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  1. #1
    El Sordo
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    Default bushwhacking in the Smokies

    Does anyone know if there is an official park policy regarding off trail hiking? I'm trying to plan a loop hike for later this month and the trails don't quite line up the way I'd like, but it looks like a fairly short bushwhack would do the trick for me.

  2. #2

  3. #3

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    I just looked at the official website (run by the National park Service) for the Smokies. In the "backcountry use" section there is extensive commentary on where one can CAMP but I saw nothing that prohibits anyone from hiking off of established Trails.......as long as you're not over-nighting. Just to be sure, tho, you might want to call the Park office before your trip.

  4. #4

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    I don't know what the answer is, but when you consider that

    (a) you need a permit that shows where you will spend each night to overnight hike, and
    (b) you have to stay at designated campsites, and
    (c) there are a lot of visitors there who arn't really hikers,

    I bet I can guess what the answer is going to be when you call em.

  5. #5
    Registered User Tennessee Viking's Avatar
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    The Smokies are part of the South Beyond 6000 challenge. There are a couple peaks where trails don't lead to the top peaks.

    Contact the Smokies offices about bushwhacking policies. Because they might restrict certain areas.
    ''Tennessee Viking'
    Mountains to Sea Trail Maintainer
    Former TEHCC (AT) Maintainer
    Falls Lake Trail: 2011

  6. #6
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    hogs and bears do a heluva lot more damage than a short bushwhack will ever do. go for it

  7. #7
    Registered User bulldog49's Avatar
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    It is permissable to bushwack in the park. But you are required to camp only in designated campsites or shelters.
    "If you don't know where you're going...any road will get you there."
    "He who's not busy living is busy dying"

  8. #8
    El Sordo
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    Default

    ok, got it. sometimes the answer you get depends on who you ask, but i don't recall reading anywhere that you are required to hike only on the designated trails. I know about the camping regs, but that won't be an issue.

  9. #9
    Merry Hikester
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    I met a fellow in 04 "Restless" he was doing some crazy smokies bushwacking hike as far as I can remember. He seemed legit.
    Disclaimer: I didn't mean that......I realy love you all.

  10. #10
    Registered User bredler's Avatar
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    Better to beg forgiveness than ask permission.

  11. #11

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    Quote Originally Posted by bredler View Post
    Better to beg forgiveness than ask permission.
    Who would know unless you tell them?

  12. #12
    El Sordo
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    Quote Originally Posted by take-a-knee View Post
    Who would know unless you tell them?
    without adding up the exact mileage I'd say that the campsites I'm looking at (#53 and #53) are about 6 miles apart with a short bushwhack down Bee Tree Ridge or perhaps twice that on numbered trails. Sometimes when I apply for a permit by phone I've been asked my route, especially if it seems overly ambitious. If I do this loop it will include a bit of the AT and I will need to request reservations for the shelters. So basically they'll ask and I'll tell them.

  13. #13
    Thru-Hike Dreaming valleyfire's Avatar
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    Hey generoll where is Bee Tree Ridge exactly? I found #53 on the map but couldn't find that name.

  14. #14
    Registered User weary's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jack Tarlin View Post
    I just looked at the official website (run by the National park Service) for the Smokies. In the "backcountry use" section there is extensive commentary on where one can CAMP but I saw nothing that prohibits anyone from hiking off of established Trails.......as long as you're not over-nighting. Just to be sure, tho, you might want to call the Park office before your trip.
    While exploring the Smokies in 1993, I ran across a couple of mapped trails so overgrown that they required bushwhacking.

    Weary

  15. #15
    As in "dessert" not "desert"
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    Just make sure you have a good map and compass and know how to use them.

  16. #16
    El Sordo
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    Quote Originally Posted by valleyfire View Post
    Hey generoll where is Bee Tree Ridge exactly? I found #53 on the map but couldn't find that name.
    Look for the Thomas Divide Trail. Between the point where it ends at 441 and where it intersects Kanati Fork Trail there's a bend in the trail at a ridge top. That's marked as Beetree Ridge on my map and that ridge appears to lead right to the Deep Creek Trail.

    I'm still not sure exactly what I'm gonna do, but I was trying to connect some dots and that seemed like a possibility. I hiked from Clingmans Dome to Fontana in 1961, From Newfound Gap to Icewater Springs in 1970, and from Davenport Gap to Pecks Corner last December. I just have a few more blank spaces to fill in to have covered the whole AT through the Smokies.

  17. #17

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    Careful, some places make for easy bushwhacking. The Smokies is NOT one of them.

    I've tried, it can get very thick, steep, and wet. (ended up following a stream and the only way i could keep going was to walk in the middle of the stream, just too thick with brush/blowdowns/sticker bushes etc. )

  18. #18

    Default

    Check with the Smoky Moutnain Hiking Club, they run group bushwhacks year round in the smokies. http://www.smhclub.org/

  19. #19

    Default Bushwhack(ed)

    Hey Gene,
    Not sure if you have done your trip yet. Being from thge Smokies I have done a few bushwhacks including one up to LeConte. It isn't the easiest place but can be done. Beware of rhodo hells, but outside of that there are plenty of great opportunities.I have an old park map that actually shows all the old trails(now referred to as manways), RR grades and many of the home sites in the smokies. It is commonly referred to as the east half west half map. The Map Store in Knoxville has these for sale
    "Take another road to another place,disappear without a trace..." --Jimmy Buffet

  20. #20
    El Sordo
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    I'll take a peek online and see what they have. I may just see about leaving my car at Smokemont and getting one of the kids to shuttle me to Clingmans Dome if the road is open. Probably the easiest solution. Time's getting short so I guess I better make up my mind. Good to hear from you Jim. Where are you these days? I'm thinking about trying to do one of the October work bees. You going to be anywhere around the Smokies then?

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