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  1. #1
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    Default BMT Thru Hike Follow-up Questions

    I'm starting to plan a BMT thru hike and jreader213's thread had a ton of info. I did have a few follow-up questions and didn't want to hijack.

    I'm still trying to decide between an early spring vs. early fall hike, any suggestions? I'd prefer the fall but it sounds like the trail can be a little overgrown in places and that might be less of a problem in early spring. Temperature isn't really a consideration, I'm good with heat or cold.

    Is there any benefit to northbound vs. southbound? It sounds like north is most popular but I like the idea of a more ceremonial finish at Springer. It also seems like it would be easier to line up GSMNP permits if that's where I start.

    Finally, how are the trail conditions? Most of the recent blogs I've read mention rough stretches with numerous blowdowns. This isn't a deal breaker but I'd at least like to be mentally prepared.

    Thanks!

  2. #2
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    Quote Originally Posted by BenWalking View Post
    I'm starting to plan a BMT thru hike and jreader213's thread had a ton of info. I did have a few follow-up questions and didn't want to hijack.

    I'm still trying to decide between an early spring vs. early fall hike, any suggestions? I'd prefer the fall but it sounds like the trail can be a little overgrown in places and that might be less of a problem in early spring. Temperature isn't really a consideration, I'm good with heat or cold.

    Is there any benefit to northbound vs. southbound? It sounds like north is most popular but I like the idea of a more ceremonial finish at Springer. It also seems like it would be easier to line up GSMNP permits if that's where I start.

    Finally, how are the trail conditions? Most of the recent blogs I've read mention rough stretches with numerous blowdowns. This isn't a deal breaker but I'd at least like to be mentally prepared.

    Thanks!
    I can only help with some of those questions as I just finished my section hike of the entire trail in December.

    NOBO VS SOBO.

    It is nicer to finish at Springer than Baxter Creek Trailhead. I like the idea. That being said, I did NOBO and I wouldn't change it. My goal was always Mt. Sterling, which is by far the best view of the trip. I kind of made it work out in my head that Mt. Sterling was the terminus of the BMT and the walk down to the trailhead was simply that. A walk to my car.

    You are absolutely correct that getting permits will be much easier since you have a known starting day, but if you are a thru-hiker, you will only need a thru hiking permit so reservations wouldn't be an issue I'd imagine unless there is something I am missing. The BMT is far less traveled than the AT. Except for 1-2 very popular campsites, we always had a campsite to ourselves, including the only shelter on the BMT.

    Spring vs Fall

    If overgrown areas are a problem (there will be a few bad sections), the Spring would be your best bet.

    Blowdowns - They are just kind of part of hiking. They try their best to remove them as quickly as they can, but they will always exist.
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  3. #3
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    My goal was always Mt. Sterling, which is by far the best view of the trip.


    welllllllllllll.......................with the reroute of the BMT---one could say the Hangover has the best view....



    You are absolutely correct that getting permits will be much easier since you have a known starting day, but if you are a thru-hiker, you will only need a thru hiking permit so reservations wouldn't be an issue


    i think the thru hiker permits only apply to AT thru hikers....

    also----since the BMT ends in the Park, the rules of the general thru hiker permit wouldnt apply (as in, starting and ending 50 miles out).......

  4. #4
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    Glad my thread was useful to someone else too! I just thought I'd share some of my thoughts here as well.

    I choose NOBO versus SOBO firstly because I live in Georgia and it's easier to get to Amicalola Falls than it is to get to Baxter Creek (I am doing the approach trail sadly).

    As for why I'm choosing to start on April 9th, it's mostly just due to time constraints, but also because I want to avoid as much of the Green Tunnel as possible. While I enjoy the AT, trees, and wilderness of course, I think starting when the views out onto the other mountains are the most visible is the best plan. If I could have started earlier this month, I most definitely would have.

    No idea about permits yet, I'm still trying to shore up all my food and shipping out my mail drops haha!

  5. #5
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    Last spring I found the trail in Georgia to be in mostly good condition but along the tn-nc line south of tellico fish hatchery it was in horrible condition with countless blowdowns. For two days it was my least favorite trail but I enjoyed the rest of it. Maybe the bmta could tell you if it's like that now. There were also a surprising number of big blowdowns in the Kilmer slickrock wilderness but the route there is on a horse trail and the fallen trees kept the horse riders out.
    i had some heavy water carries in spring and guess there'd be more in autumn.

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    Why do the approach? Springer parking lot isn't terribly hard to get to. I'd rather backtrack .9mi than hike 7 unnecessarily.

  7. #7
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    Easy enough to get GSMNP permits for the BMT whether SOBO or NOBO. For a NOBO call your permits in from Fontana and have them printed out at the Fontana Inn/Lodge. The BMT has no where near the level of usage of the AT so don't compare the permit competition of both.

    Entirely hiked the BMT over several section hikes and did the 500+ mile BMT/AT Figure Eight as a thru a couple of yrs ago. Have since hiked the BMT through GSMNP several times both NOBO and SOBO without ever encountering full campsites, many people, or permit problems.

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by jpolk84 View Post
    Why do the approach? Springer parking lot isn't terribly hard to get to. I'd rather backtrack .9mi than hike 7 unnecessarily.

    Umm, maybe some people don't recognize it as unnecessary to walk 7 miles of the old AT to get to a really nice worthy to experience waterfall and State Park with safe parking? Maybe, I'm just a waterfall lover though? How about a splurge at the end of a BMT thru treating yourself to a good meal at Len Foote Inn?

    Why, are we hiking...to say we added another alphabet trail to our resume?

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by TNhiker View Post
    welllllllllllll.......................with the reroute of the BMT---one could say the Hangover has the best view....

    i think the thru hiker permits only apply to AT thru hikers....

    also----since the BMT ends in the Park, the rules of the general thru hiker permit wouldnt apply (as in, starting and ending 50 miles out).......
    TNhiker is right about the permits. Most campsites on the BMT are substantially less used then those on AT or other very popular. For most campsites, there shouldn't be an issue of not being able to get your campsite when you want it. I just took a look at various campsites along the BMT and they are largely empty or have a lot of spots left. I wouldn't let this be a determining factor in your decision.

    @ TNhikers, when I did the section with the Hangover, it was raining. I didn't get to see the view, but I have seen pictures. If it is better than Mt. Sterling, then it is going to be amazing to see it when I go back.
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  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by AO2134 View Post
    TNhiker is right about the permits. Most campsites on the BMT are substantially less used then those on AT or other very popular. For most campsites, there shouldn't be an issue of not being able to get your campsite when you want it.
    The only exception is Campsite 38 on top of Mt. Sterling. Probably not a problem during the week, but it often fills up on weekends, I think. Last year it was closed for about six weeks as I recall for bear activity, but this was in very late spring or early summer.

  11. #11

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    The big advantage to going Northbound (especially in the Spring) is that you can catch a shuttle, etc. with AT starters, which simplifies the process of getting to the trailhead. The big advantage of going Southbound is the permit issue.
    Take you choice and enjoy it whichever way works best!

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    @ TNhikers, when I did the section with the Hangover, it was raining. I didn't get to see the view, but I have seen pictures. If it is better than Mt. Sterling, then it is going to be amazing to see it when I go back.



    sorry that it rained when you were in that area...

    but, theres plenty of excellent hiking that encompasses that area and can incorporate the hangover into.....

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by jreader213 View Post
    Glad my thread was useful to someone else too! I just thought I'd share some of my thoughts here as well.

    I choose NOBO versus SOBO firstly because I live in Georgia and it's easier to get to Amicalola Falls than it is to get to Baxter Creek (I am doing the approach trail sadly).

    As for why I'm choosing to start on April 9th, it's mostly just due to time constraints, but also because I want to avoid as much of the Green Tunnel as possible. While I enjoy the AT, trees, and wilderness of course, I think starting when the views out onto the other mountains are the most visible is the best plan. If I could have started earlier this month, I most definitely would have...
    The BMT is likened to a lower elevation more wild less used AT alternate route for good reason. It isn't near or on the ridges or of high an elev as the AT. If you're going early April expecting many views looking out over many ranges you may be disappointed only getting a limited number of those types of overlooks. Since you'll overall be lower elev spring will generally be further along on the BMT in April than the AT.


    What I do like about your hiking time frame in early spring or fall is the lower humidity and temps compared to summer time. Lower elevations in the southeast during the hottest most humid parts of the yr are exacerbated with all the foliage and water along the BMT.

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dogwood View Post
    The BMT is likened to a lower elevation more wild less used AT alternate route for good reason. It isn't near or on the ridges or of high an elev as the AT. If you're going early April expecting many views looking out over many ranges you may be disappointed only getting a limited number of those types of overlooks. Since you'll overall be lower elev spring will generally be further along on the BMT in April than the AT.


    What I do like about your hiking time frame in early spring or fall is the lower humidity and temps compared to summer time. Lower elevations in the southeast during the hottest most humid parts of the yr are exacerbated with all the foliage and water along the BMT.
    Exactly why I said I would have started a month earlier if I could have haha! Early March would've been a great time for some of those views and what not, but since April 9 - 28 was my only open opportunity, I took it.

  15. #15
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    Let me be clearer. Regardless of time of yr/month the BMT doesn't have a wealth of high level elev views looking out across several mountain tops. I never got too much of that green tunnel feel on the BMT although there definitely are segments where you get some of that.



    Most of my BMT hikes have been done in very warm humid temps with, at times, consistent regular rain rain rain making it a sweat and wet fest. On that AT/BMT figure eight I went 19 days out of 23 experiencing heavy rain with a few zero in town stays thrown in to dry out only to get immediately soaked upon getting back on trail. I was practically always wet from rain or humidity. Your option but for me I'd choose mid Oct during the fall leaf peeping season into winter for a BMT thru if I was to ever thru it again. Really though the BMT is another one of those trails that junctions with so many other hikes it's so easy to put together the best of BMT sections and other trails thru-hike IF you don't get caught up in alphabet procuring trails. Trail acronyms are just a label.


    If you like to fish in streams, etc you might consider tagging along a fishing pole. That's what I did and enjoyed it never seeing another fisherman. I only saw two other BMT Thru-hikers and several BMT section hikers on all my BMT travels.

  16. #16

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    I'll be hiking the GA section in mid May. Is anyone else planning on hiking around that time?

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