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  1. #1

    Lightbulb Rough Draft for Smokies Thru in October...

    So, my wife and I are heading out in October to hike the Smokies Southbound. (I already have a thread going in the shuttles section about rides so here I am not looking for that info.)

    I have been trying to get an idea of which shelters to stay at for which nights.

    We will have 8 full days of nothing but hiking.

    There is 1 extra day on the front end in which we will use as the day of getting to the trail and start our hike so I don't count this as a full day and will keep the miles small.

    This will give us a total of 9 days to hike and make our way to and from the trail, and on the 10th day we will drive home so we can be at work the next day.

    Here is a rough itinerary so far:

    Day 1: Get a shuttle from Fontana to I - 40. Hike ~ 2.8 miles to Davenport Shelter for the night.

    Day 2: From Davenport Shelter, hike ~ 7.1 miles to Cosby Knob Shelter for the night.

    Day 3: From Cosby Knob Shelter, hike ~ 12.9 miles to Pecks Corner Shelter for the night.

    Day 4: From Pecks Corner Shelter, hike ~ 10.4 miles to Newfound Gap and hook up with a prearranged shuttle to Gatlinburg. Stay in a hotel in Gatlinburg for a shower, good hot meal, nice bed and a resupply.

    Day 5: Take shuttle back to Newfound Gap and hike ~ 4.5 miles to Mt. Collins Shelter for the night.

    Day 6: From Mt. Collins Shelter, hike ~ 8 miles to Silers Bald Shelter for the night.

    Day 7: From Silers Bald Shelter, hike ~ 11.8 miles to Spence Field Shelter for the night.

    Day 8: From Spence Field Shelter, hike ~ 5.4 miles to Mollies Ridge Shelter for the night.

    Day 9: From Mollies Ridge Shelter, hike ~ 12.4 miles to Fontana Dam (NC 28) for the night.

    Day 10: Drive home.

    We are not interested in visiting Gatlinburg for pleasure, but do like the idea of staying the night in a hotel, and this is a good place for it. Plus there are many an option of good eating, and it can all be walked to easily so no need for a shuttle in town. (Just there and back, and I think I can arrange that.)

    We are not trying to set records, but would like to take our time to get from one end to the other. Saying this, I know some of my days are big, but this is why I am posting this. There seems to be a good deal of shelters along the way, but these seem to be the ones that will work for us, by looking at the guides. So, if anyone has any suggestions, I am open to them.

    I can't think of anything else at the moment, so I will post this. (I will probably think of something after it's posted though, usually do...)

    Thanks.

  2. #2

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    I have read that there is a park shuttle bus that runs from Gatlinburg through Newfound Gap to Cherokee, does anyone know anything about it? I read in a guidebook that it is $7 / person one way or $12 / person round trip, but how often and at what times? Any ideas? (This could be a way for us to get from Newfound Gap to Gatlinburg and back.)

    Also, I am not sure where we park at Fontana, or where we end. Of course we want to hike back to our car, but reading the guide book, there is the "Fontana Dam (NC 28)", a "Fontana Dam Shelter" and the "Fontana Dam Visitor Center." I imagine that we will park at the Visitor Center, but I calculated the hike to Fontana Dam (NC 28) which is ~ a mile and a half farther. If we park at the Visitor Center, our last day will be that much shorter.

  3. #3

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    Yes you are right on the price aS of my hike last May. It runs from Cherokee to Pigeon Forge to Gatlinburg. Here is the website www.cherokeetransit.com/shuttle. I think they get to Newfound Gap around NOON for pickup and drop off. THEY MAKE A COMPLETE CIRCLE SO YOU MAY HAVE TO RIDE THE SHUTLE FOR 1-2 HOURS, NOT SURE ON THE TIME IT TAKES TO COMPLETE ROUTE.

  4. #4
    PCT, Sheltowee, Pinhoti, LT , BMT, AT, SHT, CDT 560 miles 10-K's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by STICK View Post
    Also, I am not sure where we park at Fontana, or where we end. Of course we want to hike back to our car, but reading the guide book, there is the "Fontana Dam (NC 28)", a "Fontana Dam Shelter" and the "Fontana Dam Visitor Center." I imagine that we will park at the Visitor Center, but I calculated the hike to Fontana Dam (NC 28) which is ~ a mile and a half farther. If we park at the Visitor Center, our last day will be that much shorter.
    Just drive to the dam - it'll all make sense when you see it. The dam and the visitor's center are adjacent to one another and that's where you park. You can throw a rock from the visitor's center to the dam - it's not a mile and a half difference.

    But, if you use The Hike Inn for a shuttle and leave your car at the dam that means they'll have to follow you down there to pick you up for the ride to Davenport Gap and I'm sure they'll tell you if you park in the wrong place. (which isn't really possible... )

  5. #5
    PCT, Sheltowee, Pinhoti, LT , BMT, AT, SHT, CDT 560 miles 10-K's Avatar
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    Also... I will be very interested to see if you can get that many shelter reservations in October.

    My guess is that some of them will be full and you'll have to juggle your itinerary a bit.

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    First Sergeant SGT Rock's Avatar
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    NOC in Gatlinburg was offering a free shuttle from the trail to B-Burg earlier this year when I talked to them. They said they may eventually have to start charging a little, but I would contact them to see if they were an option for you in October.
    SGT Rock
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  7. #7
    Registered User OldFeet's Avatar
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    If you stay at the Hike Inn and use their shuttle you can leave your car there and they will pick you up at the dam at the end of your hike. I did this in May and the visitors center let me use their phone to call the Inn. I only had to wait about 15 mintues for Nancy to pick me up. The hike from Mollies ridge to the visitors center on hte south end of the dam is more like 11 miles.

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    Registered User OldFeet's Avatar
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    By the way, on your way to Cosby Knob take the side trip to Mt. Cammer if the weather is good and you'll be rewarded with a very nice 360 degree view. It's a little under a mile round trip.

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    I just did the AT in the park SOBO a couple weeks ago in 4 nights. I like your plan MUCH better. Try and work in Icewater Shelter, it is really nice and has the best views. Also, you can save 1.6 miles of climbing and start at Davenport Gap instead of I-40.

  10. #10

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    I will be calling asap when I can to get the shelters reserved. I am talking the morning of...so I am crossing my fingers...

    The reason I ask about parking at the dam is because in the companion book there is 3 listings, totaling a mile and a half away. From Springer:

    at mile 162.6 is NC 28, Fontana Dam.
    at mile 163.7 is Fontana Dam Shelter.
    at mile 164.0 is the Fontana Dam Visitor Center.


    This has kind of thrown me a little...I figure when I get there I will see it all a little better than what the books explain, however, I will be arriving late at night and hopefully leaving early in the am. The hike from Mollies Ridge Shelter is 11 miles to the Fontana Dam Visitor Center, but 12.4 miles to Fontana Dam (NC 28). Just trying to get some clarification.

    Also, I would like to park at the dam to keep from having to pay for a shuttle from Fontana to Davenport at the beginning, and then again from Fontana to the Hike Inn at the end. I also like the idea of walking up to my truck as well since we will likely be getting in later in the day.

    I thought about the NOC shuttling hikers and am planning on calling them about it after reading that some of the hiker stores will do so around the area...thanks for the info though. I will call them sometime.

    Wow, 4 days. I would love to try that, but the wife and I are looking for some long easy days, and get lots of time sightseeing, as well as being out! I really hate to push her that hard, and truth be told, I probably shouldn't do it at the time as well.

    I have been to Icewater twice this year. Stayed there a few weeks ago. It does have a nice view. My favorite shelter so far though has been the Kephart Shelter (though it is off of this trail). It is a very nice shelter with a great creek right next to it. Beatiful place. If we don't end up getting the reservations we need, I may opt for staying at Icewater.

    Thanks everyone for the replies.

  11. #11
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    I'm the same way - I'd rather be at my car than have to wait for a ride. Parking at the dam is uber safe as well. Law enforcement on site w/ regular patrols, presumably to keep an eye on the dam.

    Having said that, they don't charge to come pick you up at the dam - it's included in the shuttle to Davenport Gap. And don't worry about parking. No matter what you do someone from the Hike Inn will have to follow you to the dam and will make sure you're parked correctly. But, you can't mess up. And it's not 1.4 miles from the dam to the visitor's center. It's like 100 yards or so...

    Quote Originally Posted by STICK View Post
    .

    Also, I would like to park at the dam to keep from having to pay for a shuttle from Fontana to Davenport at the beginning, and then again from Fontana to the Hike Inn at the end. I also like the idea of walking up to my truck as well since we will likely be getting in later in the day.

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    Quote Originally Posted by STICK View Post
    at mile 162.6 is NC 28, Fontana Dam.
    at mile 163.7 is Fontana Dam Shelter.
    at mile 164.0 is the Fontana Dam Visitor Center.
    I'm not local but here's what I've got in my head from reading the companion and recollections from my visit there last year...

    162.6 is where the AT crossees the paved road (NC28). I haven't hiked this section but I think that's by the Marina. If you go left, you go to the village of Fontana Dam (not much to write home about). If you go right , you are heading towards the outside world, including 6 miles down the road where you pass the Hike Inn.

    163.7 you pass by the Fontana Hilton Shelter. There's a sidewalk leading to the 164.0, the Visitor's Center which is next to the dam. There is where people say you can park.

    Having been there and done this on our hike last year from Winding Stair to Stecoah, I also would recommend parking and overnighting at the Hike Inn. They're SO nice and helpful and will help make everything work out for you.

    A friend and I are planning Stecoah Gap to Newfound Gap first week of October. Not sure if we're parking in Gatlinburg or Fontana. If the latter, we'll park and stay at the Hike Inn.

  13. #13
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    What Pyro says is correct.

    The Visitor center is ON the dam (or nearly so anyway).

    There is Ample parking at the dam, and if that is full there is a small lot on the other side of the dam OR at NC 28. The trail walk is just a bit longer from NC 28 to the dam than the road walk. OH yes, there is an about 5 car parking lot at the overlook near the shelter.

    The TVA police station is at the half way point from the shelter to the dam, they are VERY vigilant and patrol nearly constantly. At least they did 11 years ago when I was there last, & since 9/11 I bet they are even more obsessive.
    There is (was?) a pay phone outside on the down stream side of the visitors center. Showers can be had at the shelter.

    Quote Originally Posted by pyroman53 View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by STICK View Post
    at mile 162.6 is NC 28, Fontana Dam.
    at mile 163.7 is Fontana Dam Shelter.
    at mile 164.0 is the Fontana Dam Visitor Center.
    I'm not local but here's what I've got in my head from reading the companion and recollections from my visit there last year...

    162.6 is where the AT crossees the paved road (NC28). I haven't hiked this section but I think that's by the Marina. If you go left, you go to the village of Fontana Dam (not much to write home about). If you go right , you are heading towards the outside world, including 6 miles down the road where you pass the Hike Inn.

    163.7 you pass by the Fontana Hilton Shelter. There's a sidewalk leading to the 164.0, the Visitor's Center which is next to the dam. There is where people say you can park.

    Having been there and done this on our hike last year from Winding Stair to Stecoah, I also would recommend parking and overnighting at the Hike Inn. They're SO nice and helpful and will help make everything work out for you.

    A friend and I are planning Stecoah Gap to Newfound Gap first week of October. Not sure if we're parking in Gatlinburg or Fontana. If the latter, we'll park and stay at the Hike Inn.
    Curse you Perry the Platypus!

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    Here are the issues to think about when making your reservations:

    a) Mt Collins and Russell Field shelters are usually closed due to bear activity that time of year.
    b) Icewater is the most used shelter in the park and therefore hardest to get a reservation for
    c) the Hike from Derrick Shelter to Spence Field is THE HARDEST section of the trip. Plan to make that a single day. You always have the option to hike over to Russell if you get to Spence early enough in the day and still feel good.
    d) Shelters near the roads (Icewater, Collins, Double Springs, maybe Silers) could be hard to get in October because that is peak leaf watching season, but Ive never had a problem whenever I am out there. Be prepared to add a day to your schedule if one of those shelters is full.

    PM me if you have any further questions.
    ----------------
    SMHC Trail Maintainer
    Volunteer in the Park (VIP) GSMNP

  15. #15

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    I know I could probably just do the math, but does anyone know off the top of their heads how many miles of the AT is in GSMNP?

    Thanks.

  16. #16
    First Sergeant SGT Rock's Avatar
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    The "Brown Book" says 71.4
    SGT Rock
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