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  1. #1
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    Default Smokey Mt. Section Hike

    I am a "senior citizen", living in Oregon and generally hiking sections of the PCT with a few friends. I would like to do a brief section of the AT just for the experience and comparison. Last year I was in Nashville and went to the Smokey Mt National Park, Clingman's Dome, and saw where the trail crossed through this area. I know the entire trail, through the Smokey's is about 70 miles. We generally hike about a week and go 50 - 60 miles so 70 is doable. I'm wondering if it would be best to hike the entire trial in the Smokey's, or start at Clingman's heading North and go into North Carolina a bit just to experience the trail out of the National Park. And, is this the best part of the AP to hike or are there better segments?

  2. #2
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    And, is this the best part of the AP to hike or are there better segments


    its one of the best, for sure.........

    if you can do the whole 70----i say go for it...

    should only take one 4-6 days to get through..

    theres a road that goes through the park that is about halfway of the AT, where one can go into town or something like that..........

  3. #3

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    Fontana to i40 crossing is agreeable one of the best..in the south. If you are wanting a little less mileage while seeing arguably the only 2 spots that trump the Smokies in the south....A 6 day trip completing the northern 30 of the Smokies, Roan Mountain from Carvers gap to 19e, and Grayson Highlands from Elk Garden to Fox Creek (or a loop), would make for an outstanding trip for sure. That would be roughly 60 miles, a good bit of driving but you would be getting to see the best of the Smokies, the Roan Balds and the Grayson Ponies all in one trip.

  4. #4
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    agreed with the other places Gambit mentions..

    little hump and big hump blow away any of the balds in the national park....

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by TNhiker View Post
    agreed with the other places Gambit mentions..

    little hump and big hump blow away any of the balds in the national park....
    Add my vote to this. If you're traveling all the way from Oregon for a one-time hike, hit the best stuff!

  6. #6
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    Are you familiar with GSMNP camping regulations? They are significantly different from the bulk of the camping regulations along the bulk of the AT.
    Within the boundaries of GSMNP, you are only allowed to camp at designated campsites/shelters. Further more, your trip length will not qualify you for a GSMNP Thru-hiker permit. You will instead have to obtain a GSMNP General hiker permit where you must obtain a reservation for each night at each campsite you intend to stay at.

    In other words, you will have to get reservations for a specific itinerary and then stick to that itinerary while in GSMNP.


    Do you have travel plans figured out?
    The closest commercial airport is Knoxville, and there isn't any sort of public transportation that can get you from Knoxville to GSMNP. Further more, the two locations where the AT enters/leaves the park are relatively remote. While there are private shuttle services that can transport you from one AT entrance/exit to the other, the remoteness makes these shuttle services relatively pricey ($$$).

  7. #7
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    Hiking inside GSMNP 'feels' different then outside of it. Hard to describe, but I would perhaps suggest New Found Gap North and out of the park, though you miss some of the highest hiking and shelters of the AT, you do gain the option of staying at one of the most well known, and unique hostels on the AT - Standing Bear, then get to walk right through main street of Hot Springs on the trail.

  8. #8

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    Personally, I think Hot Springs to Erwin is the best part of NC/TN and gives you a little bit of everything. The park is okay, but it's overcrowded and your forced to stay in shelters which can pack you in like sardines at times. It would probably be easier/cheaper to get shuttles in and out of Hot Springs/Erwin to an airport then to the ends of the Park.

    Although it would be a shame to miss Max Patch. New Found Gap to Hot Springs would be a good compromise. I like the north half of the park better myself.
    The AT - It has it's ups and downs...

  9. #9
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    Thanks to all that responded so quickly. Lots of great information that will help me plan the hike. I wasn't aware of the reservation requirement and I know from doing the John Muir that that can be a pain. And, I like the suggestions of some of the options and will explore them further. You all have been a great help to get me started.

  10. #10

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    If someone wanted to do Max Patch:
    Get a shuttle to I-40 exit 451 at the Pigeon River Bridge right before Standing Bear.
    Hike through Hot Springs.
    Get a shuttle at Sam's Gap(I-26) or Stay at Nature's Inn and get a shuttle from them.
    Would give you approximately 79 miles of trail with easier pickup drop-off depending on Airport location.

    You could fly into Knoxville or Asheville, ~77 miles from Knox, ~56 from Ashe.
    AT Miles: 182.8 NOBO 13.9 SOBO :-)
    Pinhoti Miles: 5

  11. #11
    GSMNP 900 Miler HooKooDooKu's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ferg70 View Post
    I wasn't aware of the reservation requirement and I know from doing the John Muir that that can be a pain.
    GSMNP is a totally different ball game compared to JMT. There just isn't the same level of demand... and so there's no lottery system like you will find for JMT, Grand Canyon, Mt Rainier, Yosemite, etc.

    All you have to do is 30 days before the start of your hike, make reservations online at this web site. Only the really popular campsites and shelters fill up early. But at the 30 day mark, you can usually get what ever you want unless it's a really popular spot during a really popular time.

  12. #12
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    All you have to do is 30 days before the start of your hike, make reservations online at this web site. Only the really popular campsites and shelters fill up early



    along with this-----its also possible to get a non popular site a day or so before a trip......

    or get lucky and get a popular site a day or so in advance....

    the earliest one can make a reservation is 30 days before a trip...........

  13. #13
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    If you hike within the Smokies - or anywhere else - you can check the ATC list or the Thru-hikers guide (or other places?) for shuttle drivers! You can also ask on this forum...

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by Gambit McCrae View Post
    Fontana to i40 crossing is agreeable one of the best..in the south. If you are wanting a little less mileage while seeing arguably the only 2 spots that trump the Smokies in the south....A 6 day trip completing the northern 30 of the Smokies, Roan Mountain from Carvers gap to 19e, and Grayson Highlands from Elk Garden to Fox Creek (or a loop), would make for an outstanding trip for sure. That would be roughly 60 miles, a good bit of driving but you would be getting to see the best of the Smokies, the Roan Balds and the Grayson Ponies all in one trip.
    If you want to hit the "Best of the South" on the AT, then I agree with the plan above. This hits the best half of the Smokies and the big bald sections of NC/TN and VA.
    JMT - 2013

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