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  1. #1
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    Default Need suggestion on GSMNP hike

    I'm coming off of a groin injury and want to do a one night trip around 16 miles (8 each day) to give my groin a good test.

    Coming out of Asheville, so the east side works best. Love waterfalls! Any suggestions on a good loop or out-back not on the AT will be appreciated.
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  2. #2
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    Here's a link that may help you decide. And if you select the "trail feature" tab at the top, you can scroll down to the second category "waterfall hikes". The table gives you the area, distance, and difficulty rating.
    I haven't hiked a lot on the NC side, so I don't feel like I can provide much in the way of valuable suggestions. I will say however, that the Cataloochee area is a little difficult to get to, so it is much less crowded than the more popular stuff at Cades Cove and Sugarlands. You might consider the Boogerman Loop. It doesn't have a waterfall, but it has several creek crossings. I've seen the two waterfalls on the Big Creek trail, but not the two at Deep Creek. Hen Wallow Falls out of Cosby is nice, and could be part of a loop. Or you could go over towards Bryson City and take the Road to Nowhere. There's an abandoned tunnel that's cool (creepy) to walk through.

    http://www.hikinginthesmokys.com/smokies-waterfalls.htm

  3. #3
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    Make a loop out of Gregory Bald. Park at the Gregory Ridge trailhead, but walk Parsons Branch road to Gregory Bald trail to CS13, then back down Gregory Ridge the next day.

    It's less than 8 mpd, but it makes up for it with about a 3,000' elevation change.

  4. #4
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    Starting at Big Creek campground, you can take the Big Creek trail to camp site 37. That's only 5 miles, but it is reasonably flat, and two people can walk side by side there. It follows the creek the whole way with several very nice overlooks and a waterfall, and the campsites are quite nice. You can set camp and head up to Gunter Fork trail for a few extra miles. There is one or two more waterfalls there and the scenery is very nice. There is a stream crossing on Gunter, where the trail makes an abrupt left turn right at the creek, and it is also right after a tall waterfall. I would not recommend going any further than this. The trail is a mess beyond this point... Overgrown, not cared for, and not very pleasant to be on. You'll probably be right at the 7 mile mark here anyway and a good point to turn around to get your 8 (maybe 9) miles in.

    Plus Big Creek is right off I-40.

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by Analog_Kidd View Post
    ...you can take the Big Creek trail to camp site 37 ... and the campsites are quite nice...
    Except I've been told it has the worst infestation of mice. I've only stayed at 37 once, and I got a mouse hole in my food bag. Make sure you bring a mouse mobile because mice climb bear cables.

  6. #6
    Rain Man's Avatar
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    Mt. Sterling is on that side and will test your groin. Good choice of trails to make a loop. I've done it more than once and am happy to recommend it. Firetower on top.
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  7. #7
    Registered User Wheezy's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by HooKooDooKu View Post
    Except I've been told it has the worst infestation of mice. I've only stayed at 37 once, and I got a mouse hole in my food bag. Make sure you bring a mouse mobile because mice climb bear cables.
    This is true. I was there in January. We had two out of three food bags chewed while at 37. It is a nice easy hike to get there though.


    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by Rain Man View Post
    Mt. Sterling is on that side and will test your groin. Good choice of trails to make a loop. I've done it more than once and am happy to recommend it. Firetower on top.
    Which camp site would you recommend?
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    Quote Originally Posted by DownYonder View Post
    Which camp site would you recommend?


    If you do the mount sterling loop---there's a campsite at the base of the tower...

    theres some horse sites and some more friendly tent sites tucked away...

    bring something to haul water---spring is downhill a bit...

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by TNhiker View Post
    If you do the mount sterling loop---there's a campsite at the base of the tower...

    theres some horse sites and some more friendly tent sites tucked away...

    bring something to haul water---spring is downhill a bit...
    Got the last 2 permits for #38. Would that include at the tower or is it a separate site?
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  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by DownYonder View Post
    Got the last 2 permits for #38. Would that include at the tower or is it a separate site?


    https://www.nps.gov/grsm/planyourvis...omplete4-2.pdf


    its at the base of the tower....

    youll see it...

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by DownYonder View Post
    Got the last 2 permits for #38. Would that include at the tower or is it a separate site?
    #38 is at the base of the tower, ... but I will say that the spots for tents & hammocks are quite spread out, so poke around here and there for a spot that suits you.

    It's chilly up there at a mile high, plus there are bears.

    If you like smartphone apps, I like PeakFinder and have used it from the tower to know which mountain peaks I'm looking at in the distance. Great place for sunrise & sunset photos.

    P.S. I'll be there in two weekends.
    Last edited by Rain Man; 08-08-2019 at 21:46.
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  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by Rain Man View Post
    #38 is at the base of the tower, ... but I will say that the spots for tents & hammocks are quite spread out, so poke around here and there for a spot that suits you.

    It's chilly up there at a mile high, plus there are bears.

    If you like smartphone apps, I like PeakFinder and have used it from the tower to know which mountain peaks I'm looking at in the distance. Great place for sunrise & sunset photos.

    P.S. I'll be there in two weekends.
    Great info guys...thanks.

    Will you be there the 17th or 24th ?
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  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by DownYonder View Post
    Will you be there the 17th or 24th ?
    Neither, the 18th. We'll be at #37 the 17th.
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  15. #15

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    Quote Originally Posted by DownYonder View Post
    Got the last 2 permits for #38. Would that include at the tower or is it a separate site?
    If you are coming up from Mt. Sterling Gap, you'll see horse stalls on your right as you approach the summit. There will be a fire ring on your left just before reaching the tower.

    If you are coming up the Baxter Creek, the fire ring is on the right just after passing the tower.

    IMG_20190808_170812.jpg

    Either way, there is a second fire ring ~50 yards compass west. Stand at the fire ring by the trail, with the tower behind you, look downhill, and you should see an opening that leads to the second fire ring and a tent site nearby (behind the bushes on the left in the photo). It is easier to see if you are standing at the bear cables, and the three form a triangle.

    IMG_20190808_191204.jpg


    I believe there are also tent sites on the opposite side of the trail (around the tower and solar panels).


    The water source is down the Baxter Creek trail - you can't miss it.

    IMG_20190808_175211.jpg

    IMG_20190808_175701.jpg

  16. #16
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    "The water source is down the Baxter Creek trail - you can't miss it."

    Emphasis on down the trail.


    If you are coming up Baxter Creek trail, you will want to fill up before camp.

  17. #17
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    Thanks guys!! I love WB!!!
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  18. #18
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    Looking at the elevation gains/losses from Big Creek to Mt Sterling. Steep down hills hurt me more than up. How feasible would it be to take Baxter Creek Trail up and Shallow Fork / Big Creek Trail back down?
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  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by DownYonder View Post
    Looking at the elevation gains/losses from Big Creek to Mt Sterling. Steep down hills hurt me more than up. How feasible would it be to take Baxter Creek Trail up and Shallow Fork / Big Creek Trail back down?
    Nothing wrong with that. It's still A LOT of down hill... but just not quite as steep... Still steep, just a little less so.

    Obviously it will be a bit longer, and if you're talking about this loop as a day hike, realize that's over 16 miles. If you are talking about over night, the 2nd day is over 10 miles, or you can use 36/37 ( which ever isn't the horse camp) to break it into three days.

  20. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by DownYonder View Post
    Looking at the elevation gains/losses from Big Creek to Mt Sterling. Steep down hills hurt me more than up. How feasible would it be to take Baxter Creek Trail up and Shallow Fork / Big Creek Trail back down?
    That's what I did last trip. Very feasible.
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