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Joyce-kilmer/slickrock wilderness, Nantahala National Forest , Cherokee National Forest
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Ike Mouser
(isaac.mouser) - F
Joyce-kilmer/slickrock wilderness, Nantahala National Forest , Cherokee National Forest on 05/04/2010 14:10:39 MDT Print View

Hey guys. Im planning a 4 day 3 night trip. This may be a loop or it may be a shuttle, I don’t know yet. I was considering the smokies, but since I am going in july, I am worried about the crowds. Second I am worried about the smog. They are calling it the “smoggies” now its so bad in summer. That combined with the natural vapor process that gave the area the name “smokies” is making this trip look less and less attractive because of its ability to restrict sight on overlooks.

In the joyce-kilmer I will see peaks at around 5800 feet, I would be losing 700 feet to the smokies w/ Le conte. Anyone who has been to this region please tell me your experiences. This area(joyce..) has 400 year old forests, beautiful water falls and stream crossings, and solitude.

Thoughts? Advice?

Edited by isaac.mouser on 05/04/2010 14:11:54 MDT.

Ike Mouser
(isaac.mouser) - F
im trying to decide on 05/05/2010 10:00:00 MDT Print View

trying to decide between ths place and the smokies:



Views(reuduced by vapor and as much smog as LA)
giant trees

smog-reduced visibilty
Tough hiking
heavily croweded during july(i like solitude)


400 year old forests

high point is 700 feet lower than le conte in the smokies
could get lost, trails are poorly marked

I have both the brown book and the falcon smokies books. The falcon lists trails that are supposedly not croweded year round. ARe there such trails in the smokies or will they all be packed leading up to and following the 4th of july.

Nate Powell
(powell1nj) - F

Locale: North Carolina
NC on 05/05/2010 10:22:38 MDT Print View

I can't say much about GSMNP as I haven't hiked there all that much, but I can tell you that Joyce Kilmer is an amazing area. I used to go there often in 2007 and I never had trouble with poorly marked trails or getting lost. It's a beautiful area with tons of opportunities for different loops. Also look into the Snowbird Backcountry Area which is very close to Joyce Kilmer. The old growth (hemlocks & poplar esp.) is really impressive and swimming holes and killer waterfalls abound. Both of these will definitely be less crowded that GSMNP.

There's one more place that's north east of Asheville (where I lived) which was really great but the name escapes me. I'll be able to go through my old maps this weekend and I'll try and hook you up with that info. as well. With any luck, looking at the old maps will jog my memory and I'd maybe be able to provide some more specific info. on trails and whatnot if you're promises though - it's been a while :)

Hope this helps.

EDIT: Re-read OP

Edited by powell1nj on 05/05/2010 10:25:04 MDT.

Ike Mouser
(isaac.mouser) - F
thanks on 05/05/2010 11:04:23 MDT Print View

Thanks a lot Nathan, it sure does!

Have you been to the slickrock or citico areas? Most people seem to be pushing me in that direction, maintaining that it is the most scenic place in those two national forests(nantahala and cherokee). Also in regard to getting lost, the citico/slickrock seem to be where most people say its easy to get lost, with trails turning into creeks inthe north fork and since they are overgrown and not well used, being easily mislead by side paths to camps/water.

The only downside about the Joyce Kilmer is that you cannot camp there. I may anyway though if I’m pushing heavy mileage and need to. Might stealth it, as you say, its not crowded anyway.

Im wondering if its possible to pass through the joyce as well as the other areas all in one hike. Have no idea yet, my maps haven't arrive yet. BTW, which maps do you recommend?

BTW where is your avatar taken?

Edited by isaac.mouser on 05/05/2010 11:12:41 MDT.

Paul Siegel

Locale: Southern Appalachians
Re: thanks on 05/05/2010 11:36:29 MDT Print View

I've camped in Joyce Kilmer, this was a few years ago of course, I'm not sure whether regulations have changed.

It's a little further west but Shining Rock wilderness is nice, might be a little crowded.

Nate Powell
(powell1nj) - F

Locale: North Carolina
Re: thanks on 05/05/2010 11:56:40 MDT Print View

I think I need to take a look at my maps before I can answer these questions. I think I may be using some names for things that are confusing. If I remember correctly, there is the Joyce Kilmer area that is more of a drive-up attraction with lots of cool old-growth. I'm assuming this is the place you're referring to about the no-camping. It's very cool but, for me at least, it's more of a stop on the way to the trail or on the way home type thing. Maybe spend a couple hours there - it can be pretty busy. The backpacking area I was referring to is, I believe, actually called the Joyce Kilmer-Slickrock Wilderness. You can definitely camp in there and it has all the sweet falls, trails, swimming, views, etc.

Citico Creek Wilderness borders this on the west side. Again, I'll have to check, but I think they're both on the same map. I want to say that you can sort of meander from one wilderness to the next. Like I said, definitely check out the Snowbird Bankcountry area - more of the good stuff.

I haven't had trouble getting lost there but I'm kind of a map nerd (I just really like 'em - not sure why) so I tend to look at them a lot while hiking :) I do remember a few moments where we had to stop and think about things and do some route-finding, but I was never concerned about my safety or anything like that. It's just part of the hike as far as I'm concerned. Bottom line, I certainly wouldn't let that issue keep me from enjoying the area. Having said that, don't be cursing my name if you get turned around out there! :) Just keep an eye on where you're at and I'm sure it'll be mighty fine.

I'll post an update on all this speculation once I can take a look at my maps on Sunday. Hopefully my memory isn't too far off and I won't have to change everything I've said. I'm jealous that you get to hike down there. I absolutely loved the trails in that area. Especially the creeks - rockhopping for hours and maybe best swimming holes I've been to. Wow...long post. Anyway, check for an update Sunday or Monday. My avatar photo was taken in Scotland in March near a place called Strathfillan. The peak is Bein Odhar and we went to the top. It was sweet. Later.

Steven Paris
(saparisor) - M

Locale: Pacific Northwest
Slickrock wilderness on 05/05/2010 13:01:22 MDT Print View

Slickrock Wilderness has a special connection for me. My friend lived in TN and I lived in CO. Our trips were him coming out to CO, as I just couldn't be convinced that it was worth going to TN. Slickrock changed that idea! Hard hiking, thick mud, rododendren "tunnels", lots of times we had to stop and get the compass out and really study the map to find the trail, lots of "the trail goes up that?!?"

We parked just below Cheoah Dam, where the bridge crosses over Lake Cheoah. Then up Slickrock Creek Trail, up to Naked Ground, and back down Hangover Lead. This was 4 nights b/c of a late start and stupidly heavy packs (this was probably 15 years ago or more).

Anyway, from that loop you could easily add more mileage on side trails.

Sorry to ramble.

Ike Mouser
(isaac.mouser) - F
Nathan on 05/09/2010 16:44:52 MDT Print View

Anticipating your response

Scott Lehr
(lehrscott4) - F

Locale: Louisville - KY
Natahala on 05/10/2010 07:11:54 MDT Print View

Im actually headed to the Natahala area this weekend for some long dayhikes. Im actually gonna be more towards the cherohala skyway area. Ive never hiked there but the skyway is a beautiful drive.

Nate Powell
(powell1nj) - F

Locale: North Carolina
Update on 05/10/2010 08:27:26 MDT Print View

So I've got my maps out here. Unfortunately they're not doing much to help me with remembering the exacts routes I've taken. So, I can't do much for specific trail recommendations but I've still got some info. Anyway, the Joyce Kilmer Memorial is what I was referring to as the 'drive-up' day-use type area. There are a lot of cool trails through the old growth there but it's not really a wilderness area - lots of day-trippers. I'd definitely make a stop there though - it's worth seeing. Based on my map, it looks like you CAN connect up with a couple different trails that go into the wilderness area. I would recommend checking all this out on a map for yourself though (I'll post a photo of the map I have below). It looks like both the 'Naked Ground Trail' and 'Jenkins Meadow Trail' could be accessed from that area.

I've hiked both of those trails and they were cool. Jenkins Meadow meets up with the 'Haoe Lead' and takes you to the Haoe Peak (5249). Citico Creek Area is on the same map and does border Joyce Kilmer-Slickrock on the west. You can easily access the Citico Creek side via trails that begin in JK-Slick and vice-versa.

Stratton Bald is cool area that's worth checking out in the southwestern 'corner' of JK-Slick. There really are a lot of opportunities for different loops and plenty of different places to park. Coming from Asheville, we usually parked along the eastern edge of JK-Slick. Either at the trailhead near Rattler Ford Campground (close to the memorial forest area) or at the Big Fat Gap trailhead (quite a bit further northwest). Hopefully these names/places will make more sense when you're looking at a map.

Regarding your concerns about getting lost/route-finding I guess I would just say pay attention. Like I said, I didn't think it was bad but it's very likely that you will have to stop and figure things out a couple of times. If that's not your style you might wanna check out GSMNP. In my opinion though, the area is so nice and the solitude you'll get make it worth it.

Also, I found my map for the Wilson Creek Area. Maybe you've check it out already but I really enjoyed a trip I took there. Really really nice waterfalls. It's in the Pisgah near Mortimer, NC. Good trails and nice opportunities for loops in there as well. I believe both of these maps (along with the Snowbird Backcountry Area, the map for which I can't find) were all purchased at the Forest Service Office in Asheville. However, I lived there before the REI opened up in town so that would probably also be a good place to check for maps. Here are the maps I've used for JK-Slick/Citico and Wilson Creek:

<center>NC Maps</center>

That's what I've got for now Sir. Let me know if there's any more info. you're looking for. Later.

Ike Mouser
(isaac.mouser) - F
thanks on 05/10/2010 09:09:54 MDT Print View

thankyou so much! Gonna try to plan my trip jointly via national map of the area and delorme mapping software.