AT Section hike TN/NC May 2012

6:51 p.m. on December 27, 2011 (EST)
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Howdy everyone out there. I'm in the early planning stages of a 5-7 day hike on a section of the AT somewhere in the NC/TN border area, haven't really nailed it down yet. The time frame will be early-to-mid May, and I'm fairly confident I can make 12-15 miles per day even at a nice leisurely pace, and of course I'll be training a bit (cardio and walking in hiking shoes) and doing a couple of overnighters closer to home to get back in the swing of things. I guess the main reason for taking up y'alls valuable time :) is to ask for any kind of tips/tricks/hints/suggestions for hiking on the AT in the late springtime, and maybe some ideas on a good area or 2 to hike for a week. Here's a quick rundown of the situation:

I'm in fairly good shape. 5'9"/175lbs and I'm outdoors all the time, so the distance won't be the limiting factor. I've already got a lot of the gear (pack, sleeping bag/bedroll, stove/cooking mess, first aid supplies, bearproof containers, water bottles, knives/multitool, etc). I'm looking to keep the pack weight around 35lbs, maybe a bit lighter. Rough terrain isn't an issue, but I would like to avoid climbing up the side of a mountain. I would like to do some self-sustaining fishing on the trip, so maybe a section that goes along a river? Like I said, it's WAY early in the planning stages, and I'm still considering a whole bunch of different ideas/places. But I'd love to hear the feedback, concerns, questions etc. from those of you here who may have been on the AT and have some advice. Cheers!

8:50 a.m. on December 28, 2011 (EST)
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Welcome to the party!

I saw your other thread and second many of the suggestions already put forth.

In my opinion you really can’t go wrong on any section of AT along the TN/NC border. I’m partial to the Smokies, but the shelter situation requires a bit more planning to get permits etc…and be aware that you will be seeing a pretty big crowd of AT thru-hikers during that time wherever you choose.

Five days across the Smokies is about the perfect amount of time to have fun and not have to pull too many long days. I recommend keeping the miles under 15 per day through there to enjoy yourself.

Aside from the Smokies, here are some highlight places to consider routing over as you go North on the AT: Max Patch, Bluff Mountain, Beauty Spot, and all of the Roan Highlands from Iron Mountain Gap to highway 19E.

I would go ahead and get the Through Hikers Companion (at least the $8 PDF download) and use it to plan from. It has the pertinent data points you’ll need.\

You said: “Rough terrain isn't an issue, but I would like to avoid climbing up the side of a mountain.”

There is no mountaineering necessary in the area we’re talking about but you will be gaining and losing elevation every day with some very steep and strenuous sections. You will in fact climb up the side of a mountain almost every day but it’ll be on a trail. :: ))

12:15 p.m. on December 28, 2011 (EST)
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Thanks for the info! I have no problem sharing the trail, just makes for interesting conversation during down time. Gaining and losing elevation is cool with me, just not into face climbing. Ill be sure to get some literature on the area first though, good point. Cheers!

1:17 p.m. on December 28, 2011 (EST)
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Here's are 2 excellent maps of the AT. The second one has maps for a number of large trails.

This is a great one for the GA section. 

If you are hiking in the area of 16E that Patman mentioned this is a good place to park your car. 

Very reasonable and they provide shuttle service.  I don't know how far they will shuttle you.  We only went to Carver's Gap and hiked back. If you had them shuttle you to Iron Mountain Gap you could end your hike there and stay at the hostel (it's nice) or go up scale and stay at the bed and breakfast.

2:29 p.m. on December 28, 2011 (EST)
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Ian on the  Website .They have a list of shuttles. Most hostels in the area have a shuttle service or know someone. I also agree with Patman. You need to spend one night on Max patch and Roan mountain. FWIW great views and great hikers to talk to. I would suggest the download  or purchase the AT guide used. Also purchase one foldout map of the area.Which you can purchase from the ATC website from their store.




6:44 p.m. on December 28, 2011 (EST)
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Wow, thanks for all the info everyone! I didn't really know where to begin as far as maps, shuttles, parking, permits, etc. I guess now I have no excuse to be unprepared! Cheers

11:34 a.m. on January 24, 2012 (EST)
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This is a great map of the GSMNP section of the AT with all of its side trails. Its been a great help to me.

10:47 a.m. on February 16, 2012 (EST)
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Max Patch Bald, The Roan Highlands, and Grayson Highlands are IMO the best parts of the Southern AT. I hear Gregory Bald is amazing as well. The folks at the Mountain Harbor Inn are as sweet as pie and will gladly let you park there and shuttle you to Roan Highlands (my fav section is Carver's Gap to Hwy 19 up and over Hump Mountain). Curtis from Standing Bear Farm/hostel is also awesome! He is located just outside GSMNP and can shuttle you to Max Patch. Good luck and I hope you have a wonderful trip!

12:02 p.m. on February 16, 2012 (EST)
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Welcome to Trailspace Ashleigh!

I did the Carver's Gap to Hwy 19 last summer. Fantastic hike.

Where did you start and end when you hiked Max Patch?

10:39 a.m. on February 17, 2012 (EST)
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Thanks! I have typically started at the Max Patch parking lot and gone up and over the bald and to Lemon Gap (Roaring Fork Shelter) and back to camp on the bald. I am also planning to park at Standing Bear and having Curtis shuttle me to Max Patch and walk back to the car on the AT. Another variation that I have in mind is to go to Bluff Mtn Outfitters in Hot Springs and park there, have them shuttle me to Max Patch, then walk back to Hot Springs also via the AT. Any way that leads me to cross Max Patch is just fine with me :)

10:53 a.m. on February 17, 2012 (EST)
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A big welcome for the Moderators as well, Ashleigh! 

I am sure I am not alone when I say I look forward to seeing the trip report that goes with all those fantastic photos you've been uploading :)

April 19, 2018
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