View Full Version : how to best arrange permits?

01-20-2015, 23:42
I was skimming through the Thru-hikers Companion and noticed that there are a couple parks where permits are required, for example the Smokies and Shenandoah. Since the Smokies will come in the first month, it's easy to arrange for that permit before I leave, but I have no idea when I'll be reaching the Shenandoahs. Since I haven't seen much talk about this, I'm guessing people just find a computer in the towns just before the park?

01-21-2015, 00:09
Thru-hikers in Shenandoah just have to fill it out at the border .... it isn't as restrictive as the Smokies. However, even in the Smokies thru-hikers don't have to have reservations.

Rain Man
01-21-2015, 12:23
Thru-hikers in Shenandoah just have to fill it out at the border ....

When I hiked the SNP in '07, there was a kiosk on the trail near Rockfish Gap, with a permit form to fill out.

There was supposedly a similar set-up for the Smokeys, but I never saw it. Of course, I had gotten my permit in advance, so didn't really have to search for it anyway.

Of course, you could go straight to "the horse's mouth" and contact the SNP office to confirm current data?

01-21-2015, 14:44
GSMNP used to be similar to the kiosk setup Rain Man and Turtle mention above for SNP.

But last year (or was it 2013) a new PAY system was setup. This system is a little different for AT-Thru hikers than it is general backers in GSMNP.

You must use the GSMNP online website to register and pay for your permit. The permit will cost $20. You must be able to receive an email that will provide you a link to a website where you will be provided a PDF of your permit that you must print. Once you pay for the permit, you have 30 days to enter GSMNP.

Your permit should have two parts. At the entrance to GSMNP, you should find a drop-box where you are supposed to date the 2nd part of your permit and leave it in the drop box. You then have 7 nights/8 days to hike the GSMNP. The permit is only valid for staying at shelters (and the one campsite) located along the AT. However, unlike general backpackers, you do not have to obtain a reservation for each shelter/campsite you plan to stay at.

Only a certain number of spots at each shelter are reserved for AT thru hikers. If the shelter is NOT full, you are required to sleep in the shelter. If the shelter is full, AT thru hikers are expected to give up their spot in the shelter to those holding a General backpacking permit. Only when the shelters are full are AT thru hikers allowed to tent in the general vicinity of the shelter. Hammocks are treated to the same rules as tents, and hammocks can not be attached to any part of a shelter or other structure.

That means that you basically have to have access to an internet connection and a printer within 30 days of the day you plan to enter GSMNP.

01-21-2015, 15:54
Which means you need to get your permit for GSMNP before leaving Springer.
Only 167 miles from Springer will put you well within the 30 day grace period.

01-21-2015, 19:39
As an alternative, if you are on trail and have failed or been unable to get a permit ahead of time. There are libraries with internet access and printers in Hiawassee and Franklin.

99 South Berrong St GA has free WiFi and guest internet access.

149 Siler Farm Rd. Franklin NC and is very hiker friendly, and has an entire program timed with the nobo bubble focusing on hiker services and benefits to the community.