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  1. #1
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    Default Smoky Mountains 2-3 day hike

    Hey there!

    Lighthouse here! I was a 2013 NOBOer. I have been back in the "real world" ever since and still miss the trail. I am going to do a family vacation in Gatlinburg starting on Wednesday. I hit up the guy I hiked the AT with, and he is down to hike with me in the Smokies after my family vacation is over. So, we are planning on starting on Sunday, July 21 and finish on Wed, July 24. I have about a 7 hour drive back home so I am not opposed to hiking a bit on that Wednesday...as long as I get back home at a reasonable time.

    This was totally a last minute call. I do remember when I hiked the AT, the smokies was very strict with regulations and such. I also attempted to do a 3 day stint a couple years back with a friend and I remember we had to plan ahead and "reserve" some camp spots. I know we found a good loop that started at Clingmans dome that was a 2-3 day loop. I wouldn't be opposed to doing that again because when we tried it, literally the first hour into my hike I got MAULED by hornets. Probably got 40-50 stings. That being said, the next morning I was pretty red and puffy. We just decided to hike back out and not risk it. Bring BENADRYL...LESSON LEARNED!

    Anyways, does anybody know of any good 2-3 day hikes that we should do? Is it even possible now or is everything reserved? If everything is reserved, do you guys know what the penalty would be if we got "caught" staying at a full campsite?

    Thanks,

    Lighthouse

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    illabelle's Avatar
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    Sorry, but you're going to get slammed for suggesting that you might stay at a campsite without a reservation. That's a no-no.

    Anyway, here's the link where you can check the availability of space at a campsite or shelter. Since it's July, I'd opt for either high elevation (AT), or something that follows a creek.
    smokies permits
    And here's another online map. You could probably find something near Mount Sterling/Big Creek.
    smokies trail map

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    Quote Originally Posted by illabelle View Post
    Sorry, but you're going to get slammed for suggesting that you might stay at a campsite without a reservation. That's a no-no.smokies trail map
    Haha yeah...I figured. But I ask because I know when we reserved our campsites that last visit I went and got mauled by hornets...I'm pretty sure our first spot for the night was almost at capacity with the reservations. Then, when we got there I feel like there was NOBODY there. Is it a thing where people reserve the campsites and just not go for certain reasons? I know when I went to the grand canyon I was talking with somebody and I can't remember the exact scenario, but I think it was maybe the lodging at the grand canyon? There is such a long wait list that people have to book so far in advance, but then life can get in the way and they don't even end up using their spot. Is this a thing in the smokies too?

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    Registered User DSPeabody's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Popnfrsh24 View Post
    There is such a long wait list that people have to book so far in advance, but then life can get in the way and they don't even end up using their spot. Is this a thing in the smokies too?
    It can be a thing anywhere.
    Sometimes life gets in the way.
    Stuff happens. But if you are caught, you will be escorted out, so I've heard.

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    Nalgene Ninja flemdawg1's Avatar
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    If you want a 3 day loop without reservations, I suggest the Standing Indian Loop. It's outside of Franklin NC.

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    The GSMNP is full of great 2-3 day loops. And, given that you want to hike weekdays, not weekend, you should be able to find campsites available, online. If you prefer, just call the "Backcountry" rangers office. They've been great help to me. Good luck ... and better luck this time with the hornets!

    And yes, discussions on WhiteBlaze of how to get away with illegal acts are specifically forbidden in your User Agreement, thus the push-back on getting WhiteBlaze itself in trouble.
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    Definitely get a permit. The permit system is there for a reason, and people skirting around it will ruin it for the rest of us.

    Weekday reservations are easy to come by. Big Creek / Mr Sterling area is a great place to hike. So is Tremobt. I just did a two nighter around Elkmont (avoid Rough Creek trail) that was quite nice.

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    Or, if it's on your way home, look at the Big South Fork. The John Muir and Sheltowee trace trails go thru there and offer some spectacular scenery. They do require a permit, but you can camp just about anywhere. (Just don't tell anyone else about it)

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    How many MPD are you willing to do?
    If the answer is in the ball park of 10MPD (even with a 3,000'+ climb) there are several 2 night hikes you can do starting from Clingman's Dome.

    A smaller loop would be to hike down Forney Ridge Trail and hike back up Forney Creek Trail.
    A larger loop would be to hike out the AT, down Welch and Jonus Creek to #70 the 1st night, Forney Creek to White Oak Br to LakeShore thru tunnel at the end of the road to "Nowhere", 3/4 mile road walk to get to Noland Creek to around #62 the 2nd night, then on up to Noland Ridge, turn right onto the road heading away from Clingman's Dome... when you come to the "gap" about 3/4 mile away, you can jump on the AT and hike back up to Clingman's Dome observation Tower.

    All the campsites in this area currently have availability for the time frame you're talking about.

    As of a few years ago, you must get a reservation for every campsite you stay at, and the permit cost $4 per person per night. Some campsites are very popular and can be difficult to get a reservation for (such as the one on top of LeConte anywhere near a weekend). But otherwise, except for major holidays, you can usually get a permit for something even pretty last minute if your trip doesn't include a particularly popular campsite.

    Here's a direct link to the website where you can obtain and pay for a permit... it will allow you to see for yourself what campsites are available where: https://smokiespermits.nps.gov/index...PermitTypeID=1

  10. #10
    Registered User Red Sky's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by flemdawg1 View Post
    If you want a 3 day loop without reservations, I suggest the Standing Indian Loop. It's outside of Franklin NC.
    That's a great section of trail.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Popnfrsh24 View Post
    Haha yeah...I figured. But I ask because I know when we reserved our campsites that last visit I went and got mauled by hornets...I'm pretty sure our first spot for the night was almost at capacity with the reservations. Then, when we got there I feel like there was NOBODY there. Is it a thing where people reserve the campsites and just not go for certain reasons? I know when I went to the grand canyon I was talking with somebody and I can't remember the exact scenario, but I think it was maybe the lodging at the grand canyon? There is such a long wait list that people have to book so far in advance, but then life can get in the way and they don't even end up using their spot. Is this a thing in the smokies too?
    Yeah, I think people don't bother to cancel reservations because they don't get their money back in the process. A bit of a "screw you" to the Park Service. So shelters and campsites frequently show as more full than they actually are. How much that would matter on the ground on any given day with any given ranger is hard to say, but it is never legal to camp outside the system and the fines are pretty steep.

    You can check availability here https://smokiespermits.nps.gov/. I seem to remember some pretty good 2-3 day loops in the northeast section of the Park (Cosby, Greenbrier areas) which is (or used to be) less crowded. You might check them out.

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    Yeah, I think people don't bother to cancel reservations because they don't get their money back in the process. A bit of a "screw you" to the Park Service.


    how is it a "screw you" to the Park service?


    sorta like---"screw you, NPS, here's my 4 bucks"...........

  13. #13

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    Quote Originally Posted by TNhiker View Post
    how is it a "screw you" to the Park service?


    sorta like---"screw you, NPS, here's my 4 bucks"...........
    I guess the park canít make an additional $4 for the spot? And if itís multiple nights, itís more than $4. Enough people doing that can add up.

    But I suspect itís more a case of indifference...Ēhey, itís just $4, who cares? Not worth my time to call to cancel.Ē
    Personally, Iíve always called to cancel my reservation. I think you can use it within 30 days?
    Last edited by Traffic Jam; 07-17-2019 at 18:17.

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by TNhiker View Post
    how is it a "screw you" to the Park service?
    It's a "screw you" to fellow hikers on the wait list (that is, watching for a campsite to open up).
    ye shall not pollute the land wherein ye are: ... Defile not therefore the land which ye shall inhabit..... Numbers 35

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    Quote Originally Posted by Rain Man View Post
    It's a "screw you" to fellow hikers on the wait list (that is, watching for a campsite to open up).
    That is true....

    but in no way does the Park Service really get screwed over.....

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    Quote Originally Posted by Rain Man View Post
    If you prefer, just call the "Backcountry" rangers office. They've been great help to me. Good luck ... and better luck this time with the hornets!
    Thanks for all of the information guys!! I actually think we did attempt the Forney Creek loop...thatís where I got mauled by the hornets

    I think calling this office would be the best because they would be able to set us up with a good loop with relative ease, which I am all about.

    Iím going to look for this phone number now..but if I canít find it, do you know where I can find it?


    Also my friend suggested that the Big Creek loop might be pretty awesome. Any thoughts on that?

    Thanks,

    Lighthouse

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    Quote Originally Posted by Popnfrsh24 View Post
    Thanks for all of the information guys!! I actually think we did attempt the Forney Creek loop...that’s where I got mauled by the hornets

    I think calling this office would be the best because they would be able to set us up with a good loop with relative ease, which I am all about.

    I’m going to look for this phone number now..but if I can’t find it, do you know where I can find it?


    Also my friend suggested that the Big Creek loop might be pretty awesome. Any thoughts on that?

    Thanks,

    Lighthouse
    865-436-1297. Phone number was in first paragraph of the Smokies Permits link provided earlier.
    Husband and I did the Big Creek Loop a while back. Below is a link to a WB thread about that trip.
    https://whiteblaze.net/forum/showthr...ter?highlight=

  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by TNhiker View Post
    That is true....

    but in no way does the Park Service really get screwed over.....
    Yes, that's obvious. I'm just relating that I've had two separate people say to me "screw them" in that situation, and my sense was that they were referring to the Park Service. Clearly, nothing that resembles thought is behind that statement. And none of that really matters; my actual point was to the guy asking if failing to cancel reservations was "a thing", and I was just confirming that it definitely is.

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