View Full Version : Stealth camping in GSMNP

Roll Tide
09-07-2015, 16:41
First off I know that stealth camping is illegal in GSMNP. I was jut wondering how many hikers actually do it?

09-07-2015, 17:12
Now if theyre stealth, theyre not just gonna come forward and tell you, so the answer can never be known with any real accuracy. Could be 1. Could be 5,632.

09-07-2015, 17:44
The terrain isnt very suitable along AT . Unless have a hammock.

Discussion of illegal activities is also violation of tos of this site and can get you reprimanded.

Del Q
09-07-2015, 18:15
Not that I would know anything about this but I have heard that there are plenty of stealth camping spots in the Smokies.

09-07-2015, 20:21
There was a ridge-runner last summer that would turn a blind eye to hammock hangers going off in the woods at night and then returning to the shelter the next morning (as if the were night hiking?).

Kinda defeats the whole purpose of of having ridge-runners.

09-07-2015, 20:27
I have personally seen stealth campers ticketed in the Smokies.

As a backpacker, you have a responsibility to abide by the rules, whether you like them or not.

09-07-2015, 21:12
It depends on what you mean by stealth camping. If what you intend to mean is intentionally engaging in illegal activity or camping that is not my intention and does not meet my definition of stealth camping in this case. I loathe discussing this here publicly on WB. Although GSMNP is very hush hush and reluctant to talk about or offer it, you can camp at large by special permission with off trail hiking permits. Off trail hiking is not something I recommend in GSMNP though. It's like a jungle out there in many areas. Also, under emergency situations I've stealthed in old barns and cabins in GSMNP which are often reserved for NPS personnel, possibly trail maintenance crews, scientists, etc for emergency shelter. They would be considered historical sites and definitely off limits for camping. AGAIN, these were highly unusual emergency situations and strict LNT cowboy camping was involved. I once stealthed under a picnic pavilion in GSMNP after injuring myself. Slept in the tunnel to nowhere one time too, again in an emergency situation, a white out.

09-07-2015, 22:35
What is stealth camping, and what are ridge-runners?


09-07-2015, 22:53
What is stealth camping, and what are ridge-runners?


Stealth camping , is basically camping in a manner where you dont want to be noticed or seen. After that, it can be for different reasons, legal, or illegal.

By definition, people camping illegally (private property or forbidden areas) would probably not want to be noticed. An example of legal stealth camping would be near a road crossing to avoid trouble from locals.

Ridge runners are goodwill LNT ambassadors , employed by ATC or NPS. They have no authority for enforcement, and unfortunately do a lot of picking up behind hikers. Their job is to hike their section several times a season, and preach LNT and good behaviors to hikers they meet. They may cover up to 100 miles sections or so. They generally pack out a lot of trash too. Usually people with a lot of affection for the trail.

In gsmnp ridgerunners have radios to contact rangers if needed. If i remember correctly, they are employeed by the park there. They can check shelter permits, and issue them. They also manage privys in gsmnp. During the bubble, they keep things under control somewhat by the threat of notifying a ranger.

09-07-2015, 23:25
If I'm recalling correctly as it was explained to me GSMNP has three AT ridge runners they employ. Two are basically early season only employees. The third is a longer term employee.

MW, thank you for making the distinctions between legal and illegal stealth camping. Some mistakenly believe all stealth camping is done as as an intentional act of illegality.

09-07-2015, 23:31
Thank you for the information.

09-07-2015, 23:37
With the heightened numbers of NOBO AT thru-hikers the well informed knowledgable GSMNP staff is taking additional measures at increasing enforcement of this segment of its visitor group. In addition to ridge runners, both uniformed NPS Rangers and plane clothed under cover law enforcement patrol the GSMNP trails. Abide by the rules and make it easier for yourself, the trail community, all GSMNP visitors, and the special place that is GSMNP.

09-08-2015, 05:20
Always watch out for those "plane clothed under cover law enforcement patrol". They can fly up on you pretty quick

09-08-2015, 06:20
First off I know that stealth camping is illegal in GSMNP. I was jut wondering how many hikers actually do it?

Silly questions, everyone knows that answer. 63.

09-08-2015, 10:59
Because you are required to camp at designated locations, it doesn't matter what your exact definition of "stealth" camping is... it's going to be illegal in GSMNP.

The closest thing to an exception is going to be the "cross-country" permits Dogwood mentioned... and those have lots of restrictions, including being at least 1/2 mile from any back country trail.

IMHO, much of this thread is against to TOS (4. Discussions involving how to commit illegal acts...are forbidden.)

Don't 'EXPECT' to be able to hang a hammock along the AT in GSMNP. The ONLY legal way to do so would if IF you have a thru-hiker permit AND the shelter you are at is FULL, THEN you can hang a hammock in the general vicinity of the shelter (it may NOT be attached to the shelter) as hammocks are treated the same as tents when it comes to the rules of where they are (and are not) permitted.

09-08-2015, 15:03
One needs to follow the regulations and it's against the TOS to discuss illegal camping. Thread closed.