Apr 12, 2010 at 10:13 pm #1257646
I am planning a 5 day / 4 night trip in NC/TN from July 7th – 11th and I am having difficulty deciding on an itinerary. I would like to do a section of the AT and stay at highish elevations if possible to be as cool as possible and avoid some of the summer heat. The two sections I've kind of narrowed it down to are:
1. GSMNP Thru: Lemon Gap, NC south to Fontana Dam (93 mi) OR
2. Devil's Fork Gap or Allen Gap north to Roan Mountain (82 or 102 mi)(the decision between Devil's Fork or Allen Gap would probably depend on the kind of shape I'm in right before the hike and if it is easier to get a shuttle to one of the locations)
I've done portions of the AT through GSMNP but never a thru of the AT through park and I've also never been to Roan Highlands. I'm also open to other suggestions if you think there are better sections of the trail to hike for 5 days.
What do you guys think? What section would you do???Apr 13, 2010 at 8:29 pm #1597713
BumpApr 13, 2010 at 9:03 pm #1597732
Brian CampriniBPL Member
@bcampriniLocale: Southern Appalachians
Those are both great hikes as far as the AT in NC/TN go, especially if you've never done them. I love the Smokies, but reserving campsites is a drag–I don't like a fixed itinerary.
Other areas (not on the AT though) would be the Pisgah/Art Loeb Trail/Mountains to Sea Trail area or the Joyce Kilmer/Citico Wilderness. You could string together loops to make logistics easier and both are really beautiful. Plenty of high elevation but with some of the best creeks in the Southeast too IMO.Apr 14, 2010 at 8:16 am #1597868
Brian – thanks for the feedback. Reserving campsites and having a fixed itinerary is definitely a bit of a pain and something I am considering. I've heard great things about the Pisgah/Art Loeb Trail/Mountains to Sea Trail area and the Joyce Kilmer/Citico Wilderness and haven't done many hikes in any of those areas so that's something I need to think about.
One reason I am thinking I want to do an AT hike is at the moment, my wife and I are considering moving at the end of this summer to Switzerland for a couple of years. I don't know where we'll go after that so I might want to try and get in some more time on the AT since this might be one of my last chances to do that for a while. Thanks again for the feedback!Apr 14, 2010 at 4:23 pm #1598065
@windwardLocale: NE Tennessee
Trevor, the Allen Gap to Roan section is lovely. Bit of a grunt from Hughes Gap to the top of Roan, a couple of less severe but still "know it's there" climbs from the Nolichucky up to Curley Maple and up Unaka Mtn, plus a long, steady up to start with, but they're all quite doable.
The whole package might be a bit long unless you're quite fit and determined, though — isn't Allen to Carver's around 85 mi? While there are some lovely views between Allen and Devil Fork gaps, starting at Devil Fork trims about 20 miles.
I might be more tempted to start at Sam's Gap and do the 71+/- mile trip to 19E (do NOT leave your car there!), picking up a nice trip over the famed balds of Roan and still scoring more than 18000' of ascent. That section offers a bit of everything — balds, climbs, rhody tunnels, open forest, ridge walks, views of the Nolichucky, wide panoramas… I like it. You would miss the Shelton gravesite and the cliffs around Whiterocks, though.
Not sure how you're working shuttle, but I think Uncle Johnny's in Erwin will take you to Sam's for around $20, and could pick you up at 19E as well.Apr 14, 2010 at 5:24 pm #1598090
Brad FisherBPL Member
@wufpackfnLocale: NC/TN/VA Mountains
I vote for the Allen to Roan trip. Some amazing sites along the way.
I sent you an email with some trip guides for this section. Not sure if you had them.
Hope you guys have a great time.
BradApr 14, 2010 at 5:32 pm #1598095
@powell1njLocale: North Carolina
I just thought I'd chime in. Sounds like you're set on the AT which is awesome. If you do end up changing your mind I would also definitely recommend the Joyce Kilmer/Citico area. There are some nice balds that make for good camping (Stratton Bald in particular). I used to spend a lot of time there – really cool area and lots of options for loops. Also located right around there is the Snowbird Wilderness (or Snowbird Backcountry Area, can't remember exactly) which is really great as well. Cool campsites and some fine rock-hopping through the streams. Have fun wherever you end up.Apr 14, 2010 at 5:45 pm #1598100
Brian CampriniBPL Member
@bcampriniLocale: Southern Appalachians
Trevor–Switzerland for a couple of years? Oh you really know how to make someone jealous! Two years sounds about right!
Maybe not for this trip, but before you leave the States, you really need to see Joyce Kilmer. It's what I guess the Eastern US looked like before logging. Really amazing old growth. There's a short 1 or 2 mile loop that showcases some of the best if you don't have much time.
Good luck with whatever trip you decide on…it all sounds great.Apr 14, 2010 at 5:48 pm #1598101
@jameslantzLocale: North Georgia
I agree with the others but for a different reason. I hiked from Davenport Gap to Hot Springs March 12-14 & the amount of blowdown & deadfall across the trail was horrible. It seemed more like bushwacking than trail hiking! At that time the trail was cleared only from Garenflo Gap into Hot Springs. Hopefully, the trail volunteers have made more progress since then.
JimApr 14, 2010 at 6:10 pm #1598117
Chris MorganBPL Member
@chrismorganLocale: Southern Oregon
I did almost the same 100 mile section last March. It was great.
I think I did it in just over 5 days, doing longer 20-25ish days in the beginning and then backing off at the end for the more hilly sections.
I'd echo much of what Jeff said. I had Bob Peoples (Kincora Hostel) drop me off at Sams Gap (Rt. 26) then went north to my car at his place which is at Dennis Cove Road. Bob is the head trail maintainer for this section so its great to hear about what he has done. I guess most of the maintenance there is done through a group of chemical engineers who work for Eastman-Kodak. There is also other safe parking at the Dennis Cove road trailhead. The balds north of Roan mountain are worth it, in my opinion, to maybe start a little farther north so you hit a little more scenery. I would at least try to go to Rt 19E, though I too have heard it is not wise to park at 19E.
If you use the shelters, be sure to stay at the Overmountain shelter barn – a very cool place to watch the sunrise/dusk from your sleeping bag. Mountaineer shelter is also a nice place – with a waterfall near by.
View from Overmountain at dusk:
From Hump mountain (north of Roan):
Apr 14, 2010 at 7:48 pm #1598167
obx hikerBPL Member
@obxcolaLocale: Outer Banks of North Carolina
Surrounded by history. It is entirely possible that Yellow Mountain GAp was a Major native American trans-mountain route from Xuala near Morganton to the Walnut Shoals area near Elizabethton and may also have been the route taken over the mountains by De Sota. Then there's the story of the Over Mountain men. http://www.nps.gov/PWR/customcf/apps/maps/showmap.cfm?alphacode=ovvi&parkname=Overmountain%20Victory%20National%20Historic%20Trail
History buffs give "The Road to Guilford Courthouse" by John Buchanan a read. It is a page turner…
What a beautiful stretch of trail!Apr 14, 2010 at 8:10 pm #1598178
Wow. Thanks guys for all the thoughts and advice. I think it's a unanimous decision for the section of trail over Roan Mountain! A lot of great information and other things for me to think about.
@jeff – Thanks for your advice. I've learned it is always great advice to follow!
@brad – Thank you very much for those guides – I didn't have them. Those are pretty awesome and will definitely be very useful!
@chris – It looks like that section just north of Roan Mountain is very worth it. Great pictures! I could only hope for days so clear. I might need to step up my running to cover some miles like you.
@brian and Nathan – I should be able to fit in another couple of weekend hikes so I will definitely make the Joyce Kilmer/Citico area a priority. Our fingers are very crossed for Switzerland. We are both trying to transfer with our companies. Megan has got her offer last week and I've had a couple interviews and I'm hoping for one soon. I'll keep you posted. There would be some awesome hiking there for sure.Apr 15, 2010 at 4:54 am #1598251
@windwardLocale: NE Tennessee
I think you'll enjoy it.
I hadn't read your post thoroughly enough to notice that you were up for serious mileage — smart phones only have so much real estate. If you wanted to up the miles, Chris's suggestion to press on to Denis Cove is bang on, and brings your tally to almost 95 miles. If you're feeling frisky at that stage, head on to Laurel Fork Falls, only a couple of miles more, beautiful and the pool at the bottom's a great (cold) place to soak your feet or swim.
You'd then either backtrack to Denis Cove, hump it over Pond Mtn (a significant but manageable climb) to 321 for a brief swim in Watauga Lake, or take the blue trail bypass to Hampton. It's a short trip from Kincora if Bob Peoples is running your shuttle, or you could probably get Sutton Brown, proprietor of Brown's Store, to do the shuttle for a fee.
The Highland Games are going on at Grandfather Mtn that weekend, but if I'm around on Sunday and you aren't totally wasted from the hike, I could actually be convinced to take you sailing on Watauga for a couple of hours. No guarantees on my schedule for that weekend this far in advance, and never guarantees on wind, but PM me if you want to explore that option.
It's not always like this, of course.
Where in Switzerland? Puts you in some fine country.Apr 16, 2010 at 11:46 am #1598684
Thanks Jeff! I sent you a PM.
Forgot to mention…We'd be moving to Zurich. I actually just received an informal offer today for September 1st. Needless to say, I'm extremely pumped! There's still a couple things that could prevent it from happening – last minute change of mind by a couple of key people and also Switzerland not having any more available work permits. So, we are probably 95% of the way there. I'll definitely be asking for advice on backpacking in the Alps soon :)
Oh btw…great picture. That looks pretty awesome!Jul 21, 2010 at 10:48 pm #1631230
Just wanted to say thanks for the help in deciding on hiking this section and for the trail information and data. I've posted a trip report here:
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