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  1. #1
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    Default Feedback on GSMNP 3-Day Loop #12/#13/#113

    Long time reader; first time poster. Have plans to do this 3-night trip later this month and would welcome any feedback, suggestions, etc.

    Arriving late afternoon/early evening and going from Forge Creek Road to #12. Doing short day two to Gregory Bald/#13. Long (for me) day 3 Wolf Ridge to Twentymile Loop to Twentymile to AT to #113. Day 4 up AT to Gregory Bald backtracking to Forge Creek.

    First time solo in the Smokies... looking forward to it!

    Todd

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    IMHO, day 3 is way too much (at least it is for me).

    Do you do realize that day 2 is over 12 miles, and that you're going to drop from about 4650 down below 1850, only to hoof it back up to 3850? Plus, you're going to want to allow some time to stop by Shuckstack Fire Tower at the intersection of the AT.

    If you wanted to stick to three days, yet hike a much shorter distance, you might consider starting at Twentymile Ranger station and do 93, 113, 13. You still get the Shuckstack Fire Tower and Gregory Bald. The only thing you miss out on the hiking Gregory Ridge Trail.

    Another way to make it shorter, yet still get to hike Gregory Ridge Trail would be to still do 12, 13, 113, but rather than going down Wolf Ridge, take the AT to #113. The over all distance is much shorter (even adding the extra 2+ miles round trip to go from 113 to Shuckstack tower and back) and you don't loose as much elevation. Of course you don't get to see as much as the park... but then again, I've already given my opinion on Wolf Ridge. (I have not done Twentymile Loop trail, so I don't know what that is like).

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    Quote Originally Posted by HooKooDooKu View Post
    ...Of course you don't get to see as much as the park... but then again, I've already given my opinion on Wolf Ridge...
    Ok, so I thought I did...

    I've done the Twentymile Ranger Station to Gregory Bald and back as a two night loop twice. The 1st time was 92 and 13, the 2nd was 113 and 13. Both times, the hike down Wolf Ridge just seemed to take forever without much to see. Of course you're plan cuts off the last mile and a half, but then you've got that 2 miles strait up hill to reach the AT.

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    Quote Originally Posted by HooKooDooKu View Post
    ...Of course you don't get to see as much as the park... but then again, I've already given my opinion on Wolf Ridge...
    Ok, so I thought I did...

    I've done the Twentymile Ranger Station to Gregory Bald and back as a two night loop twice. The 1st time was 92 and 13, the 2nd was 113 and 13. Both times, the hike down Wolf Ridge just seemed to take forever without much to see. Of course you're plan cuts off the last mile and a half, but then you've got that 2 miles strait up hill to reach the AT.

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    Much thanks for your feedback, HooKooDooKu! Yes, planned day 3 mileage (approx. 12.8) was/is probably my biggest concern. My backup plan is to backtrack on Gregory Bald to Long Hungry Ridge and take that down to Twentymile to AT (approx. 8.1).

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    Twenty mile ranger station is a better starting point than the back of cades cove because of the traffic.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Buckeye_Todd View Post
    Much thanks for your feedback, HooKooDooKu! Yes, planned day 3 mileage (approx. 12.8) was/is probably my biggest concern. My backup plan is to backtrack on Gregory Bald to Long Hungry Ridge and take that down to Twentymile to AT (approx. 8.1).
    That's obviously much better mileage. But it still puts a huge huge decent/re-assent in the middle of your trip. I personally hate the notion of climbing the same moutain twice in one trip.

    The book "Hiking Trails of the Smokies" starts it's description of Gregory Ridge Trail with the words "This has been and probably will always be on of the finest hikes in the Great Smoky Moutains." So if one of the goals of your trip is to hike that trail, then your plans sound good... a pain to climb the moutain twice, but good.

    However, if your real goal is to spend a couple of nights in the Smokies that includes camping at Sheeps Pen Gag (#13), then I would suggest a loop from Twentymile Ranger station.

    The shortest/easiest loop is Twentymile Trail to Long Hungary Ridge, returning on Wolf Ridge. This loop could be done in a single night. However, you can also stay at #92 so that you can get a couple of miles in the 1st day and save the big climb for the second day.

    The longer loop is Twentymile Trail to the AT and returning on Wolf Ridge. This loop can easily be done in two nights staying at #113 & #13... if you can get an early start the 1st day. But it can also be a great three night loop by getting a late start the 1st day and only hiking to #93 the 1st night (the same way you currently plan to only hike to #12). The great thing about this loop is the trip to Shuckstack Fire Tower. While it can be a bit nerve wracking, the view from the top of the tower is great.

  8. #8

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    Sheep Pen Gap/Gregory Bald is a wonderful area. #13 is also very popular and is a rationed site. For weekends, during April-September, it usually has to be reserved out 30 days ahead. It also is closed from time to time for bear activity, so you need to check the list before committing to much to the logistics ahead of time. (My wife lost her pack to a bear at #13 back in the 90s.)

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    already confirmed my reservations for #13/#113 so i'm good there... and yes, starting from twentymile was/is best option (and still pondering that change), but was hoping to meet family post-hike @cades cove... will be coming in late thursday afternoon so hoping traffic will be on the light side. going to trust my experience on day 2 to determine day 3 route given distance and elevation/terrain... would prefer not to backtack the 1+ mile either, but will do that if i have serious doubts about about ability to do the longer mileage. fwiw, for background/perspective... i'm a 46 yr old male 5'10, 160 lacking in seasoned "trail legs", but run 20+ and bike 80+ miles/week... 4/60 in triathlon this past weekend... in shape and want to challenge myself, but don't want to race the trail (or the sun) and don't want to take foolish risks. regardless, totally looking forward to the experience!

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    The back-track of a mile isn't a big deal in my book. It's just the climbing the same moutain... .

    If you're family doesn't mind the extra driving (and especially if they have an SUV), you could start at TwentyMile, hike to #113 then to #13, and rather than coming back down Wolf Ridge, you could come down Gregory Ridge, have them pick you up, and drive out Parson's Branch Road to get you back to your car.

  11. #11

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    Quote Originally Posted by HooKooDooKu View Post
    The back-track of a mile isn't a big deal in my book. It's just the climbing the same moutain... .

    If you're family doesn't mind the extra driving (and especially if they have an SUV), you could start at TwentyMile, hike to #113 then to #13, and rather than coming back down Wolf Ridge, you could come down Gregory Ridge, have them pick you up, and drive out Parson's Branch Road to get you back to your car.
    Not a bad plan. I've done it before with a group and it worked, although the Parson's/129 shuttle is a bit painful...

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