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  1. #1
    Rain Man's Avatar
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    Question MST re-route in the GSMNP?

    I have planned a group hike on the MST in the GSMNP this weekend. I was relying on the official Park Service "Great Smoky Mountains Trail Map," the latest NatGeo GSMNP map, and the "Bible" little brown book "Hiking Trails of the Smokies." All of which describe and/or show the MST on the Mingus Creek Trail coming out on Hwy 441 near the Oconaluftee Visitor Center. Thus, I planned our hike that way.

    However, today I ran across a "Friends of" web site that has an online inter-active map that shows the MST taking the Newton Bald Trail and coming out on Hwy 441 at Smokemont. I used the Search function on that site for "Mingus" hoping to find info about a change from Mingus to Newton. Nada. Zilch.

    So, which is it? If a change was made, any info on when? Why doesn't the "Friends of" site have a news release, update notice, correction, ANY info on this significant and recent (?) change? Was I just being dense and over-looked it somehow? (wouldn't be the first time)

    Anyway, we do want to hike the actual MST. Any good advice/info appreciated. We're headed over Friday. Some will start that afternoon from Hwy 441 (others from Clingmans Dome Road).

    Thanks in advance!
    ye shall not pollute the land wherein ye are: ... Defile not therefore the land which ye shall inhabit..... Numbers 35

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  2. #2

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    I can't remember the exact dates, but a few years ago the MST was rerouted out of the park to do away with a 13-mile road walk that passed through two tunnels on the Blue Ridge Parkway between the Parkway's southern terminus and Socco Gap. The two tunnels were deemed unsafe for hikers to pass through, so the trail was rerouted. The Map and Brown Book have not yet been updated to reflect this change.

    I did the original route -the one that shows up on your GSMP map in both 2003 (MST section hike) and 2005 (MST thru-hike). I also did the reroute of section 1A (the Peak-to-Peak Route) in 2015. As it currently stands, there are two options for exiting the Park- 1A (the Peak-to-Peak Route) and 1B (the River Valley Route). 1A stays in the park longer and has less road walking.

    From the description for both routes Guidebook:

    "Many maps, including the GSMNP and National Geographic map #229,
    show a different route for the MST than the one detailed in this guide. The
    “ultimate” route for the MST is under discussion, and this route and the
    alternate “River Valley Route” are ways that you can use to complete Segment
    1 of the MST now. The old route veers off this route at the intersection
    of Newton Bald Trail and Mingus Creek Trail. To follow the current
    route, stay on Newton Bald Trail."


    The Friends of the Mountains-to-Sea Trail is the MST equivalent of the Appalachian Trail Conservancy.
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    That's interesting to hear about the reroute---as the original way was the reason the lower part of Mingus got reopened.....

    the park had closed it down as it passed their firing range....

    the MST decided to use the manway (at the time) and didn't ask the park before putting it on their maps...

    so the park reopened it...

  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by TNhiker View Post
    the MST decided to use the manway (at the time) and didn't ask the park before putting it on their maps...
    so the park reopened it...
    Interesting...
    It was just a year or so ago that I even noticed that the Mingus trail was a "new" trail when you compare modern back country maps compared to the older ones.
    For the 20 years I've hiked in GSMNP, it seems like the only thing the park service has done has been to close trails and NOT open new ones. I could probably list 10 trails that have closed in 20 years, but the only ones I can think of that have openned include the Mingus trail and the park of Lake Shore that replaced the closed trail that used to connect Jenkins Ridge with Eagle Creek.

  5. #5
    Registered User The Old Chief's Avatar
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    The old route was used to get the hiker closer to the beginning of the Blue Ridge Parkway, also the original route of the MST in this area. The tunnels (about 4) were extremely dangerous to go through (I know from personal experience) and eventually the Park Service asked that this section of the BRP be abandoned as the official route of the MST. The two routes listed in the FMST guidebook started being used as the official MST in the Smokies about 4 years ago. I believe there is still one tunnel remaining to go through but the trail around it is flagged and waiting to be built. This is an extremely difficult section of trail in that the Cherokee Indian Reservation must approve of it as well as the Blue Ridge Parkway and NC State Parks. Who knows which one of the two options will become the trail with all the politics involved. But for right now used the guidebook to determine which is best for you. And your download of the guidebook is free so enjoy.

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    Rain Man's Avatar
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    Thanks for all the history and info! I appreciate it! Will change our plans to use the Newton Bald Trail instead of the Mingus Creek Trail.
    ye shall not pollute the land wherein ye are: ... Defile not therefore the land which ye shall inhabit..... Numbers 35

    www.MeetUp.com/NashvilleBackpacker

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  7. #7
    GSMNP 900 Miler
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    Quote Originally Posted by Rain Man View Post
    Thanks for all the history and info! I appreciate it! Will change our plans to use the Newton Bald Trail instead of the Mingus Creek Trail.
    Plan on staying at Newton Bald?
    I'm not totally sure why, but Newton Bald is one of my favorite campsites in GSMNP.
    I know, in part, what to me makes Newton Bald a cool campsite is that you're practically on a mountain top, but there's a pretty reliable natural spring at the campsite.

  8. #8
    Rain Man's Avatar
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    Yep, Friday night at campsite #52 on Newton Bald. Looks like a 2,900' climb over 4.5 miles.

    Quote Originally Posted by HooKooDooKu View Post
    Plan on staying at Newton Bald?
    I'm not totally sure why, but Newton Bald is one of my favorite campsites in GSMNP.
    I know, in part, what to me makes Newton Bald a cool campsite is that you're practically on a mountain top, but there's a pretty reliable natural spring at the campsite.
    ye shall not pollute the land wherein ye are: ... Defile not therefore the land which ye shall inhabit..... Numbers 35

    www.MeetUp.com/NashvilleBackpacker

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  9. #9
    Registered User Wheezy's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by HooKooDooKu View Post
    Plan on staying at Newton Bald?
    I'm not totally sure why, but Newton Bald is one of my favorite campsites in GSMNP.
    I know, in part, what to me makes Newton Bald a cool campsite is that you're practically on a mountain top, but there's a pretty reliable natural spring at the campsite.
    Great campsite, but that climb back up from the spring is steep! Was just here in March and there are several blow downs getting down to and in the vicinity of the spring.


    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk

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    Rain Man,
    A few years ago, there was a publicized relocation of the trail leaving the Smokies. The original route along the BRP (Smokies to mostly until Soco Gap) is no longer advised due to NPS closing pedestrian access to the tunnels a few years ago. There are actually 2 current official routes now out of the Smokies. There are free trail guides and updates on the MST website.

    Note: NPS still has older trail signage still up in places. The trail guides are the best info now.

    Routes-
    1. Clingmans Dome to Deep Creek campground to Bryson City to county backroads to Pinnacle Park near Sylva to Waterrock Knob. The Backroad / River Valley route.
    2. Clingmans Dome to BMT to Balsam Mountain/Heintooga area then out to BRP to Soco Gap & up to Waterrock Knob. Nicknamed the Danny Bernstein / Peak to Peak Backcountry route.


    The FMST, NPS, and CMC have been negotiating with the Cherokee Council for the last few years in permitting the MST easement rights on BIA lands in order to follow the old BRP route while circumventing the tunnels as this is the most direct route. Therefore, the FMST created the alternate routes.

    I personally go for the Backroad route as it gets you to re-supply points and you can climb up the Plotts.
    ''Tennessee Viking'
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  11. #11
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    MST is a trail not yet set in stone. The Newton Bald Tr is the Peak to Peak Route.


    At sometime, for some perhaps the Mingus Crk Tr was or and possibly still is used as the River Valley Route or a short cut of the current River Valley Route. As far as I can tell the current "official" RVR alternate is through Bryson City. I've never walked most of the RVR road walk parts.

  12. #12
    Registered User The Old Chief's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dogwood View Post
    MST is a trail not yet set in stone. The Newton Bald Tr is the Peak to Peak Route.


    At sometime, for some perhaps the Mingus Crk Tr was or and possibly still is used as the River Valley Route or a short cut of the current River Valley Route. As far as I can tell the current "official" RVR alternate is through Bryson City. I've never walked most of the RVR road walk parts.
    The Mingus Crk Trail has never been used as the River Valley Route of the current segment 1B of the MST. Segment 1B uses the Deep Creek Trail after the crossing of Deep Creek on the Fork Ridge Trail. Deep Creek Trail ends at Deep Creek Campground near Bryson City. If you used the Mingus Creek Trail for a shortcut, fine, but you wouldn't be on an official route of the MST and I don't know that it would be a shortcut.
    The original route using the Mingus Creek Trail was necessary to get the hiker as close to the Blue Ridge Parkway as possible from the beginning of the MST at Clingmans Dome. The Blue Ridge Parkway route (walking on the Parkway and walking through the tunnels) from Cherokee will never be used again. Any guides or books stating otherwise are obsolete.

  13. #13
    Registered User Tklp's Avatar
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    Default MST re-route in the GSMNP?

    Hmmmm. I just hiked the first part of Segment 1 (Clingmans to Oconaluftee VC) a couple weeks ago. All the signage and maps indicated Mingus Creek Trail as the MST (vs. Newton Bald Trail) so that's the route I took after leaving campsite 52. I guess they changed it back? When I popped out at Mingus Mill there's even a sign indicating you're on the MST, 26.7 miles from Clingmans Dome. I didn't scrutinize the interactive Friends of the MST map that closely...I hope I didn't screw it up! I want to section hike the entire MST.

  14. #14
    Registered User Tklp's Avatar
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    Default MST re-route in the GSMNP?

    Ok, I just rechecked the interactive map and confirmed that Mingus Creek Trail is indeed the official route at this time. *phew*

  15. #15
    Registered User Tennessee Viking's Avatar
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    TKLP

    Correct. The original Mingus Mill and BRP route re-opened late last year.

    I am sectioning and day hiking the MST myself.
    ''Tennessee Viking'
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