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Mid-September Smoky Mountain Backpacking Suggestions
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Will Shewell
(Wshewell) - F

Locale: South East USA
Mid-September Smoky Mountain Backpacking Suggestions on 08/31/2011 18:09:57 MDT Print View

Gang - I'm taking a week off work (finally) and going to the Smokies in September for a 3 to 4 day backpacking excursion. It's been well over a decade since I was last in the park so please offer any suggestions for a great 3 or 4 day wander in the woods!

I hoping for good water, at least one night on a spectacular bald, and tons of pics.


Jesse Glover
(hellbillylarry) - F

Locale: southern appalachians
Re: Mid-September Smoky Mountain Backpacking Suggestions on 08/31/2011 19:17:42 MDT Print View

Does it have to be inside the park? The slickrock creek wilderness is great and requires no permits and has no habituated bears. The mountain the Hangover is one of the best this side of the Rockies.

Ryan Smith
(ViolentGreen) - F

Locale: Southeast
Re: Mid-September Smoky Mountain Backpacking Suggestions on 08/31/2011 20:20:46 MDT Print View

I agree with Jesse that the Slickrock/Citico is an awesome area that offers similar features as the Smokies without all the crowds. I usually hike there instead. With that said, the Smokies are so popular for a reason. There's nothing else like them.

Depends on how many miles you want to do. I would start off the trip by going up the Rainbow Falls side of Mt Leconte and then hiking over the Boulevard trail to the AT. From there you have a lot of options. Hopefully we'll have some rain in the next couple weeks so the streams & waterfalls will be rollin'.


Edited by ViolentGreen on 08/31/2011 21:16:25 MDT.

Nate Powell
(powell1nj) - F

Locale: North Carolina
re: on 08/31/2011 20:50:42 MDT Print View

+2 on the Joyce Kilmer/Slickrock Creek area. Not to dissuade from the Smokies at all though. I'm just more familiar with Joyce/Slick Rock. Worth some Googling if nothing else. Either way, have an awesome trip!

Richard Rini
(rarini) - MLife

Locale: Southeast
Cades Cove Area - Loop Triip on 09/01/2011 16:09:36 MDT Print View

This is more of a three day two night trip. Start in the Cades Cove parking area and take Abrams Falls Trail where you will have to ford a small/medium size stream/river to pick up Hatcher Mtn Trl. The stream crossing can be as low as below the knee (I'm 5'10") to as high as waist level.

Your first night will be at camp site 14 at about 2000 elv. The next day continue on Hatcher Mtn Trl toward camp site 13 at 4700 elv. (it's a pretty good climb). That puts you at Gregory's Bald. It's a nice camp site plenty of level ground.

The following day depart on Gregory Ridge Trl for the decent and back to your vehicle at Cades Cove. I beleive the whole trip ends up being about 25 miles. Not sure if it places you in the back country long enough but it's a very nice 2 night trip.

My wife and I did this in November and the stream crossing was cold! On the Bald it was freezing! This time of year should be pretty nice. Plus it's a loop trip!

Ryan C
(radio_guy) - MLife

Locale: Alaska
Re: Mid-September Smoky Mountain Backpacking Suggestions on 09/02/2011 13:28:12 MDT Print View

There seems to be more bear activity than I am used to in the Smokies right now. I just got back last night from an overnight trip there. Family dropped me off at Clingman's Dome, I had Silers Bald shelter all to myself that night, and hiked the AT to Russell Field then down to Cades Cove making for a 21 mile day. The water sources were poor to marginal, enough to be useable but not for long if they don't get some decent rain soon. I only saw 12 people on the trail the entire time.

I wanted to do Alum Cave up to LeConte shelter, the Boulevard over to Icewater shelter, and out to Newfound Gap but LeConte is closed due to bear activity. Spence Field and Tricorner Knob are closed too if I remember right.

EDIT: The view from Rocky Top was awesome but very hazy. The Smokies are getting even smokier with all the air pollution; we could hardly see them from Sevierville!

Edited by radio_guy on 09/02/2011 16:08:04 MDT.

Bradford Rogers
(Mocs123) - MLife

Locale: Southeast Tennessee
Re: Mid-September Smoky Mountain Backpacking Suggestions on 09/05/2011 12:11:53 MDT Print View

There really aren’t any balds you can camp on in the park. The closest being Gregory Bald and CS#13 (about 0.3 away). The north side of the park seems to have more reliable water supplies in the high country at least, and has some of the best views in the park from Charlies Bunion and the fire towers at Mt. Cammerer and Mt. Sterling. Here is a four day loop that will give you some great views, high elevation, lower wetter elevations, cascades, creek walks, and diverse forests. If you truly want more bald hiking, then I suggest Roan Highlands, Grayson Highlands, or Shining Rock all outside the park. The park is the best in the world for a lot of things, but balds, IMO isn’t one of them. All three listed above are better in the Southeast.

Day 1:

Park at Big Creek Ranger Station which is easy to access off of I-40 (Exit 451 – Waterville School Road) then hike up the Baxter Creek Trail to Mt Sterling at the Fire Tower at the top for some great views, and then follow the Mt. Sterling Ridge Trail along a flat ridge with views in both directions to the Balsam Mountain Trail and Laurel Fork Shelter. 11.4 Miles

Day 2:

Continue on the Balsam Mountain Trail until it reaches the Beech Gap Trail, which you take down to Round Bottom then back up the other side of the mountain and an intersection with the Hyatt Ridge Trail. Follow the Hyatt Ridge Trail until you reach the Enloe Creek Trail, which you will walk on a bridge over a beautiful section of Raven Fork and then follow Enloe Creek up to Hughes Ridge. Take the Chastain Creek Trail to the Bradley Fork trail, which you will take up to the Cabin Flats Trail and Camp at pristine Campsite #49. 19.9 miles

Day 3:

From CS#49 backtrack 0.6 miles on the Cabin Flats Trail to the Dry Sluice Gap Trail which you follow up to the main ridge and the AT. At this point make a side trip Sobo 0.2 miles on the AT to check out Charlies Bunion and that great view. Then head back Nobo on the AT and head through the sawteeth and great views in this rugged area. You cross several 6000 foot peaks on your way to Tricorner Knob Shelter. 16.1 Miles

Day 4:

From Tricorner Knob continue Nobo on the AT over Mt. Guyot then on to Low Gap and back up to Mt. Cammerer, taking the 1.2 mile round trip side trail to see the stone fire lookout and great views. Get back on the AT and continue Nobo until you reach the Chestnut Branch Trail, which takes you 2.1 miles back to the Ranger Station. 17.1 miles

Bradford Rogers
(Mocs123) - MLife

Locale: Southeast Tennessee
Re: Re: Mid-September Smoky Mountain Backpacking Suggestions on 09/05/2011 12:30:43 MDT Print View

I should also mention that you will need to call the backcountry reservation office at 865-436-1231 to get reservations for all shelters and many campsites. I am sure you know that within the park boundries you must stay at established numbered sites or shelters which have bear cables provided. A free permit is requied for overnight travel in the park. There is a self service permit station at many of the ranger stations in the park, including Big Creek Ranger Station at the parking lot beside the station.