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  1. #21
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    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.

  2. #22
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    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.

  3. #23
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    Quote Originally Posted by madgoat View Post
    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.

  4. #24

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    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
    Trail Miles: 3,978.2 - AT Trips: 70
    AT Map 1: 2004.8
    AT Map 2: 265.0
    Sheltowee Trace Map: 84.0
    BMT Map: 57.7
    Pinhoti Trail Map: 0.0

  5. #25
    GSMNP 900 Miler
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    Quote Originally Posted by Starchild View Post
    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.

  6. #26
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    Quote Originally Posted by saltysack View Post
    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.

  7. #27
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    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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  8. #28
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    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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  9. #29
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    Quote Originally Posted by saltysack View Post
    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


    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
    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

  10. #30
    GSMNP 900 Miler
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    Quote Originally Posted by saltysack View Post
    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 Tapatalk
    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

    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.

  11. #31
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    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,

  12. #32
    Leonidas
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    Quote Originally Posted by saltysack View Post
    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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    They were open November 15th, both at the Hilton and the nicer ones at the Visitor Center.
    AT: 471 mi

    Pinhoti Trail '18-19'

    @leonidasonthetrail https://www.youtube.com/user/tehJC13

  13. #33
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    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.

  14. #34
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    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...

  15. #35
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    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.....

  16. #36
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    Quote Originally Posted by TNhiker View Post
    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.
    AT: 471 mi

    Pinhoti Trail '18-19'

    @leonidasonthetrail https://www.youtube.com/user/tehJC13

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