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  1. #1
    Member Tehghost132's Avatar
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    Great Smoky Mountains National Park - Advice?

    Im planning a 5 day hike into the Smoky Mountains National Park with some friends of mine. Looking at the website, it seems I need to plan exactly where we will be setting up camp every night to inform the rangers.

    So, any interesting places I need to plan, or any advice in general would be appreciated. Planning to enter the park from NC, around the Asheville area.

  2. #2
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    You will need a backcountry camping permit and pay a $4 per night per person fee. The permit process is pretty simple and you can apply online up to 30 days before the first night of your trip. I would apply for the permit as soon as possible though as some sites fill up fast. I applied for a permit to hike the AT through GSMNP in late August and found one of our planned stops to be full.

    Here is the reservation site:
    https://smokiespermits.nps.gov/index...PermitTypeID=1

    I can't comment on recommendations of what to see. I have not hiked much there. I have been to Cades Cove. It is pretty and you can see a lot of wildlife there but very crowded. It has an 11 mile loop road that runs through it so it attracts a lot of people that don't want to put forth any effort.

  3. #3

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    Some of us Ohio guys just got back from a 4 day trip. We wanted some time on the AT walking the ridge line but not wanting to stay in the shelters because we wanted to hang. We found that we had to hike some substantial distances to get to camp sites (long descents & return climbs) each evening and back the next morning. We wound up calling the back country office from the parking lot of Clingman's dome which is one of the few spots in the park where there is cell service and changing our reservations (luckily). This is much easier with a small group.

    We used 2 cars so we could shuttle ourselves between starting and ending locations.

    Initially we had planned to take out on the lower elevations of the NC side near Cherokee but changed around to hike out at the campgrounds in Cades Cove. I think next year we will hike the side trails of the other side of the main ridge.

    David

  4. #4
    CrankyOldGuy's Avatar
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    It's been 10+ years, but we hiked from Clingman's Dome to the Fontana Dam. My experience was that we could sleep in any shelter, although the permit says otherwise. We tried to stick to the reservations we made, but it just didn't work out. It was peak hiking season and talking to others, it seemed that others found that being "flexible" was the most practical approach.

    Since then, we've done quite a few 3 day stints on the AT and adjacent trails with and without reservations. No one has ever asked to see our pass.
    "A bore is a man who deprives you of solitude without providing you with company." Gian Vincenzo Gravina (1664 - 1718)

  5. #5
    Member Tehghost132's Avatar
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    Yeah, its kind of confusing because I havnt been there before. I will probably go up there by myself next week for a few days just to feel around.

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tehghost132 View Post
    Im planning a 5 day hike into the Smoky Mountains National Park with some friends of mine. Looking at the website, it seems I need to plan exactly where we will be setting up camp every night to inform the rangers.

    So, any interesting places I need to plan, or any advice in general would be appreciated. Planning to enter the park from NC, around the Asheville area.
    Coming in from the Asheville Area, you could hike out of Big Creek Ranger Station. I've hanged my hammock at Walnut Bottom (campsite 37), then proceed from there to many different places. Look at Campsite 37 on the map you can see a wealth of places to go from there to make 5 days. I've always done 2-3 days hike out of Walnut Bottom, but the option to go longer is there. You could hike from Low Gap (Low Gap is connected to campsite 37) cross over the AT to Cosby and Maddron Bald area. Then perhaps work your way over to Mt. Cammerer campsite and descend from there to car at Big Creek? That should round up 5 days of hiking while seeing beautiful creeks, waterfall, the bald, old growth forest, etc.

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