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  1. #1
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    Great Smoky Mtn NP shelters and hammocks

    I was reading that they do not allow tent camping at shelters in GSMNP but does anyone know if they allow hammocks? Trying to avoid sleeping in the shelters, when hike that section of the AT. Have emailed the rangers but not hold breath on a reply. Thanks

  2. #2
    Senior Member SmokeHouse's Avatar
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    If no one responds, www.Whiteblaze.net is the place to asked.

  3. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by brikamaky View Post
    I was reading that they do not allow tent camping at shelters in GSMNP but does anyone know if they allow hammocks? Trying to avoid sleeping in the shelters, when hike that section of the AT. Have emailed the rangers but not hold breath on a reply. Thanks
    The NPS views hammocks as hanging tents. Shelter stay is required and reservations are required. There is a provision in place that a "thru-hiker" may tent at a shelter if the shelter is full upon their arrival. There are various interpretations of the term "thru-hiker" so you would need to hash out that detail with them.

    Keep in mind that they do enforce these rules via "Ridge Runners". Many people attempt (and some succeed) to ignore the rules, but the rules are in place and enforced for a reason. If you are curious about what that reason is, I again recommend hashing that out with the NPS.

    Finally, I spent a WONDERFUL night at Peck's Corner shelter one July evening. I was completely alone, never even saw another hiker the entire day. I started out in my bag in the shelter but the bugs got really bad so I pitched my tent INSIDE THE SHELTER and crawled in and away from the skeeters. No reason why one couldn't hammock inside a shelter given that it does not interefere with anyone else who is staying there.

  4. #4
    Senior Member Ewker's Avatar
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    lots of campsites in the Smokies. Plan a route that doesn't include camping at the shelters
    There are times that the only way you can do something is alone – that waiting on the convenience of others means that a lot of opportunities will pass you by
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  5. #5
    Senior Member Bearpaw's Avatar
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    The only legal way to hang or tent next to a shelter is to be on a "Thru-hiker" permit AND the shelter has to be full. To qualify for a thru-hiker pass, you need to begin an AT hike at least 50 miles outside of the park and end your trip at least 50 miles on the other side of the park.

    Can you get away with hanging? Maybe if there is not a ridgerunner or ranger in the area. But if you get caught, you could risk a fine or be told to keep hiking out of the park. I've seen it happen one time in the last decade, so it's not likely, but it IS possible.

    Ewker's advice is better. PLENTY of campsites in the Smokies where there is no problem with hanging.

  6. #6
    Señor Member wisenber's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ewker View Post
    lots of campsites in the Smokies. Plan a route that doesn't include camping at the shelters
    I think he was wanting to section hike the AT. That pretty much eliminates the alternatives.

    Also, be wary of hanging IN a shelter. It would not take much to pull one of those down.

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    Senior Member SGT Rock's Avatar
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  9. #9
    Senior Member SGT Rock's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by brikamaky View Post
    I was reading that they do not allow tent camping at shelters in GSMNP but does anyone know if they allow hammocks? Trying to avoid sleeping in the shelters, when hike that section of the AT. Have emailed the rangers but not hold breath on a reply. Thanks
    Here is the straight poop from one that regularly hikes that area.

    1. You must be a thru-hiker. By their definition your hike must start at least 50 miles before and end at least 50 miles after the boundaries of the park. The have no one to verify this, it is done on the honor system. So if you said you started at Hot Springs and are going to Franklin, you would qualify in their eyes to be a thru-hiker.

    2. The shelter must be full. In the spring, this is pretty easy to meet. I usually walk to the shelter and start making dinner, don't claim any shelter space. When it gets night time you say "looks like the shelter is full, guys I'll have to pitch a tarp". And you are covered.

    If you can't meet both of those you might try hanging in the shelter, no rule says you can't - and I have done this a lot too.

    If you can't meet any of that, well then you have to break rules to hang on the AT. There is a good chance if you hang outside the normal "thru-hiker" season no one will ever no since the ridge runners don't work year round and I've only heard of a ranger out there twice in 6 years of living here. How you decided to break the rules is on you. Chance hanging near a shelter or stealthing are your options as far as I know. I ain't saying if I've ever done either of these.
    NO SNIVELING!
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    Señor Member wisenber's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by SGT Rock View Post
    One reason I love the BMT.
    Amen! Or any other place that doesn't get the equivalent of the population of Chicago visiting every year.

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