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Thread: GSMNP borders?

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    Registered User Theosus's Avatar
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    Default GSMNP borders?

    I want to do a three or four day section in NC. Im guessing 30 miles or so would probably be a good section. The rules about thru-hiking and shelters and tenting just put me off from even trying the GSMNP. But where are the borders? Map books I have don't really show where it begins and ends, only a big swath of green across many states with several national forests, parks, 'blue ridge mountains', etc. How far can I go in NC before I find myself ensconced in the rules of the GSMNP? What is a good section with some parking or shuttle access at both ends? I have the AT Guide by AWOL, and although it lists road crossings and parking coordinates, I'd prefer to hear from people who have been there. I'll be hammocking, not staying in shelters. Im looking for some nice views and such if I can find them, not really interested in towns, unless there is one I can park at and catch a shuttle from a hotel or something.
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    Hiker bigcranky's Avatar
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    Fontana Dam is the southern end on the AT, and Davenport Gap is the northern end.

    Good 30 mile sections in NC include the Standing Indian loop, and either half of the Nantahalas -- from Winding Stair Gap to NOC, or from NOC to Fontana Dam.

    Other good sections further north around Erwin, TN, too.
    Ken B
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    Registered User moytoy's Avatar
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    Taken from AWOLs guide ...btw AWOL has been there.
    At mile 167.1 NoBo is the southern terminis of the AT in the GSMNP
    At mile 78.5 in the NC-Ga border
    So you have 88.6 miles south of the GSMNP in NC
    It's all good
    It's really pretty easy to stay out of the GSMNP is that's your goal.
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    Trail miscreant Bearpaw's Avatar
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    The park starts at Fontana Dam on the south, and ends at Davenport Gap, about three miles south of I-40, on the north.

    One good option already mentioned is Winding Stair Gap to Nantahala Outdoor Center, 27.5 miles. park at NOC and get shuttled to Winding Stair. Your hike will include three awesome viewpoints at Siler, Wayah, and Wesser Balds and a finish at NOC, complete with showers and restaurants available.

    Another good option would be Standing Bear Hostel (Green Corner Rd, a mile north of I-40 just outside the park) to Hot Springs, NC. You can park at either end and get shuttled, though I would recommend finishing in Hot Springs. You hit Balds with views on Snowbird Mtn and experience the 360 view and wonder of Max Patch, a massive bald hill, with views out to forever. And Hot Springs is a great place to end the hike.
    If people spent less time being offended and more time actually living, we'd all be a whole lot happier!

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    Trail miscreant Bearpaw's Avatar
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    I forgot to mention that Standing Bear to Hot Springs is 34.1 miles.
    If people spent less time being offended and more time actually living, we'd all be a whole lot happier!

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    Registered User Theosus's Avatar
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    Exactly what I was looking for! Thank you.

    Oh - and to moytoy - I didnt mean to imply he hasnt been there. I read his book.
    Maybe I should have said I prefer to ask people that will reply to me, and I can interact with. I spent 12 hours at a NASCAR track yesterday
    making sure the unwashed masses didn't hurt themselves or each other. Im still addled from the experience.


    Quote Originally Posted by Bearpaw View Post
    The park starts at Fontana Dam on the south, and ends at Davenport Gap, about three miles south of I-40, on the north.

    One good option already mentioned is Winding Stair Gap to Nantahala Outdoor Center, 27.5 miles. park at NOC and get shuttled to Winding Stair. Your hike will include three awesome viewpoints at Siler, Wayah, and Wesser Balds and a finish at NOC, complete with showers and restaurants available.

    Another good option would be Standing Bear Hostel (Green Corner Rd, a mile north of I-40 just outside the park) to Hot Springs, NC. You can park at either end and get shuttled, though I would recommend finishing in Hot Springs. You hit Balds with views on Snowbird Mtn and experience the 360 view and wonder of Max Patch, a massive bald hill, with views out to forever. And Hot Springs is a great place to end the hike.
    Please don't read my blog at theosus1.Wordpress.com
    "I took the one less traveled by, and that has made all the difference. Thank God for Search and Rescue" - Robert Frost (first edit).

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    Registered User moytoy's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Theosus View Post

    Oh - and to moytoy - I didnt mean to imply he hasnt been there. I read his book.
    Maybe I should have said I prefer to ask people that will reply to me, and I can interact with. I spent 12 hours at a NASCAR track yesterday
    making sure the unwashed masses didn't hurt themselves or each other. Im still addled from the experience.
    Yea .. I figured but I like be a smartxxx ...
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    Quote Originally Posted by bigcranky View Post
    Fontana Dam is the southern end on the AT, and Davenport Gap is the northern end.

    Good 30 mile sections in NC include the Standing Indian loop, and either half of the Nantahalas -- from Winding Stair Gap to NOC, or from NOC to Fontana Dam.

    Other good sections further north around Erwin, TN, too.
    BOLO in the Erwin area for gun packing dope heads.....The recent incident at Beatuy Spot are very rare,just try to avoid camping too close to forest roads...

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    Hiker bigcranky's Avatar
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    Yeah, Beauty Spot is awesome, but it's far too close to a road/parking area for me to camp there again.
    Ken B
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    Registered User 78owl's Avatar
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    I love the Davenport Gap area. Good Loop area. Park at ranger station . Chestnut Branch trail to At south to Mt Cammerer, Cosby Shelter, South to Tricorner Shelter. Balsam Mtn trail to Laurel Gap shelter, Benton Mackaye trail, by other names, back to Davenport Gap. Good views if weather cooperates.

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    The rules about thru-hiking and shelters and tenting just put me off from even trying the GSMNP



    but, why?

    they aren't that difficult.......

  12. #12

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    Quote Originally Posted by TNhiker View Post
    but, why?

    they aren't that difficult.......
    The 80 odd miles that the AT runs thru the GSMNP is are the worst 80 miles of the entire AT.

    Why? I don't want to figure out an itinerary 30 days in advance that requires that I hike exactly 10.86 miles one day and 13.62 miles the next and then have to sleep like sardines in a can in a mouse infested smelly shelter.

    I want to hike 6 miles or 26 miles or anything in between and tent where I want to.

    The ONLY time I'd hike in the GSMNP is on a thru. Too many nice places to walk than in that dump.

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    again....

    the rules really arent that difficult to follow....

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    Nalgene Ninja flemdawg1's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by max patch View Post
    The 80 odd miles that the AT runs thru the GSMNP is are the worst 80 miles of the entire AT.

    Why? I don't want to figure out an itinerary 30 days in advance that requires that I hike exactly 10.86 miles one day and 13.62 miles the next and then have to sleep like sardines in a can in a mouse infested smelly shelter.

    I want to hike 6 miles or 26 miles or anything in between and tent where I want to.

    The ONLY time I'd hike in the GSMNP is on a thru. Too many nice places to walk than in that dump.
    Sounds like someone who hasn't done it. Because, it's actually awesomely beautiful, the shelters are actually some of the nicest on the entire AT, And its not that hard to figure out that 6-9 miles might be too short but 12-14 is ok.

    A hiking trip experience is mostly having a good attitude to start. If you start out thinking a adventure will suck, you'll find a way in your own mind to match that expectation. Ditto for the opposite.

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    Quote Originally Posted by flemdawg1 View Post
    ..... it's actually awesomely beautiful, the shelters are actually some of the nicest on the entire AT, And its not that hard to figure out that 6-9 miles might be too short but 12-14 is ok.
    Yeah, this.
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    I have to agree, its not that bad.
    And the rules are there to control the amount of people, and preserve the park.
    I cant argue with that. (leaving the fee out of the discussion of course)

    But honestly, the views arent any better than the NC from Winding Stair to Fontana, and there are definitely LESS of them.

    Dont hesitate to do a NC hike instead.
    "Inevitably, a long distance hiker must choose between travelling light, and not travelling at all." - Earl V. Shaffer

  17. #17

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    Quote Originally Posted by MuddyWaters View Post
    And the rules are there to control the amount of people, and preserve the park.
    I cant argue with that.
    I agree that without the rules the park would be loved to death. If you choose to hike in the park you should follow the rules.

    But there are 2,100 other miles of the AT that are just as beautiful and do not have all the hoops to jump thru that the park requires. So I choose not to hike in those 80 miles.

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    Registered User HeartFire's Avatar
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    Having hiked all but 17 miles of the 800+ miles of trail in the GSMNP, I love the Smokies, I do think that the AT in the park is my least favorite trail (after Welch Ridge of course). I am always amazed at how people are scared of hiking in the park. There are some fabulous trails, incredible views and wonderful campsites in the Smokies. People fuss about the rules and having to stay at the shelters or campsites - yet they shelter hop the rest of the AT.

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    I40 roughly NC/TN border is the northern end. Then 441 cuts right through the middle of the park. And then Fontana Dam for the Southern. There is also access at Cades Cove.

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    Quote Originally Posted by max patch View Post
    The 80 odd miles that the AT runs thru the GSMNP is are the worst 80 miles of the entire AT.

    Why? I don't want to figure out an itinerary 30 days in advance that requires that I hike exactly 10.86 miles one day and 13.62 miles the next and then have to sleep like sardines in a can in a mouse infested smelly shelter.

    I want to hike 6 miles or 26 miles or anything in between and tent where I want to.

    The ONLY time I'd hike in the GSMNP is on a thru. Too many nice places to walk than in that dump.
    the shelters are nice in the Smokies but the trail through this section is the worst part of the AT in my opinion. with the horse torn up the trail on the northern end and the 6 inch wide trail thru the rest of the park.......there are many sections that are much nicer.
    Tridavis

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