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  1. #1
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    Default Do you know the trail at intersection with I 40 near Knoxville?

    Hi,
    More questions. Im relentless lol.
    I am considering hiking for a week next April. 3rd week in April to be precise. I am now considering hopping on the trail where the trail intersects I 40 south of the Knoxville area near the Tn NC border.
    I could fly in to Knoxville and a friend would drive me to the trail. No shuttles, no Ubbers, no worries that way.
    If anyone is familiar with this location, I want to pic your brain: I am older. So Id like to understand the difficulty of the trail.
    If I get on the trail here and go northbound into North Carolina, what am I in for?
    If I go southbound towards the Smokies what am I in for?
    We only plan to hike for 5 days then return home to Arizona. Maybe 50 to 60 miles total.
    Hey your input is Golden!
    Thanks

  2. #2
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    Quote Originally Posted by Seesfar View Post
    Hi,
    More questions. I’m relentless lol.
    I am considering hiking for a week next April. 3rd week in April to be precise. I am now considering hopping on the trail where the trail intersects I 40 south of the Knoxville area near the Tn NC border....
    If I get on the trail here and go northbound into North Carolina, what am I in for?
    If I go southbound towards the Smokies what am I in for?
    We only plan to hike for 5 days then return home to Arizona. Maybe 50 to 60 miles total.
    Hey your input is Golden!
    Thanks
    I'm not as knowledgeable as some others, but I'll try to help. First, I assume that was just a typo, and you meant NORTH not SOUTH.

    If you head towards the Smokies, you will enter the national park almost immediately. The trail through the park is a little more than 70 miles long, ending at Fontana Dam. You have the option of ending sooner at either Newfound Gap (~30 miles) or Clingman's Dome (~40 miles). From I-40 it will be uphill pretty much all the way, or you could start at NFG or CD and walk north to I-40, which will be downhill. The park requires that you obtain reservations for each shelter or campsite you intend to use, and carry a copy of the permit with you.

    Heading north from I-40 is similar terrain, though more varied (both up and down), and without the hassle of permits. I think it's about 30 miles from I-40 to Hot Springs NC. To Allen Gap is just under 50 miles. Use www.atdist.com to check other mileage options.

    In either case, if you do this in mid-April of next year, the trail will probably be LOADED with thru-hikers. If you want company, you'll have it. If you want solitude, adjust your plans.

    Also understand that mid-April weather can be pretty chilly. We did weekend trips in the Smokies in early and mid April and early May. For each of them, we dealt with temperatures in the teens at night. On the early May trip it was snowing lightly when we got back to our vehicle near Clingman's Dome. Or it could be warm, but be prepared either way.

    Assuming you have good weather, you'll have beautiful scenery and great views regardless of which direction you choose.

  3. #3

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    The trail from i40 northbound is lovely for many miles. Got some big climbs but still nice trail. You could look into i40-hot springs or even a bit further if you wished. Sams gap may be a good option
    Trail Miles: 4,317.5 - AT Trips: 72
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  4. #4

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    I like the section north of I40, but it's not easy. If your used to western trails, the AT will be quite a shock since we don't believe in switchbacks. You go straight up and straight down. And Mid April can still be quite cold and wet there. Which means muddy and slippery.
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  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by illabelle View Post
    I'm not as knowledgeable as some others, but I'll try to help. First, I assume that was just a typo, and you meant NORTH not SOUTH.

    If you head towards the Smokies, you will enter the national park almost immediately. The trail through the park is a little more than 70 miles long, ending at Fontana Dam. You have the option of ending sooner at either Newfound Gap (~30 miles) or Clingman's Dome (~40 miles). From I-40 it will be uphill pretty much all the way, or you could start at NFG or CD and walk north to I-40, which will be downhill. The park requires that you obtain reservations for each shelter or campsite you intend to use, and carry a copy of the permit with you.

    Heading north from I-40 is similar terrain, though more varied (both up and down), and without the hassle of permits. I think it's about 30 miles from I-40 to Hot Springs NC. To Allen Gap is just under 50 miles. Use www.atdist.com to check other mileage options.

    In either case, if you do this in mid-April of next year, the trail will probably be LOADED with thru-hikers. If you want company, you'll have it. If you want solitude, adjust your plans.

    Also understand that mid-April weather can be pretty chilly. We did weekend trips in the Smokies in early and mid April and early May. For each of them, we dealt with temperatures in the teens at night. On the early May trip it was snowing lightly when we got back to our vehicle near Clingman's Dome. Or it could be warm, but be prepared either way.

    Assuming you have good weather, you'll have beautiful scenery and great views regardless of which direction you choose.
    Sounds to me like you are very knowledgeable about the area. I appreciate it.
    Hey in GSMNP I have read that you are only allowed to sleep in your tent outside of the shelters. Are they really set on that. I am up several times a night and I snore. I think I will get thrown out in the middle of the night. Just wanted to get some verification on that must sleep in the shelter thing. I’d rather not deal with sleeping in the shelters.
    Thank You!

  6. #6
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    I worded that wrong. I have heard that you must sleep in the shelters. And not outside in your tent. Is this true?
    Thanks

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by Seesfar View Post
    Sounds to me like you are very knowledgeable about the area. I appreciate it.
    Hey in GSMNP I have read that you are only allowed to sleep in your tent outside of the shelters. Are they really set on that. I am up several times a night and I snore. I think I will get thrown out in the middle of the night. Just wanted to get some verification on that must sleep in the shelter thing. I’d rather not deal with sleeping in the shelters.
    Thank You!
    To promote social distancing as a COVID precaution, the park relaxed their rules and allowed tenting in the vicinity of the shelters. I don't know if that's still the case. Under the normal rules, only thru-hikers can tent, because their permit doesn't reserve shelter space. I wouldn't worry about the snoring and being up at night. Just be as quiet as you can and considerate of others. I figure snoring is just like all the other nighttime sounds of the woods.

    By the way, I strongly disagree with Slo-go'en about switchbacks. Here in the South we BELIEVE in switchbacks. It's those crazy people in the New England states (like New Hampshire) that build murderously steep trails - it ain't us!

  8. #8

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    I agree fall line hikes tend to be a New England tradition, there is some incredible switch backing down south. Its somewhat related to soils, the New England trails are not super friendly to sidehillng due to frost and thin depth. Rocks and ledge are the norm. Down south the soils are thicker and I perceive less bony therefore sidehills are lot easier to dig and maintain.

  9. #9
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    going north from I-40, you will pass Standing Bear Farm hostel almost immediately, then the first trail town is Hot Springs, NC. I loved Hot Springs, very hiker friendly town, the AT goes right thru downtown. The AT from I-40 to Hot Springs NC is a nice hike, not easy by any means, typical hills etc.

    going south from I-40, enter GSMNP, it's all uphill to Newfound Gap on 441. You could hitch into Gatlinburg, TN there if you wanted. Or hike a little further south to Clingman's Dome.
    JMHO but the northern half of the Smokies AT was more scenic than the southern half. Better vistas and views, etc.

    like other said though, weather in the Smokies could be brutal in month of April. Heavy snow and cold temps a definite possibility in April. Postholing deep snow shelter to shelter is a common experience in March-April in the Smokies. All depends on the timing of the winter storms that come across the country in April.

    good luck!

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by Slo-go'en View Post
    I like the section north of I40, but it's not easy. If your used to western trails, the AT will be quite a shock since we don't believe in switchbacks. You go straight up and straight down. And Mid April can still be quite cold and wet there. Which means muddy and slippery.
    Good to know thanks!

  11. #11
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    Late spring storms may dump heavy wet snow, but it typically doesn't last long around here. On our trips to the Smokies this spring, despite the cold temperatures, the snow on the ground was no more than a dusting.

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by illabelle View Post
    To promote social distancing as a COVID precaution, the park relaxed their rules and allowed tenting in the vicinity of the shelters. I don't know if that's still the case. Under the normal rules, only thru-hikers can tent, because their permit doesn't reserve shelter space. I wouldn't worry about the snoring and being up at night. Just be as quiet as you can and considerate of others. I figure snoring is just like all the other nighttime sounds of the woods.

    By the way, I strongly disagree with Slo-go'en about switchbacks. Here in the South we BELIEVE in switchbacks. It's those crazy people in the New England states (like New Hampshire) that build murderously steep trails - it ain't us!
    😊 That is good to know!

  13. #13
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    I did the section from I-40 to Hot Springs twice in 2019 (first with my daughter and second time alone). At the time I was 67. It is a very enjoyable section which is just under 34 miles. Lot of elevation change but very doable in 3 days/2 nights. Even more enjoyable over 4 days with lots of time at Max Patch! With your time frame that is what I would suggest. Last day is mostly down hill into Hot Springs. As others have stated, Hot Springs is a great hikers town and worth spending an extra day just to relax and get some good eats. Predicting the weather that time of year is impossible.

    If you continue North past Hot Springs, you will go thru what IMHO is one of the least scenic sections....just my 2 cents.

    Haven't done the park since the late 60s, so can't help there.
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  14. #14
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    FYI -

    Last I heard there is a bear issue from the FFA Towers to Max Patch Road. No camping allowed.

    I would say park in Hot Springs and shuttle back to I40 or StandingBear, or Max Patch.
    ''Tennessee Viking'
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  15. #15
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    One additional thought. If you want more miles, you can go thru Hot Springs to Allen Gap/ NC 208. That section will be 48.6 miles. Hwy 208 is a heavily traveled road and a good rendezvous point.
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  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by DownYonder View Post
    I did the section from I-40 to Hot Springs twice in 2019 (first with my daughter and second time alone). At the time I was 67. It is a very enjoyable section which is just under 34 miles. Lot of elevation change but very doable in 3 days/2 nights. Even more enjoyable over 4 days with lots of time at Max Patch! With your time frame that is what I would suggest. Last day is mostly down hill into Hot Springs. As others have stated, Hot Springs is a great hikers town and worth spending an extra day just to relax and get some good eats. Predicting the weather that time of year is impossible.

    If you continue North past Hot Springs, you will go thru what IMHO is one of the least scenic sections....just my 2 cents.

    Haven't done the park since the late 60s, so can't help there.
    yes my feeling also on the section north from Hot Springs to Erwin, TN, not one of my favorite sections. On the other hand: Erwin, TN to Damascus VA section was one of my favorite sections... thru Roan Highlands.

    where ever you hike, at least you're outdoors, and getting exercise, better anyday than sitting on the couch or cyber-hiking on youtube!

  17. #17

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    I'm not a fan of the GSMNP. The weather is never any good (4 out of the 5 times I've been there in late April/early May), there's way too many people crammed into the shelters and the whole permit thing is a pain (even though I understand why it's needed).

    I think the I40 (Davenport gap) to Hot Springs would be a good choice for the logistics and bang for the buck. For one thing, your timing can be more flexible. The view back to the Smokies from the top of Snowbird is hard to beat. It's a steady climb up out of the gap to the summit of Snowbird, but not overly steep. The next highlight is Max Patch, a large open bald.
    Follow slogoen on Instagram.

  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by Slo-go'en View Post
    I'm not a fan of the GSMNP. The weather is never any good (4 out of the 5 times I've been there in late April/early May), there's way too many people crammed into the shelters and the whole permit thing is a pain (even though I understand why it's needed).
    I think the I40 (Davenport gap) to Hot Springs would be a good choice for the logistics and bang for the buck. For one thing, your timing can be more flexible. The view back to the Smokies from the top of Snowbird is hard to beat. It's a steady climb up out of the gap to the summit of Snowbird, but not overly steep. The next highlight is Max Patch, a large open bald.
    I agree on GSMNP. I hiked it in 2012, right before they started charging people to camp in the backcountry. Too many people, and many are first time backpackers who are underprepared. The weather is a little nicer in the fall.

    Starting from I-40, you will have a big climb to start out going either direction. The climb going north isn't quite as bad as the one going south. I-40 to Hot Springs is a nice 3-day section. I hear Max Patch is nice, although I wouldn't know because the weather was nasty and visibility was down to about 100 ft when I came through. Also the ATC recently closed Max Patch to camping due to overuse.

    If you get to Hot Springs and want to hike for a couple more days, you could hike north to Allen Gap. It's OK. If you have transportation, there are several nice 2-day sections a little further north. Allen Gap to Devil Fork Gap, Sam's Gap to Erwin, Erwin to Iron Mountain Gap, and Carver's Gap to US 19E are all spectacular.
    It's all good in the woods.

  19. #19
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    You can call Bluff Mountain Outfitter in Hot Springs # 828-622-7162 or Laughing Heart Hostel #828-622-0165 & they are both happy to answer any questions and also provide you with shuttle options.
    Take Time to Watch the Trees Dance with The Wind.....Then Join In

  20. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by wornoutboots View Post
    You can call Bluff Mountain Outfitter in Hot Springs # 828-622-7162 or Laughing Heart Hostel #828-622-0165 & they are both happy to answer any questions and also provide you with shuttle options.
    👍🏼 Thank You all

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