the driveway for a second house. There you'll see signage where the KMT/MLT comes in from the right. If you hang a right, you'll be on Mitchel Lick Trail heading west, which eventually hooks up with Big Snowbird Trail. Keep straight on the road to continue down KMT.

The upper half of KMT is generally a wide road bed that's been torn to hell by ATV traffic. you'll go through a few braided sections where the trail appears to split and then rejoins. At most of the gaps you'll see steep ATV tracks following the drainages off the northeast side of the ridge. Keep with the ridge top, and it's not too confusing.

On the bright side, there are a bunch of azalea shrubs on upper KMT ranging from dark to reddish, to bright fluorescent orange, to yellow.
At some point --I believe it's Deep Gap, where the trail veers off the ridge to the southwest, sidehilling around a knob-- the trail changes character from a wide road to single track. Honestly, it's not really single track. There really isn't a track at all for most of the way, just a route marked by diligent and much-appreciated flagging.

The upper end of KMT looked as if it had been cleared recently. The lower end did have a few blowdowns, but nothing too terribly tricky.

KMT ends at the lower trailhead for Big Snowbird Creek, shortly after crossing the creek on a long bridge.

I hung a right on BST with my eyes trained towards the first decent campsite. That first section of BST heads along a cut in a steep, steep bank through thick rhodo. The river isn't too far down on your right, but you won't see much of it. Not too long before the intersection with Sassafras Trail, you'll see a creekside campsite. A side trail through the site runs parallel to the main trail and passes through four or five additional campsite before rejoining BST. I stayed that night at the last site in the string, which has easy access to the creek complete with a nice, big sitting rock, great for watching the waters tumble by.

The next morning was chilly, and I was moving slow getting packed-up. First off I did an out-and-back up Sassafras Creek to pay a visit to the falls, which is beautiful and very much worth the side trip. It reminded me a lot of Ramsey Cascades in the Smokies.

Next I headed back to BST and continued up to Big Falls, which is pretty and impressive. It's hard to photograph --the steep goat trail only takes you to the top of the falls. Here the river flows around a large rock fin crossing the creek laterally. At the base of the rock fin is a scraggily little azalea with bright white blooms and a smidge of yellow in the center.

I continued upstream and opted to take the Bypass trail, which turned out to be a mistake for a couple of reasons. Bypass heads steeply and unforgivingly uphill above the creek through a thick stand of hemlock skeletons. When it finally reconnected with BST, I hastily turned right. If I'd stopped and thought about it, it would have occurred to me that I needed to go back to the left to go see Middle Falls. By the time I realized my mistake I wasn't feeling too keen on backtracking. So, onward and upstream!

...to Hobo Camp, which was quite nice after removing the redneck trash to somewhere less visible. I wasn't sure of the campsite situation further upstream so I went ahead and set up shop for the evening. The resident fireflies were fainter and bluer than the fireflies we have back in Middle TN. I hung out in my hammock with a beer or two and lazily watched the evening pass by.

I was intending to be on the road as early as possible on Day 3 so I was up and packed by daybreak --not too tough when you fall asleep at sunset and your typical morning routine is trained by a toddler. All I needed routewise was to find the Mitchel Lick Trail and manage to follow it back to KMT. The intersection was not signed, but two trailside Beech trees were double-flagged, with a very light track heading right. only 200 or so yards from the intersection this trail enters a massive blowdown. I bushwhacked wide to the left through head-high weeds, eventually cutting back through the middle of the morass where I was able to spot the track and continue on.

And that is that --had a great time on Big Snowbird. I saw a total of four people, two groups of two --all on Day 1 near the lower trailhead. I made friends with an owl, a rabbit, a boomer, a frog, and a frantically flying turkey. I spotted a trout too, but he wasn't too friendly. Gimmea holler if you want GPS data. my track has some gaps in it, but I kept good notes on the intersections, campsites, and creek fords (I think it's like 19 or 20, not counting what was bypassed around Middle Falls).

Thanks to Walter and Kevin for helping me talk this one through on paper.

My photos are here: https://goo.gl/photos/bCuxqr6g4trXmoRZ6.

I'd add some here, but Google Photos, f/k/a Google Plus, f/k/a Picasa, f/k/a whatever the hell it was before then, doesn't make it easy.