I'm going to hike the Smokies next month and wanted to run my basic itinerary past folks who know this area before I call in my reservations. I had originally planned to do it in 6 days but the 4th day was going to be LONG...from Mt. Collins Shelter to Peck Shelter which is 15 miles without the .5 miles trip to the shelters. I think now that I'm going to get off at Newfound Gap on Day 4 and get a shower, bed and meal and shuttle back up for the last three days. Also this will be in October with shorter days so I don't want to put in a 16 mile day if I can help it... I'm not super fast but plug along and generally can stay focused and on schedule. I did Winding Stair to Fontana last fall and found it pretty challenging.
Anyway here is my basic plan.
I hope to stay at Standing Bear Hostel after driving in the night before and get a shuttle to Fontana and hike NOBO. I think this first day will be fairly easy but it sets me up for a nicer hike later:
Fontana to Birch Springs Gap Campsite 5.6 miles
Birch Springs Gap to Spence Field Shelter 10.8 miles
Spence to Silers Bald Shelter 11.8 miles
**someone said on another thread that Double Spring Gap is a nicer shelter? Does it make sense to put that extra 1.7 miles for a nicer shelter? It does set me up to have more time to visit on Clingman's Dome the next day...
Silers Bald to Newfound Gap 12.5 miles
**can anyone tell me if the shuttles run through October?
OK last 3 days:
Newfound Gap to Peck Shelter 10.4 miles
Peck Shelter to Cosby Knob 12.9 miles
Cosby Knob to Green Corner Rd/Hostel 10.4 miles
Also, how is the water this Fall? I remember last Fall it was very scarce. I carried a lot of water on my section just south of that and it was a major factor.
Thanks for any feedback.