I saw this and thought it needed to be posted here.
Here at ATC we have received a couple calls about whether it is legal to use a hammock on the A.T. in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Yesterday I called the backcountry specialist in the park to get the definitive response. Here's what she said.
Hammocks are acceptable in the same circumstances (when a person who meets the park's thru-hiker definition finds the shelter full and has the appropriate permit) and locations (in the immediate vicinity of an A.T. shelter) that tents are acceptable. It is not acceptable to hang a hammock in a shelter or from a shelter. The park has started noticing resource impacts from hammocks, meaning damage to trees and trampling. She hopes that the A.T. community can work together to educate our fellow hikers about minimizing impacts and following good Leave No Trace practices. If behavior can be changed voluntarily through education, then additional restrictions will not be needed and the freedom to use a hammock will be preserved.
If you use a hammock, please use a wide band around the tree to protect the bark. To reduce trampling impacts, choose a location where vegetation will have minimal damage (choose areas with durable surfaces like grass or leaves, rather than lush vegetation), use soft-soled shoes, and be mindful of your footprints, especially in areas where there is fragile vegetation.
More information about hammock camping from Leave No Trace can be found at http://leavenotracecommunity.blogspo...k-camping.html.
More on Leave No Trace generally can be found at www.appalachiantrail.org/lnt and www.lnt.org.
Please share this information with other hammockers.