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  1. #1

    Default Best small Section hike in TN?

    My SO surprised me with a trip to Gatlinburg TN. I can't help but notice its close proximity to the AT. Unfortunately my dreams of thruhiking are crushed by corporate America.

    I would like to devote a solid day(8h) to do a tiny piece of the AT during my trip! My 11y/o is also very excited to tag along. She is an experienced hiker and Ive told her everything Ive learned about the AT in hopes of her one day hiking her own hike!

    Anyhow, What are some good start/stop points near Gatlinburg TN? Or maybe there are some great scenic loop trails in that area that would be a better choice?

  2. #2
    4eyedbuzzard's Avatar
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    8 hours including driving to/from Gatlinburg (about < 1 hr each way, more if traffic)? April 1 to Nov 30 (Dome road closed in winter)? Rt 441 (east) from Gatlinburg. Follow signs to Clingmans Dome Road. Park at Clingmans Dome Visitor Center. Check out the observation tower. Hike AT SOBO to Double Springs Gap Shelter, have lunch there, hike back. About 2.5+ miles hiking each way.

    For a longer hike (not on the AT), there's the Alum Cave, Mt Leconte hike. Parking is right off of Rt 441 (Alum Cave Bluff Trail head), about 1/2 hr out of Gatlinburg. About 11 miles total out and back. Many turn around at the Cave (1/2 way) and don't climb Leconte as the trail gets steeper/tougher. Pretty hike though, and if the weather is typical GSMNP foggy/hazy, the local scenery makes up for it. This would be my choice for a "longish" day hike.

    Both are popular hiking routes - go early, parking can be problematic at Alum Cave trailhead.

    There's a lot of other great hikes in GSMNP. These are just two that came to mind. Other WB members know the area better than me, and may have better suggestions.

  3. #3
    Registered User Tennessee Viking's Avatar
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    There is not a lot ATaccess in the Smokies for day trip options.

    If Clingmans is open, you can go NOBO to Newfound Gap.

    Or an In/Out of Newfound Gap to Charles Bunion.

    Or climb from Cosby CG to Low Gap and then out to Davenport Gap/I40.


    For non-AT hikes,
    Rainbow Falls (depends if the trail is open)
    Deep Creek
    BMT from Big Creek

    Check out hikingproject for various hikes in the Smokies.
    ''Tennessee Viking'
    Mountains to Sea Trail Maintainer
    Former TEHCC (AT) Maintainer
    Falls Lake Trail: 2011

  4. #4
    GSMNP 900 Miler
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    If your main goal is to hike a section of the AT, then from New Found Gap, follow the AT north bound to the popular view at Charlie's Bunion (4 miles one way). If 8 miles is a bit much, then instead hike as far as Icewater spring shelter, have a lunch there, then on the way back, see if you can manage the side hike to "The Jumpoff" (3/4 mile deadend trail that starts 1/10 mile down Boulevard from its intersection with AT.

  5. #5

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    The Charlie's Bunion hike is the best bang for the buck. Easy to throw in Clingmans dome too.
    The AT - It has it's ups and downs...

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    Default Best small Section hike in TN?

    3rd vote for Charlie's Bunion from Newfound Gap. Awesome views, easy-ish hike and will fill a day if you take your time and enjoy it.

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mockernut View Post
    3rd vote for Charlie's Bunion from Newfound Gap. Awesome views, easy-ish hike and will fill a day if you take your time and enjoy it.
    4th vote
    Charlie's Bunion is well worth the effort.

  8. #8
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    5th vote

    That is where I take friends for their first hike.

  9. #9

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    Yeah me too, if going soon watch out for ice. This is a good section to use traction devices if below freezing.

  10. #10
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    When? Gotta know time of year.
    ye shall not pollute the land wherein ye are: ... Defile not therefore the land which ye shall inhabit..... Numbers 35

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    my suggestion if the road is open to clingmans (as it was noted above, not sure when OP is doing this trip) is to go up to clingmans and then down to double springs or silers and then back....

    the AT rides the ridge in that section and has great views if not socked in....

    i really enjoy that stretch.....

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    Quote Originally Posted by ken209 View Post
    5th vote

    That is where I take friends for their first hike.
    6th vote with a word of caution... Make sure your 11yo is very careful around Charlie's Bunion. It wouldn't be hard to fall.

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by FlyPaper View Post
    6th vote with a word of caution... Make sure your 11yo is very careful around Charlie's Bunion. It wouldn't be hard to fall.
    So long at the 11yo has a sense of "self preservation", it's not that easy to fall either.

    In other words, Charlie's Bunion isn't any more dangerous than any other part of GSMNP with an exposed rocky outcropping. So long as you pay attention to what you're doing, you'll be save.

    But FlyPaper's words are good word to heed if you take a rambunctious child that's likely to just start climbing a rock without paying attention to where they are.

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    Quote Originally Posted by HooKooDooKu View Post
    So long at the 11yo has a sense of "self preservation", it's not that easy to fall either.

    In other words, Charlie's Bunion isn't any more dangerous than any other part of GSMNP with an exposed rocky outcropping. So long as you pay attention to what you're doing, you'll be save.

    But FlyPaper's words are good word to heed if you take a rambunctious child that's likely to just start climbing a rock without paying attention to where they are.
    Take it for what it's worth. There were a few places in the northern half of GSMNP, including I think one place at CB, that made me more nervous in that you could fall seemingly through or under a bush and land 1000' below. But you're right in that almost all around Charlie's Bunion are just your garden variety shear drop off not unlike numerous other places on the trail.

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    Quote Originally Posted by FlyPaper View Post
    Take it for what it's worth. There were a few places in the northern half of GSMNP, including I think one place at CB, that made me more nervous in that you could fall seemingly through or under a bush and land 1000' below. But you're right in that almost all around Charlie's Bunion are just your garden variety shear drop off not unlike numerous other places on the trail.
    I've been backpacking in GSMNP with my kids since they were 6yo. The only time I've ever been nervous with them was several years ago along a 100 yard section of the trail between Abrams Falls and Campsite #17. At this particular point, the trail is about 200' above the river, and at the time, a small fire had burned all the vegetation on the hillside. The trail is only about 1' wide, and if you step off the trail, you were going all the way down to the river.
    (Since this time, enough vegetation has regrown that the same spot isn't so scary).

    But then again, I've always instilled a healthy dose of fear in my kids when we're in the back country, understanding that that you're responsible for keeping yourself safe in the back country, because if you do fall and get hurt, help can be hours (and possibly days) away.

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