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GeoRed
11-24-2014, 15:15
I have a chance to hike the last week of next March and I'd like some help. I was going to hike the GSMNP SoBo at first, but I'm worried I'll be hitting the Smokies the same time as the initial Thru-hike wave and the shelters could be overcrowded. I've already hiked the area around Hot Springs, Damascus, and Erwin. So that leaves the Smokies as the last big range on the southern half of the AT. I'm not apposed to re-hiking the Roan Range again above Erwin, it was beautiful and there'll be a chance of snow which would be really cool. My questions are, "Would there be many thru-hikers around Erwin by the end of March and what about other ideas for a hike around that time of year?" I've considered the last few sections of the CT before you arrive in Denver and northern AT, but weather might be too extreme.

Coffee
11-24-2014, 15:24
I hiked from Rockfish Gap at the southern end of SNP to Boiling Springs, PA starting in mid April this year, a few weeks into spring beyond when you are thinking of hiking. There was only one hard freeze on the first night (measured by my water bottles turning into ice cubes) and the rest of the time temperatures were pretty moderate. I have hiked in SNP in mid-late March before and it seemed quite a bit colder. I think that a few weeks can make a big difference at that time of year. I'm not sure how SNP and northern Virginia compares to the Smokies at that time of year.

Slo-go'en
11-24-2014, 15:47
Way too many variables to even guess, but I will anyway. The last week of March is a bit early for most thru-hikers to begin to show up in the Smokies. It takes most about 3 weeks to get to Fontana dam, so the ones likely to be there are the ones who started March 1st and if there hasn't been any weather issues to slow them down. So, my guess is it won't be too busy. However, if the last week of March is also a school spring break week, that changes the whole dynamics.

But since you will have to get reservations, your guaranteed a slot. And if the shelter does fill up, those who don't want to shelter will have a legal excuse to tent.

RED-DOG
11-24-2014, 16:42
their will not be many Thru-hikers in the smokies at the end of march, since you're going SOBO you're shelter selections will be different from theirs so you really shouldn't have any issues but what will effect you is college students that will be on break and section hikers, I would suggest that you take a tent and be prepared to use it and enjoy you're hike. expect to see snow and cold temps

and no their should be no thru-hikers in the Erwin TN area oh maybe a couple that left in FEB, expect cold temps to moderate temps and maybe a little snow/Rain.

How about the SNP you should be alone for the most part, don't expect any of the waysides to be open, here the weather is a mix bag expect to see Rain, snow, sleet, cold temps to moderate temps.

earlyriser26
11-25-2014, 11:46
I hiked the Smokies years ago in Mid-March and had 5 feet of snow to deal with. You might find a few crazy thru hikers at that time of year, but not many.

HooKooDooKu
11-25-2014, 16:11
The weather in GSMNP is so varied that there is no way today to even guess what the weather will be like in a given week in March this far in advance.

GSMNP is far enough south that on any given day (even in the middle of winter) the odds are there will not be snow on the ground. But at the same time, GSMNP is far enough north that it is possible to have several feet of snow on the mountains any time between November and April.

The only thing that can be said about the weather in late March is that the climate average calls for hi/lo of about 65/38 in the valleys, 50/30 on the mountains, with actual temperatures likely to be +/-15 from those numbers.