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The best the east has to offer
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Ike Mouser
(isaac.mouser) - F
The best the east has to offer on 11/04/2010 06:35:59 MDT Print View

I am looking for a place to go this winter. I will have 5.5 days to Hike. I would like a mountainous area within 300-350 miles of central kentucky. I will average probably 12-15 miles a day, i don't like to rush, i make frequent stops to explore. Any recommendations that would be great. I enjoy remote places with a mixuter of high mountains and streams. Becaues of life changes, I only have one time a year to hike, so give me your best trips!

Places I am considering:
**AT-BT Loop(my friend had to quit halfway through last time, as a result i couldn't complete the trek)
**Linville Gorge

Bradford Rogers
(Mocs123) - MLife

Locale: Southeast Tennessee
Re: The best the east has to offer on 11/04/2010 07:45:56 MDT Print View

For the best 12-15mpd, 5.5 day trips the southeast has to offer, I would look at:

Appalachian Trail – GSMNP
Starting: Fontana Dam
Ending: Waterville School Road (Standing Bear Farm Hostel)
Miles : 74.4
Highlights: Shuckstack Fire Tower, Rocky Top, Clingmans Dome, Charlie’s Bunion, Mt Cammerer Fire Lookout

Appalachian Trail – Roan Highlands
Starting: Erwin, TN
Ending: Dennis Cove Road (Kincora Hostel)
Miles: 70.6
Highlights: Beauty Spot, Roan Mountain, Jane Bald, Grassy Bald, Little Hump Mountain/Big Hump Mountain (balds), Jones Falls

Appalachian Trail – Virginia Highlands
Starting: Damascus, VA
Ending: Marion, VA
Miles: 75.3
Highlights: Buzzard Rock, Mt. Rogers, Wilburn Ridge (bald), Wild Ponies in Grayson Highlands

Ike Mouser
(isaac.mouser) - F
Thankyou on 11/04/2010 07:54:12 MDT Print View

Bradford, thanks very much for those recommendations! Can you elaborate as to which if any will need shuttles and where i can find shuttle information for those trails, i have only myself.

Edited by isaac.mouser on 11/04/2010 07:54:52 MDT.

Bradford Rogers
(Mocs123) - MLife

Locale: Southeast Tennessee
Re: Thankyou on 11/04/2010 08:23:19 MDT Print View

All three hikes will require a shuttle.

For the hike through the GSMNP if you are going NOBO I would park at Standing Bear Farm Hostel (~$2 day) and have them shuttle you to Fontana Dam. If you wanted to do it SOBO, you can park at the Fontana Dam Visitors Center and have the Hike Inn (near Fontana) shuttle you to Davenport Gap.

Standing Bear Farm
c/o Curtis and Maria Owen
4255 Green Corner Rd.
Hartford, TN 37753
Tel. - 423-487-0014

The Hike Inn
c/o Jeff and Nancy Hoch
3204 Fontana Road
Fontana Dam, NC 28733
Tel. - 828-479-3677

For the Roan Highlands hike, I recommend parking at Kincora Hostel and have them shuttle you to Erwin and hike north, but if you wanted to go south you could park at Uncle Johnny’s Hostel in Erwin (~$2 day) and have them shuttle you to Dennis Cove.

Kincora Hiker Hostel
c/o Bob Peoples
1278 Dennis Cove Rd
Hampton, TN 37658
Tel. - 423-725-3039 alt 423-725-4409

Uncle Johnny’s Nolichucky Hostel
151 River Road
Erwin, Tennessee 37650
Tel. - 423-735-0548

For the Virginia Highlands hike, you can park in Damascus at the public parking lot near the old mill (across from the post office) and have Mt. Rogers Outfitters shuttle you to where the trail crosses near Marion. There is also a shuttle driver that I have used that has the username “Lonewolf” on that I have used in the past and been very pleased. I don’t know of a shuttle service in Marion if you wanted to go SOBO instead, but there probably is one somewhere.

Mt. Rogers Outfitters
110 W Laurel Ave
Damascus, VA 24236
Tel. - 276-475-5416

I have used all of the above shuttle services in the past multiple times with the exception of Mt. Rogers Outfitters, whom I have never used but heard good things about.

Ike Mouser
(isaac.mouser) - F
bradford on 11/05/2010 08:17:28 MDT Print View

Do you know which topo maps i need for each trip?

Chris W
(simplespirit) - MLife

Locale: .
Re: bradford on 11/05/2010 08:27:02 MDT Print View

IMO, you don't need maps if you're only going to be on the AT.

Craig Burton

Locale: Smoky Mountains
Re: Re: The best the east has to offer on 11/05/2010 08:45:13 MDT Print View

While the AT is probably the best winter option, I'll throw another suggestion out there that will take you in to Linville Gorge and many streambeds. I am not familiar with winter trail conditions along this route, which is why the AT is probably the best option (unless you don't mind climbing over trees).

I did 150 miles on the Mountains-to-Sea Trail from Asheville to Blowing Rock, and if I could trim it down to a 5.5 day / 70-80mi. hike I would do the following on the MST:

Start: Balsam Gap North - Blue Ridge Parkway
End: State Road 181 (will have to road hike to shelter though)
68 miles.

This will start you out with a relatively easy summit of Mt. Mitchell, then take you through the Black Mountains, Linville Gorge, fording of the Linville River, Shortoff Mountain, Table Rock, and Steels Creek.

Go a little past 181 and you'll run in to a world of water in the Upper Creek and Harper Creek systems (you will get wet here). You would probably want to end at one of the following roads:

FR 464 (possibly gated in winter?): 81 miles
Roseboro Road: 84 miles
Beacon Heights - Blue Ridge Parkway: 91 miles

I'm not aware of any commercial shuttles out that way, but I know there are some generous people on Whiteblaze that occasionally shuttle the area. I live about 1 hour east of the ending points, but I would also be willing to shuttle.

If you're interested in the route, check out for maps/route info and/or PM me. I spent A LOT of time between Linville Gorge and the Wilson Creek area this year; but unfortunately I can't provide much winter-specific info since I started exploring the area in the spring. I know Cola (on the board here) gave me some good info and also knows the area very well.

Bradford Rogers
(Mocs123) - MLife

Locale: Southeast Tennessee
Re: bradford on 11/05/2010 09:05:44 MDT Print View

I like the ATC Tennessee/NC map for the Roan Highlands Area and I think it also comes with Trails Illustrated #229 for the GSMNP as that is the official AT map through that area. For the Virginia Highlands I like Trails Illustrated #786, though I don't remember if it take you all the way to Marion or not. The ATC also makes a Southwest Virgina map set that includes that area.

Chris is right though, you don't really need a map on the AT. The only real reason I can think to have one is if you expect bad weather and might need to look at bail out options and routes.

Ike Mouser
(isaac.mouser) - F
Maps on 11/06/2010 11:15:54 MDT Print View

Yea i know the AT is well marked but i am a topo/orienteering freak and i love checking elevations, getting my bearings, planning bug out points, matching the map to the terrain, planning water resupplys, etc.

Ike Mouser
(isaac.mouser) - F
Bradford on 11/06/2010 11:49:14 MDT Print View

I cant choose one, they are all so beautiful. Can you recommend which you think is best/most scenic? Peace

/A .
(biointegra) - MLife

Locale: Puget Sound
Re: Maps on 11/06/2010 23:05:39 MDT Print View

"i am a topo/orienteering freak and i love checking elevations, getting my bearings, planning bug out points, matching the map to the terrain, planning water resupplys, etc."

In that case, I would recommend a solid bushwhack through the Red River Gorge - it is beautiful in wintertime and the snakes are asleep. The crops have all been harvested and there is generally no one around. You could potentially go 5 days without seeing a soul, if you are off trail.

Ike Mouser
(isaac.mouser) - F
Gorge on 11/07/2010 08:49:39 MST Print View

THe gorge is my favorite in the tri state area, however, i've been there 5-6 times. Its amazing, im actually considering it again. Still haven't decided yet. The gorge is like a massive amazing park crammed into a small area. There is so much variety in appearance, its truly special.

Bradford Rogers
(Mocs123) - MLife

Locale: Southeast Tennessee
Re: Gorge on 11/08/2010 08:08:27 MST Print View

If I had to pick one, my choice would be the Roan Highlands hike. Unaka Mountain and Roan Mountain have beautiful spruce-fir summits that are unlike all but a few others in the southeast. Roan Highlands has about 8 miles of the best balds you could ask for, and you get a waterfall to boot. As a bonus, if you go a couple of miles north of Dennis Cove Road you can see the best falls on the AT, Laurel Fork Falls.

Secondly, I would pick Virginia Highlands as the balds there are stunning, more rugged than the ones from Roan Highlands and of course there are the wild ponies.

The AT Smokies traverse is spectacular too, but doesn't have as many of those 360* views that the other two have.

Ike Mouser
(isaac.mouser) - F
SNOW on 11/09/2010 05:16:37 MST Print View

Should i expect snow in the area around the 16th-22nd? Im figuring out my footwear system.

Bradford Rogers
(Mocs123) - MLife

Locale: Southeast Tennessee
Re: SNOW on 11/09/2010 05:28:20 MST Print View

I wouldn't necessarily expect snow, but there could be some. I expect there is 5-10" up there now, but with the warm temps this week, it will likely melt.

Craig Burton

Locale: Smoky Mountains
Re: Re: SNOW on 11/09/2010 06:02:40 MST Print View

Below were the conditions on the AT at Newfound Gap during the early afternoon this past Saturday. A little more snow came later in the afternoon after I left, but it really wasn't too bad up there. I agree that most of it will melt off. There will be some patchy areas, but I wouldn't expect you to have to sink your feet in any snow.

Newfound Gap

Ike Mouser
(isaac.mouser) - F
shorter on 11/09/2010 06:06:54 MST Print View

i would like to shave about 10 miles off the total trip distance. I dont want to rush, i enjoy slowing down and being more Aware of the beauty around me than rushig to make it in time. Can you guys recommend a way to do that? Either 5 in the begining and 5 off the end, or 10 onlff one side. Please also list what i would be missing in each scenario. I will be rushing at 70 miles, 60 sounds about right. I will be doing the Roan highlands trip.

Edited by isaac.mouser on 11/09/2010 06:22:19 MST.

Brad Fisher

Locale: NC/TN/VA Mountains
Re: shorter on 11/09/2010 08:14:33 MST Print View

Brad Rogers gave you some great suggestions and I have hike parts of all of them. All outstanding.

If you are looking for something shorter and possibly a loop I would suggest the following:

Mt Rogers AT/Iron Mtn loop. You have several options for this trip and can change the mileage during the trip if you like.

- Start in either Damascus or Beartree Lake Campground. Both have good parking. Take the AT north to Mt Rogers
- After passing Mt Rogers you continue through wilderness area and grayson highland state park. After crossing VA 603?? you intersect with the IMT.
- The IMT will take you back to Damascus

I'm not sure of the actual mileage, but I did the Beartree/AT/IMT lopp and it was around 40 miles. I'm sure a Damascus start would put you in the 60+ range. You have several options to modify this hike to make it shorter or longer. I think the trail illustrated map for Mt Rogers covers the whole area.

You have plenty of good camping options (tent and shelters) given that over half is in wilderness. You will pass several good reliable water sources and it will be easy to check the rest.


You have options to make this trip shorter or longer.

Bradford Rogers
(Mocs123) - MLife

Locale: Southeast Tennessee
Re: shorter on 11/09/2010 08:49:30 MST Print View

You could also keep your starting point the same and have them shuttle you to Iron Mountain Gap (TN107/NC226) and hike back to Kincora Hostel. This would cut the mileage down to 60.32. The downside is that you would miss Unaka Mountain (though it is very similar to Roan Mountain, which you would see)

Ike Mouser
(isaac.mouser) - F
clarification on 11/09/2010 13:40:09 MST Print View

"I like the ATC Tennessee/NC map for the Roan Highlands Area and I think it also comes with Trails Illustrated #229 for the GSMNP as that is the official AT map through that area."

Are you saying that 229 covers the Roan 70 mile hike or that it covers the GSMNP trip only?

Edited by isaac.mouser on 11/09/2010 14:36:43 MST.