View Full Version : Trail Info: Toll House Gap to Dennis Cove

02-15-2015, 11:32
So, a few buddies and I are looking at the section from Toll House Gap to Dennis Cove as a weekend hike later next month (March). I have already hiked up to US19, but it's been a couple of years, and I have a few more questions...

First off, I am hoping that around mid March, this will still be a little ways ahead of most thru hikers, but I imagine there will already be some up to this point... what say you on the thru hiking crowd at ~ 375 miles into the trail at mid March? I am a bit concerned about this as there will potentially be as many as 10 in my group...

Next, I would like to hike this section NOBO so that we can start off with the views, and also so that most of the hike is downhill... If so, is the parking at Toll House Gap open in Mid March... if I am thinking of the right place. When we went through in mid October a few years back, we came to a parking area with bathrooms on top of Roan where the old Cloudland Hotel used to be. Is this Toll House Gap, and if so, when does it open and is it a safe place (or even an option) to leave a vehicle?

One of the nights, I am looking at staying at the Elk River Campsite. I have read that it is a somewhat large area, which will be nice for a bigger group (a mixture of ground dwellers and sky hangers). Is this assumption correct? Is it a fairly large campground?

And lastly, how is the parking right at Dennis Cove? Safe? Looking at a map, I see that there is "Lodging" and a "Mail Drop" among other things about 0.4 miles off the trail, is there safe places that allow parking in this area?

Anyway, thanks for any help you can provide. If I come up with any other questions, I will post!

02-15-2015, 12:58
To answer some of my own questions, I contacted Bob Peeples at Kincora Hostel... I didn't realize that was a hostel at Dennis Cove... Bob seems really nice though, very helpful!

So, for anyone else with the same questions,

The Parking area at Toll House Gap (he said it was called something else) is not open till around May, so Carvers Gap is indeed the next best option.

Also, he provides an area to safely park vehicles at his place. So, at this point, I am thinking of driving to his place for the night, then getting a shuttle to Carvers Gap the next day and simply hike back to our cars. Also, this seems like a great place to start/stop because of Bob's services!

02-15-2015, 15:09
There will be 100's of people starting out on or about March 1st. It's not too likely any will make it that far north in a couple of weeks. If you do see any thru hikers, they will be the few hardy souls who started in mid Feb.

Keep in mind the weather there can be really rotten in mid March. If you don't have a good weather window for the trip, you might want to cancel it at the last minute. Going from Overmountain shelter to the Elk river campsite in bad weather would be one really hard day. A lot of exposed trail in that stretch, but great views on a clear day.

I've walked by the Elk river campsite numerous times, but never stopped to check it out. You can probably find enough room for 10 or less people. Bob can squeeze a fair number of hikers in the back of his pickup truck but with packs I'd say it would have to be limited to 5, maybe 6 at the most. Depending on how big your group is you might have to take one of your cars down there too and then go back for it at the end of the trip.

02-15-2015, 22:17
@Slo-go'en Thanks for the info! I was thinking the same about the thru's, but wasn't sure. I know that a number of folks still start sometime in February too, but I think that will put us far enough ahead to miss many of them...

And yeah, I will come up with an alternate hike plan to being that that section is exposed. I will say that after talking with Bob today, I learned that the parking on top of Roan doesn't open till May-ish, so we will start at Carvers Gap now. Even on top of Roan, that was going to make for a short, 8 mile day (assuming good conditions), but now from Carvers, it is only like 5.5 miles... So, chances are, we will hike on a little farther, which would shorten day 2 also. I dunno though, we will just have to wait and see...

According to Bob, he can fit 10 in his truck, but again, that depends on the weather as I think some will be in the back... At the moment though, a number of folks want to go, but in reality, as time closes in, few have to cancel... We will see though...

02-15-2015, 22:57
All but one will be in the back. I've been in the back of Bob's truck with 10 people and no packs (except mine). I hope your all really, really skinny! Unless he got a new truck, it's a short bed pick up with a cap.

Carvers gap to Overmountian shelter is still a good walk. With a group and likely a late start, that is far enough for day one. Going any farther is not a good idea as you will quickly come upon the "Humps" which are exposed balds.

02-16-2015, 17:45
@ Slo-go'en I believe he said he had a larger truck now. He was pretty confident that 10 people would be no problem to get in the truck. I didn't ask him about packs too, but I was asking for a shuttle to start a hike, so I assumed he considered those in too...

I figure we should be started by 9 am hiking, and as I remember it, the hike from Carvers to Overmountain wasn't difficult, but being scenic, we did take our time. I am sure that with bad weather, it would be a little tougher, but those of us going are accustomed to hiking long days, so I don't think we will have that difficult of a time. I was actually thinking of the campsite at Little Hump as an alternative, but as I mentioned, I would really like to stay at Overmountain again... but at less than 6 miles, I would rather grab a few more miles to shorten the second day. Again, it all depends on the weather though...

02-16-2015, 18:45
Bob Peoples is one of the best people on the trail. Kincora is an institution.

Be prepared for very cold weather in mid March. It will likely be very windy on the balds, and all three March hikes I did up there were very cold and sometimes brutally cold.

Definitely stop for the first night at Overmountain. The barn is a fine place to stay, plus there are some decent tent sites on the trail down to it.

02-16-2015, 22:27
@bigcranky Bob seemed like a really friendly guy, I look forward to meeting him!

And yeah, those few little camp spots right before the Overmountain Shelter is why I wanted to stay there to begin with... Last time I was there we actually stayed in the shelter, well, on those platforms on the bottom... Those camp spots looked so good though!

Anyway, another option we could do is just finish our hike at US19 again. This would only be a 25 mile hike over 3.5 days, and we could take it nice and easy for sure!