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  1. #1
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    Default 3 Night November 9th

    Hey peeps, looking for any helpful info on the following itinerary.

    Friday:
    Start at Big Creek
    Hike South on Benton MacKaye to Site 38

    Saturday:
    Continue South to Balsam and head North, split onto Gunter Fork to Site 37

    Sunday:
    Take Big Creek to Low Gap to the AT, go east to to the Mt. Crammerer split, check out the peak and then turn around and head to Davenport Shelter

    Monday:
    Head back south to the Big Creek ranger station

    Looking for information on elevation climbs and any other information that might be pertinent to this area. Thanks!

  2. #2
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    the climb up Baxter Creek (BMT) to Mt. Sterling is a bear! I'm pretty sure it's over 4000 feet in 6ish miles --pretty steep for the south. It's a great trail though --very pretty-- and the campsite is pretty neat, IMO.

  3. #3
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    Yes, Baxter Creek Trail is slightly more than a 4,000' climb and just over 6 miles long.

    Near the top of the climb, you should see a trail to the right. I believe there's a sign indicating the trail leads to water. This is the water source for CS38, and you're still almost a quarter of a mile away from camp. So you want to go ahead and water up now rather than having to hike back down later. The water is located a little over 1/10th of a mile down this trail (which means it's about a 2/3rd of a mile, round trip, from the camp to the water source).

    So just to be clear, you're taking the LONG way to CS37 by heading down Gunther Fork rather than the short way down Swallow Fork... The water crossings and water falls makes Gunther Fork a more interesting trail.


    You'll obviously want to check the weather forecast before you head out. Other than shelters, CS38 is the highest elevation campsite in GSMNP, so the temperatures could be quite code up there.

  4. #4
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    If you're looking for mountain views... perhaps rather than hiking Gunther Fork and staying at CS37, you might want to consider spending the 2nd night at Cosby Shelter and returning to Big Creek via the AT and Chestnut Branch. That way, you get a chance to see the views from Cammerer Lookout. You'll have the option of parking either at the start of Baxter Creek, or the Deep Creek Ranger station right by the Chestnut Branch trailhead. It's about a 3/4 mile gravel road walk between the ranger station and Baxter Creek trail.

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by HooKooDooKu View Post
    Yes, Baxter Creek Trail is slightly more than a 4,000' climb and just over 6 miles long.

    Near the top of the climb, you should see a trail to the right. I believe there's a sign indicating the trail leads to water. This is the water source for CS38, and you're still almost a quarter of a mile away from camp. So you want to go ahead and water up now rather than having to hike back down later. The water is located a little over 1/10th of a mile down this trail (which means it's about a 2/3rd of a mile, round trip, from the camp to the water source).

    So just to be clear, you're taking the LONG way to CS37 by heading down Gunther Fork rather than the short way down Swallow Fork... The water crossings and water falls makes Gunther Fork a more interesting trail.


    You'll obviously want to check the weather forecast before you head out. Other than shelters, CS38 is the highest elevation campsite in GSMNP, so the temperatures could be quite code up there.
    I just spoke with one of the backcountry guys at the park and he said the same thing about taking the long route, I think we are going to cut it short and take Swallow Fork.

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by HooKooDooKu View Post
    If you're looking for mountain views... perhaps rather than hiking Gunther Fork and staying at CS37, you might want to consider spending the 2nd night at Cosby Shelter and returning to Big Creek via the AT and Chestnut Branch. That way, you get a chance to see the views from Cammerer Lookout. You'll have the option of parking either at the start of Baxter Creek, or the Deep Creek Ranger station right by the Chestnut Branch trailhead. It's about a 3/4 mile gravel road walk between the ranger station and Baxter Creek trail.
    We thought about that but we really arent keen on staying in the shelters. Im having to force the guys to stay at Davenport....

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by ol' Sassy View Post
    I just spoke with one of the backcountry guys at the park and he said the same thing about taking the long route, I think we are going to cut it short and take Swallow Fork.
    Near the top of Swallow Fork (perhaps about 3/4 of a mile from the top), the trail makes a U-Turn.
    The last time I hiked down Swallow Fork, we missed this U-Turn because the trail was a bit over grown making the trial continuing past the U-Turn hard to notice... and the trail looked like it continued strait after crossing what looked like a downed tree. We didn't realize we were off the trail until after we started down the side of the mountain on what looked like it MIGHT be the trail. Fortunately we had a GPS that told us we were off the trail and had to start climbing back up-hill off trail. Not an easy feat. So if the trail starts to look like it's disappearing, go back a short ways and make sure you haven't missed the turn.

    (It's been over a year, so the trail conditions might have improved)

  8. #8
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    ol' Sassy,

    I love that area of the park.

    Like HooKooDooKu said, tank up on water at the spring right before you get to 38. Great views from the steps going up to the firetower at 38, so hopefully you get clear sunrises and sunsets.

    37 is one of the most used campsites in the park. Lots of mice. Keep your tent zipped and your food stored properly, or you may have a close encounter of the rodent kind. The creek through 37 is very nice though.

    Mt. Cammerer is a great place to stop for lunch. You can get into the firetower and hand out. There are glass windows all the way around and a balcony outside to stand on and enjoy the views.

    I was bored, so I put together some elevation profiles and a map for you. Hopefully you find them useful.

    Route.jpgElevation.png

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by madgoat View Post
    ol' Sassy,

    I love that area of the park.

    Like HooKooDooKu said, tank up on water at the spring right before you get to 38. Great views from the steps going up to the firetower at 38, so hopefully you get clear sunrises and sunsets.

    37 is one of the most used campsites in the park. Lots of mice. Keep your tent zipped and your food stored properly, or you may have a close encounter of the rodent kind. The creek through 37 is very nice though.

    Mt. Cammerer is a great place to stop for lunch. You can get into the firetower and hand out. There are glass windows all the way around and a balcony outside to stand on and enjoy the views.

    I was bored, so I put together some elevation profiles and a map for you. Hopefully you find them useful.

    Route.jpgElevation.png
    Holy crap! Thanks for the map and charts! Greatly appreciated guys!!!!


    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk

  10. #10
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    You are welcome ol sassy. I still have an old version of Topo for the GSMNP and it is super easy to trace a route and get the elevation profiles.

    One of these days, my computer will stop running that old software package.... I will be sad.

  11. #11
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    Iím trying to hike the whole smokies section in roughly the same time frame. The forecast isnít looking good right now so I may have to adjust.

  12. #12
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    I'd actually hike to 37 then do cammerer as a day hike and return to 37 then up to 38 via swallow fork and last day down to parking lot. Much less stressful on the legs. 38 will be below 20 overnight probably

    Sent from my XT1650 using Tapatalk

  13. #13
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    LOL Hiking south does not mean hiking down/descending. It's loads of elev gain coming from your start ascending Baxter Crk Tr(the BMT)to CS 38 but it's overall well graded with loads of switchbacks. CS 38 atop Mt Sterling can get socked in with no view even from atop the firetower. It's foggy(smokey) and misty alot. If you get some leaves still hanging and a clear day it will be memorable. There still were quite a few leaves atop Clingmans Dome on Oct 31 and Nov 1. Yup. meese at the well used CS 38 spots.

    If you go from CS38 to CS37 via the shorter Swallow Fork Tr route it we'll be a short distance day of about 5.5 m. It's not a massively strenuous day 2 and not what it can be coming up Baxter Cr Tr on Day 1 with a heavier pack. That Day 2 itinerary can make for long in camp times. If you go your original itinerary its' more up and down elev change.

    On day 3 if your party is going to Davenport Gap Shelter on the AT from CS 38 you may consider cutting off roughly give or take 1.5 miles by finding an obvious use trail back to the AT that generally tracks ESE starting near the Mt Cammerer Tower that reacquires the AT slightly north of the AT Mt Cammerer spur junction. AT NOBOs who know it's available tend to do it. This makes for more consistent mile days. I haven't taken this use trail in several yrs though so can't confirm current states.

    Tell the DC Rangers you want to leave your car for a few nights. They'll be aware of it for you.

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