Southern Appalachians
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Matt Hall
(canopycamper) - M

Locale: Southeast
Southern Appalachians on 02/16/2011 19:19:40 MST Print View

I am looking to do a 4-5 day hike in the general area of the Smokies in mid-May to early June with my daughter, a rookie backpacker, and my son, a veteran of Philmont. She's graduating from vet school and wants to do a backpacking trip before starting to work in the real world. We probably will shoot for about 10 miles per day. I have considered doing part of the AT but don't want to stay in shelters. Any recommendations?

Bradford Rogers
(Mocs123) - MLife

Locale: Southeast Tennessee
Re: Southern Appalachians on 02/18/2011 15:03:16 MST Print View

What about this?

Day 1: Starting at Cosby front country campground take the Gabes Mountain Trail for 6.6 miles until you reach the intersection with the Maddron Bald Trail. Follow the Maddron Bald Trail for 4.5 miles (and take the 0.7 mile side loop to Albright Grove) until you reach Campsite #29

Total Miles: 11.8
Difficulty:~4
Highlight Rating: B

Highlights: Hen Wallow Falls, Virgin Timber in Albright Grove

Day 2: Continue on the Maddron Bald Trail for 1.6 miles until you reach the Snake Den Ridge Trail, which you will take the additional 0.7 of a mile to the AT. Turn NoBo on the AT for 2.3 miles until you reach the Camel Gap Trail. Follow the Camel Gap Trail downhill for 4.1 miles unitl you reach CS#36

Total Miles: 9.7
Difficulty: ~2
Highlight Rating: C

Highlights: Big Creek

Day 3: From CS#36 take the Swallow Fork Trail four miles up over Mt. Sterling Ridge, when you reach the crest of the ridge, follow Pretty Hollow Gap Trail for four miles down the other side and camp at CS#39

Total Miles: 8
Difficulty:~3
Highlight Rating: C

Highlights: Swallow Fork, Mt Sterling Ridge

Day 4: Starting at CS#39 continue down the Pretty Hollow Gap trail for 0.8 miles until you reach the Little Cataloochee Trail. Follow the Little Cataloochie Trail through the abandoned Little Cataloochee community for 4.1 miles until you reach the Long Bunk Trail witch starts the climb back up Mt Sterling. After 3.6 gently climbing miles on the Long Bunk Trail you intersect the Mt Sterling Trail which you will follow for 1.8 miles back to the main ridge of Mt Sterling. Follow the Mt Sterling Ridge Trail for 0.3 miles until you reach the Mt Sterling Fire tower and CS#38.

Total Miles: 9.8
Difficulty:~4
Highlight Rating: A++

Highlights: Cook Cabin, Little Cataloochee Church & Cemetery, Hannah Cabin, Hannah Cemetery, Mt Sterling Fire Tower
Day 5: From CS#38 head back the way you came on the Mt Sterling Ridge Trail and follow it all the way back to the Swallow Fork Trail that you used a couple of days before. Follow the Swallow Fork Trail back to Big Creek, taking the Low Gap Trail back up and across the AT and back to Cosby Campground.

Total Miles:9.3
Difficulty:~4
Highlight Rating B

Highlights: Mt Sterling, Big Creek

Matt Hall
(canopycamper) - M

Locale: Southeast
Southern Appalachians on 02/18/2011 20:59:59 MST Print View

Thanks Bradford! You did some serious work mapping this out. Do you know where I can find any pictures of this area/trails? What map(s) could I find these trails on?

Bradford Rogers
(Mocs123) - MLife

Locale: Southeast Tennessee
Re: Southern Appalachians on 02/20/2011 19:20:59 MST Print View

The Trails Illustrated Map is #229 but here is a free PDF from the park service that is great for trip planning.

GSMNP Map

You can see pics of the area here:

Cosby-Albright Grove

and here:

Mt Sterling-Cataloochee

Matt Hall
(canopycamper) - M

Locale: Southeast
Southern Appalachians on 02/23/2011 19:32:04 MST Print View

Great photos! Thanks!

I could not get the link to work for the map.

Are the trails well marked? I notice that the route switches from trail to trail, so I just wanted to know if it would be easy to navigate it.

Bradford Rogers
(Mocs123) - MLife

Locale: Southeast Tennessee
Re: Southern Appalachians on 02/23/2011 19:47:45 MST Print View

Try this:

http://www.nps.gov/grsm/planyourvisit/maps.htm

The trails are not marked, but well maintained with signs at every junction. As long as you know what trails you need to take, you will not need a map or compass, you will not lose the trail.

Matt Hall
(canopycamper) - M

Locale: Southeast
Southern Appalachians on 02/24/2011 21:21:34 MST Print View

Got it. Thanks!