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  1. #1
    Wild at Heart J5man's Avatar
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    Question How long to hike Smoky Section?

    I am planning on doing my first section hike this Spring and want to do the Smokies. How long would it take, it looks like it is appx 70 miles. Would you go from North to South or South to North? Also it doesn't like there would be any places along the way to re-stock food. Is that correct? I am thinking of starting at Davenport Gap and finishing at Fontana Dam. I have stayed at the resort there and that might be a nice way to end the hike!

  2. #2
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    Give it a five or six days, at least. Less if you're a seasoned hiker, but why push it?

    Re-supply... hmm. Gatlinburg?

  3. #3

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    I'm from KY too(Elizabethtown). What's up neighbor?
    It may be crowded during the thru-hiker rush. You will need to get a permit for the shelters if you want to stay legal. I have heard of people getting checked and fined.
    I don't think it would matter wich way you go it's a tough hike either way. At the north end outside the park there's Standing Bear Farm a little past I-40. It's a cool little hostel if you wanted to start or end your hike there.
    I've done that section 3 times. I did it 3 days one time. I was in good hiking shape at the time and it was still pretty tough. Like terrapin said go for 5-6 if you have time and relax and not push it.
    You can go to Gatlinburg to re-supply but its far and you would need a ride. Shouldn't be a problem to carry enough food for trip.

  4. #4
    Super Moderator Marta's Avatar
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    When I did it as a section I spent a week hiking. The practical reason was that my husband dropped me off on Sunday and picked me up on Saturday. That's a pretty leisurely pace. The only reasonable resupply is Gatlinburg, but it's a long hitch, and not really worth it, IMO, during a section hike. I'd hike SOBO, of course. Definitely take the side trail to Mt. Cammerer fire tower the first day. It's worth it.

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  5. #5
    Wild at Heart J5man's Avatar
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    Aaron & Marta, thanks for the insight and advice. Yes, Gatlinburg is a "fer piece" off the beaten track so it was good to hear that I would not really need to re-stock to make the trek. This will be my first true backpacking trip. I have camped many times and hiked many times but not together. I got the AT bug last year while doing some dayhiking in the Smokies. I hiked the Twenty Mile Trail and took a right on the AT to Shuckstack and climbed the tower. Came back and started reading about the AT and now can't wait to start doing some sections. I would love to thru hike but I don't have 6 months of free time to do it (hoepfully someday). So in the meantime, these types of hikes will let me know how much I will really enjoy it.

  6. #6
    Wild at Heart J5man's Avatar
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    Terrapin, props out to you too for your advice. I may only have 5 "hiking days" to complete it but I much prefer the slower pace to stop and smell the roses. (and fish along the way too!)

  7. #7

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    Five days is perfectly doable but you'll probably be happier with six; be aware you have a VERY solid climb to the ridge on your first day if you're going Southbound, especially if you're not planning to re-supply in Gat meaning you'll be starting with a monster foodbag. Logistically, it might be easier for you to start in Fontana and head NORTH; Standing Bear Farm is just a few miles past the Northern border of the Park and is a very cool place to visit. Plus, you could leave a vehicle there, or have Curtis shuttle you to where ever you need to get back to. (And hitching in and out of Gatlinbutg is actually quite easy if you decide you don't want to carry all your food from Day One).

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    Thumbs up

    I did this hike April before last, during my nephew's Spring Break. He hiked half the Park with me and his mom (my sister) met us at Newfound Gap and re-supplied me.

    We hiked to Mollies Ridge, then to Silers Bald, then to Icewater Springs, then Tri-Corner Knob, then out to Standing Bear Farm. I definitely recommend the side trip to Mt. Cammermer lookout.

    We had some snow on the ground, some slight rain once or twice, nice fog in the mornings, and lots of blue skies and puffy clouds.

    There were lots of NOBO thru-hikers.

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  9. #9

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    I'll be out on the trail next weekend. I'm using the AT between Spence Field and Miry Ridge Trail jct as part of a loop starting at GSM Institute at Tremont.
    Maybe I'll spot some 07 nobos.

  10. #10
    Wild at Heart J5man's Avatar
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    If I hike it in April, will I need a 20* bag to be safe?

  11. #11

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    I just got back and did it in 7 days but did the Boulevard Trail to Leconte. I agree, the first day is a tough climb. If you do Fontana to D Gap the hike from Mollies Ridge to Derricks Knob is also a tough day. Either way, its a great hike for it to be your first. I just packed all of my food for the 7 days. Good luck with your hike. Its well worth it!

  12. #12
    Registered User Pokey2006's Avatar
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    Yes, you'll need a warm sleeping bag. All of the shelters/campsites are at high elevations on the AT in the Smokys. It gets very cold up there!

    Someone mentioned starting at Standing Bear Hostel and having Curtis shuttle you to Fontana...you could also have him shuttle you to another spot, say, the Gatlinburg gap, then you would be able to go at a more liesurely pace and not have to rush back. If you only have 5 days (did I read that right?), you might want to consider that option or ask Curtis for other suggestions.

    The whole stretch is certainly doable if you have a full week (6-7 days). But like Jack said, remember how heavy your food bag will be, and allow yourself extra time the first couple of days.

    However you do it, enjoy. That is a wonderful stretch of trail.

  13. #13
    Springer-->Stony Brook Road VT MedicineMan's Avatar
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    Default didnt see it in the park reg's but i'm sure

    it would be frowned upon, but some of us have put caches in some places we intended to hike....at newfound gap you could probably put a cache on top of the restroom building and no one would notice
    Like others here I've done the AT in the Smokies 3 times, unless you are a die hard purist just remember that there are hundreds of miles (used to be 900 but i think it has dwindled to around 800 with gov. fund cutbacks) of trails, many possibilities including the AT and the BMT...i used parts of the BMT (Lakeshore Trail) 2 summers ago on a paddle trip from bryson city to fontana village and really enjoyed seeing a part of the park that few people get to see, maybe something to think about
    Start out slow, then slow down.

  14. #14

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    Quote Originally Posted by J5man View Post
    If I hike it in April, will I need a 20* bag to be safe?
    I would, yes.

    RainMan

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  15. #15

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    I left on my thru May 1 and had snow flurries in the GSMNP, so take the 20 degree bag.

    Since you are hiking just the GSMNP you'll have to reserve shelter space; that might dictate your schedule.

  16. #16

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    Ideal smokies hike lasts 9 days. 3 days to Clingmans Dome, hitch to Gatlinburg and stay 3 days at the Grand Prix Inn, then back to the trail and finish at Standing Bear and celebrate with some moonshine. :P

  17. #17

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    Quote Originally Posted by atkentucky View Post
    Ideal smokies hike lasts 9 days. 3 days to Clingmans Dome, hitch to Gatlinburg and stay 3 days at the Grand Prix Inn, then back to the trail and finish at Standing Bear and celebrate with some moonshine. :P
    Why 3 days at Grand Prix? By the time he gets his trail legs, he puts on 3 zeros and is back to square one. 9 days is much. I did 7 with a side trail on that and was at Standing Bear with 2 days to spare and I was averaging 12 miles a day. Not criticizing just trying to understand why anyone would want 3 days in Gatlinburg when you are on a hike or 3 zeros anytime on a hike uless its a thru? Gatlinburg will be INSANE in April.

  18. #18

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    Quote Originally Posted by Jack Tarlin View Post
    Five days is perfectly doable but you'll probably be happier with six; be aware you have a VERY solid climb to the ridge on your first day if you're going Southbound, especially if you're not planning to re-supply in Gat meaning you'll be starting with a monster foodbag. Logistically, it might be easier for you to start in Fontana and head NORTH; Standing Bear Farm is just a few miles past the Northern border of the Park and is a very cool place to visit. Plus, you could leave a vehicle there, or have Curtis shuttle you to where ever you need to get back to. (And hitching in and out of Gatlinbutg is actually quite easy if you decide you don't want to carry all your food from Day One).
    I agree with Jack here. I did Fontana to D Gap and the first 2 days were tough but smooth sailin after that. By the third day, ups and downs were no problem after the run from Mollies to Derricks. Gets you wiped into shape very quickly.

  19. #19

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    J5man,
    You may want to do some practice hikes with a full pack since you haven't done any backpacking before. This will give you an idea of what kind of mileage you can handle. There is no way anyone on this forum, that doesn't personally know you, can really tell you how long it would take you to do the hike your planning. Already the answers have ranged from 3 to 9 days. A couple of long day hikes with a full pack will give the best indication of how your hike will go.
    Check out Jefferson Memorial forest for a decent place near Louisville for some trial hikes.http://www.memorialforest.com/hike/default.html
    The terrain isn't Smokies' terrain but there are some trails with some steep hills.

  20. #20

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    Quote Originally Posted by Lowspark View Post
    Why 3 days at Grand Prix? By the time he gets his trail legs, he puts on 3 zeros and is back to square one. 9 days is much. I did 7 with a side trail on that and was at Standing Bear with 2 days to spare and I was averaging 12 miles a day. Not criticizing just trying to understand why anyone would want 3 days in Gatlinburg when you are on a hike or 3 zeros anytime on a hike uless its a thru? Gatlinburg will be INSANE in April.

    Well that was actually a joke. Thats how long we stayed because we got sucked in to the tourist trap. Drank too many nights at the Brewery. It was amazing in May there were record tempuratures and we actually got to swim in the pool :P But no reason to go to Gatlinburg if you are just doing a week hike.

    Once you get through the 1st 55 miles, the last 15 miles are mostly easy sloping and downhill. Makes for a quick shot to Standing Bear.

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