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View Full Version : Smokies AT Fontana to Davenport gap logistics...recs please



saltysack
11-23-2020, 12:57
Itís been far too long! I havenít hiked since September thrus of HST and WRHR. Planning to get my 14 yr old out to knock out the SMNP section over Xmas break. Any cheaper shuttle options? Called standing bear...I realize itís a long shuttle but $170 is tough to swallow. Nobo or sobo? Assume sobo as have left my truck at dam with no issues and shower access at end is a plus before that long drive home. Thinking 4-5 days depending on weather.


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TNhiker
11-23-2020, 14:11
170 for that distance and time is a good deal, imo...

i doubt you'll find it cheaper......

unless some private person wants to do it for cheaper than that.....

for reference, i had a shuttle for just me, from the marina at fontana to clingmans parking lot and
that was $100.........and 7 years ago....

JNI64
11-23-2020, 14:37
It's typically $1 per mile i think , and that of course is round trip miles for them.

steve_zavocki
11-23-2020, 15:17
Call Julie at 317-417-5351. She charges $10 per pick up and $1 per mile one way. Recently used her (her husband actually drove us) and they were great. Rid was way, way cheaper than Standing Bear.

Our shuttle was from Standing Bear to Newfound Gap, but I would imagine that they would go to Fontana, but of course you should confirm with them.

saltysack
11-23-2020, 15:40
Thx for the info. I totally get why so expensive just hoping can find cheaper....these days itís cheaper to fly out west and hike than drive/shuttle on AT...


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Tennessee Viking
11-23-2020, 16:28
Seeing how many shuttle services stopping during these Covid times, you might have to take what you get. Most of my shuttle contacts for the Smokies stopped or limited their services.

Other possibility is hit up the Meetup or Social Media pages in finding another person to hike with you and park at the other end.

Hit up the Smoky Mtn Hiking or Carolina Mtn clubs and see if there are any members helping out with shuttles.

saltysack
11-23-2020, 16:57
Call Julie at 317-417-5351. She charges $10 per pick up and $1 per mile one way. Recently used her (her husband actually drove us) and they were great. Rid was way, way cheaper than Standing Bear.

Our shuttle was from Standing Bear to Newfound Gap, but I would imagine that they would go to Fontana, but of course you should confirm with them.

Perfect! She will do it for $113....thx all


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saltysack
11-23-2020, 17:00
Seeing how many shuttle services stopping during these Covid times, you might have to take what you get. Most of my shuttle contacts for the Smokies stopped or limited their services.

Other possibility is hit up the Meetup or Social Media pages in finding another person to hike with you and park at the other end.

Hit up the Smoky Mtn Hiking or Carolina Mtn clubs and see if there are any members helping out with shuttles.

Thx think I have it...need to get dates squared away.


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Gambit McCrae
11-23-2020, 17:10
Itís been far too long! I havenít hiked since September thrus of HST and WRHR. Planning to get my 14 yr old out to knock out the SMNP section over Xmas break. Any cheaper shuttle options? Called standing bear...I realize itís a long shuttle but $170 is tough to swallow. Nobo or sobo? Assume sobo as have left my truck at dam with no issues and shower access at end is a plus before that long drive home. Thinking 4-5 days depending on weather.


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Its a good deal salty....How much cheaper can a weeklong Christmas vacation get?...

I have no opinion on direction personally BUT if you pull the trip in 4 days your 4th day will still be a very much FULL day, it makes sense to park truck at dam, hike nobo to standing bear farm, stay the night there and have it set up with them to shuttle you back to the dam. Disclaimer- If they cant shuttle you, use same plan but find yourself a shuttle driver.

saltysack
11-23-2020, 18:38
Good call. Will likely be 5 days with my son in tow.....


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JNI64
11-23-2020, 18:54
And a $57 savings !!

Slo-go'en
11-23-2020, 20:10
I don't know, but 5 days with the shortest amount of daylight possible is cutting it close. There's bound to be at least one bad weather day, probably two as it can overlap, in any 5 day slice of time and you have no choice but to deal with it.

HooKooDooKu
11-23-2020, 21:53
It’s been far too long! I haven’t hiked since September thrus of HST and WRHR. Planning to get my 14 yr old out to knock out the SMNP section over Xmas break.
I feel your pain.
My 14yo is working on the GSMNP 900 Miler Club. We planned a hike during Columbus Day school holiday, but the hurricane cancelled those plans. Rescheduled for this weekend after Thanksgiving and once again weather (with some unexpected medical issues) is going to stop us AGAIN. :(

saltysack
11-23-2020, 22:09
I feel your pain.
My 14yo is working on the GSMNP 900 Miler Club. We planned a hike during Columbus Day school holiday, but the hurricane cancelled those plans. Rescheduled for this weekend after Thanksgiving and once again weather (with some unexpected medical issues) is going to stop us AGAIN. :(

Totally understand....whatís your thoughts on 5 days? Heís usually good for 15 mpd on NC AT but his last bike was few years back we did Art Loeb and it kicked his but in 2.5 days...how tough is terrain? I havenít ever really researched the terrain in SMNP


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TNhiker
11-23-2020, 22:34
I haven’t ever really researched the terrain in SMNP




i would say, you might wanna do this.......

HooKooDooKu can give more specifics on the elevation gain lost/gain between each chunk of the AT in the Park, but
I'll give it in layman's terms....

From Davenport------climb up to mt cammerrer, ride the ridge up with some ups and downs over to
clingman's dome, then ride the ridge down with some downs and ups......to shuckstack......then it's all downhill...

saltysack
11-24-2020, 00:50
i would say, you might wanna do this.......

HooKooDooKu can give more specifics on the elevation gain lost/gain between each chunk of the AT in the Park, but
I'll give it in layman's terms....

From Davenport------climb up to mt cammerrer, ride the ridge up with some ups and downs over to
clingman's dome, then ride the ridge down with some downs and ups......to shuckstack......then it's all downhill...

I should have said itís been awhile since Iíve mapped it out.still need to get the guthook for this section


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HooKooDooKu
11-24-2020, 00:51
Totally understand....what’s your thoughts on 5 days? He’s usually good for 15 mpd on NC AT but his last bike was few years back we did Art Loeb and it kicked his but in 2.5 days...how tough is terrain? I haven’t ever really researched the terrain in SMNP


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I try to average about 12 mpd. Son's gotten old enough and I've gained enough weight that we walk about the same speed.
We've done several 4 night trips in GSMNP. Once did a 5 night, but the 1st day was a day-hike staying at a front country campsite that night.


...From Davenport------climb up to mt cammerrer, ride the ridge up with some ups and downs over to
clingman's dome, then ride the ridge down with some downs and ups......to shuckstack......then it's all downhill...
Nothing on the AT is ever "all down hill".
I've twice made a two night loop out of hiking over-to and up Eagle Creek and returned on the AT.
By the time I get to Doe knob (in theory the start of the "it's all down hill") and I can fell every little 20', 30' or 50' climb you wind up having to do as you walk "down" the ridge line. And that's not including the climb from Twenty Mile to Shuckstack.

JC13
11-24-2020, 11:31
The distance on the Appalachian Trail betweenTN32-Davenport Gap, TN 239.1 andFontana Dam, NC 166.7is 72.4 miles.Estimated ascent in section is 20,080' https://www.atdist.com/_images/atnew/info.png (https://www.atdist.com/mapelev)Estimated descent in section is 20,320'

TNhiker
11-24-2020, 22:14
Nothing on the AT is ever "all down hill".




ahhhhh.....

it's essentially all down hill from shuckstack...

two little blips of a rise, but majority is downhill...

and after a week of coming over from davenport----this stretch coming down will be easy...

HooKooDooKu
11-25-2020, 00:17
it's essentially all down hill from shuckstack...
two little blips of a rise, but majority is downhill...
Of course you're obviously right... but after climbing Eagle Creek plus an additional accumulated 1,000' climb along the AT between Bote Mtn and Doe Knob... doesn't keep me from cursing every 10' rise I climb coming down from shuckstack :)

madgoat
11-25-2020, 11:57
There seem to be distinct sections on that trek from Clingman's to Fontana. For long stretches, the trail goes straight up and over every knob. Then a trail surveyor who wasn't a mountain goat took over, and mixed in a switchback here and there, and routed the trail around most knobs instead of up and over. It's like they took turns doing 5 or 6 mile sections. My group and I were just having fun joking about it as we did most of that stretch back in late October.

Starchild
11-25-2020, 12:00
For the shuttle prices, besides the miles, also a long part of that road is very curvy and takes much longer then it looks. That time has to be considered in the price.

Starchild
11-25-2020, 12:03
There seem to be distinct sections on that trek from Clingman's to Fontana. For long stretches, the trail goes straight up and over every knob. Then a trail surveyor who wasn't a mountain goat took over, and mixed in a switchback here and there, and routed the trail around most knobs instead of up and over. It's like they took turns doing 5 or 6 mile sections. My group and I were just having fun joking about it as we did most of that stretch back in late October.

It appears that several sections have being taken off the ridgeline 'straight up and over' routes which aggravate erosion and replaced by more sustainable trails. I suspect that is what you are referring to.

Gambit McCrae
11-25-2020, 12:28
Salty I have started a post here about 14hundred times and work keeps getting me before I finish.

My AT completion of the smokies was more botched then one could imagine.

Trip 1 - (First trip ever on the AT) Russel Field to Doe Knob - 1 night

Trip 2 - Fontana to Russel Field (got kicked out bc I didn't even know you had to have a permit) - 1 night

Trip 3 - Clingmans Dome to Davenport Gap - 2 nights

Trip 4 - Clingmans Dome to Russel field - 1 night

Trip 5 - Redo from newfound gap to Davenport Gap - 1 night

Trip 6 - Redo from Clingmans Dome to Fontana - 1 night

Now that I have done all of that crap, i would suggest the following:

Fontana to Standing Bear Hostel 74 miles
Average of 15 miles a day over 5 days 20k up and 20k down

1 - Fontana to Spence Field - 17 miles - Tough first day but the hard work will pay off for really the remainder of the trip. This gets you up into the smokies and out of most of the hardwoods into a more spruce/ fur environment.

2 - Spence to Double Springs 13.5 miles

3 - Double Springs to Newfound Gap - 10.5 miles- - Think about heading into Gburge for a night. The boy will enjoy some public interaction and good meal after 3 days in the woods with dad LOL

4- Newfound Gap to Tricorner - 15.7 miles

5 - Tricorner to i40 - 17.6 Miles but a good bit of down hill and easy terrain.

When plotting it out like this, a 6th day would probably go a long way

HooKooDooKu
11-26-2020, 00:23
It appears that several sections have being taken off the ridgeline 'straight up and over' routes which aggravate erosion and replaced by more sustainable trails. I suspect that is what you are referring to.
I was going to say something along the same lines. There are many spots where you can see that the trail has been rerouted over the years.

johnacraft
11-29-2020, 18:32
Totally understand....whatís your thoughts on 5 days? Heís usually good for 15 mpd on NC AT but his last bike was few years back we did Art Loeb and it kicked his but in 2.5 days...how tough is terrain? I havenít ever really researched the terrain in SMNP

We hiked Fontana to Clingmans in June, and I totaled up the elevation gains and losses using the Caltopo profile feature. According to it, there is 10,000 feet of gross elevation gain, and about 5,200 gross feet of downhill in that section.

I have not totaled Clingmans to Davenport, but it's probably only a little better.

5 days would probably mean overnighting at Russell Field, Double Spring Gap, Icewater Springs, and Tricorner Knob. The shelter locations and distances are probably more conducive to a northbound hike (a 15 mile first day up from Davenport with five days of food would be brutal, whereas a 15 mile day down from Cammerer with an empty food bag is only annoying).

A 6 day hike overnighting at Mollies Ridge, Derrick Knob, Mt. Collins, Peck's Corner, and Cosby Knob might be more to your son's liking.

saltysack
11-29-2020, 22:36
Thx gentlemen for all the great info...looking deeper into it it might be better to break up into two sections as his last hike was a death march. Personally I like to push 15-20 mpd but my son not do much...thinking newfound gap to Fontana might be a better option


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saltysack
11-29-2020, 23:52
Anyone know if toilets and showers open in December? We may stay at Fontana Hilton as would get in late before shutting next morning.


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HooKooDooKu
11-30-2020, 00:34
Thx gentlemen for all the great info...looking deeper into it it might be better to break up into two sections as his last hike was a death march. Personally I like to push 15-20 mpd but my son not do much...thinking newfound gap to Fontana might be a better option


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Given the ups and downs mentioned, it really doesn't make much difference other than that original climb out of Fontana.
But unless you're hung up on staying on only the AT, I'd recommend some sort of loop... perhaps start from Tremont and hike Lumber Ridge, Meigs Mtn, Jakes Creek, Miry Ridge, AT over thunderhead, Bote Mtn, and West Prong trails

HooKooDooKu
11-30-2020, 00:41
Anyone know if toilets and showers open in December? We may stay at Fontana Hilton as would get in late before shutting next morning.


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Can't answer the question about the showers... perhaps try using the contact information for the visitors center I could find here:
visitnc.com/listing/UHdY/fontana-dam-visitors-center (http://visitnc.com/listing/UHdY/fontana-dam-visitors-center)

However... you're talking about 15mpd... and December... now you're an experienced hiker so this is going to sound a bit insulting.... but you do realize how short the days are?
I only ask because I JUST returned home from a two night hike with my son in the Cataloochee area. Both nights we were eating dinner in the dark.

rmitchell
11-30-2020, 08:07
The last couple of winter have been mild with little snow. Its been relatively warm so far this fall.

However the forecast for tonight is calling for 8+ inches of snow in the higher elevations. By Christmas break that could melt away or not.

The park service has become more cautious and in very quick to close Newfound Gap Road so that may not be a bail out option if the weather turns.

I like HooKooDooKu's suggestion about a loop hike. It would eliminate the cost of a shuttle. But be aware of any creek crossings. Not fun in freezing weather.

BTW In either direction there are plenty of 200 to 300 dips and climbs. It is not all downhill after Clingman's Dome whether northbound or southbound on the AT,

JC13
11-30-2020, 13:45
Anyone know if toilets and showers open in December? We may stay at Fontana Hilton as would get in late before shutting next morning.


Sent from my iPhone using TapatalkThey were open November 15th, both at the Hilton and the nicer ones at the Visitor Center.

madgoat
12-02-2020, 13:54
I found a trail journal from a couple years ago where a southbounder was singing the praises of the Fontana Hilton showers since they were open in late December. No guarantee they will still be open in this covid year. But the fontana hilton bathroom/showerhouse by the shelter was open when we were there in late October. The big communal shower at the far end of the visitor's center was closed. But the one person bathroom next to it was open, and it had a single shower in it. As others have said, the visitors center shower was much cleaner than the hilton shower. Much cleaner.

TNhiker
12-02-2020, 19:53
They were open November 15th, both at the Hilton and the nicer ones at the Visitor Center.



i have not been in the shower at the hilton but if that's the nicer one, hate to see the hilton's one....

it's nice for what it does but the shower heads aren't exactly great...

TNhiker
12-02-2020, 19:54
The big communal shower at the far end of the visitor's center was closed. But the one person bathroom next to it was open, and it had a single shower in it



i think (and could be wrong about this) that they closed the shower down for covid...

and i think (again, could be wrong) that the single shower is the ladies shower.....

JC13
12-03-2020, 17:38
i think (and could be wrong about this) that they closed the shower down for covid...

and i think (again, could be wrong) that the single shower is the ladies shower.....Ladies shower was closed on Nov 15. The single shower next to it was open. It was pretty clean, especially since I had used the Hilton men's shower as well, the hilton shower was pretty rough. Had a hair ball that looked like the hairy creature that used to sometimes appear with Marvin the Martian in Looney Tunes. Floor was pretty dirty in the entire bathroom.