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Day trips in GSNP

4:12 p.m. on February 5, 2012 (EST)
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Has anyone done the Porters Creek Trail in the park. Looking for some day hikes. Last year, the wife and I did Alum Cave, Abrams Falls, and Groto Falls trails. We will there in May. Any suggesttions would be great. Thanks for the help.

5:37 p.m. on February 5, 2012 (EST)
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This is a book I picked up.  It is an excellent guide book to day hikes in the Smokies. It is oriented toward children but provides excellent descriptions of the trails, how to get to them and difficulty levels.

Family Hiking in the Smokies: Time Well Spent

9:44 a.m. on February 6, 2012 (EST)
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http://www.hikinginthesmokys.com/difficulty.htm

this is a fantastic website describing the different trails in the park

http://www.hikinginthesmokys.com/porters.htm

for your particular trail.

I personally haven't walked that trail, but just some info for you.

10:03 a.m. on February 6, 2012 (EST)
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1border,

That is a good book that Ocala linked.

Ok, I'm gonna give you some inside scoop:

  • I have done Porters and it is a nice hike. In May there should still be various wildflowers in bloom and those will make it worth the hike alone. That trail officially ends at campsite 31 (a bit anti-climatic after climbing 1500 feet in about 3.5 miles). Although, the trail turns into an unmaintained man-way that becomes a 1-mile 2000 foot gain of a rock scramble the comes out at Dry Sluice Gap on the AT (pretty tough stuff…not recommending that as dayhike)
  • In the same area as Porters you could also choose Ramsey Cascades. It’s about 8 miles round trip (the last two miles are somewhat strenuous). The total climb is about 2100 over the four miles to the falls but the first two are quite easy and well graded. Like Porters if you crave more adventure, there is a little known place called “drinkwater pool” about a quarter mile beyond the official trail ending, but it’s tough to get to (would require some rhodo crawling and bushwhacking). 
  • I highly recommend checking out Albright Grove Loop (an old growth pocket wilderness within the Park; rare to see those giant tulip poplars in the Smokies since so much was logged in the early 20th century). The trees aren’t quite as impressive as the bunch at Joyce Kilmer but well worth the time to go see and the journey there is awesomely beautiful ( in May you may see deer in the area). The grove is accessed by Maddron Bald trail ....as a day hike I would start at Laurel Gap Road off of 321 (can be hard to find since it's a little known Park entrance).
  • Of course starting at Newfound Gap and going to see Charlie’s Bunion is a must in good weather. If you do that, be sure to make time to see "the Jump-off" which is small detour up the Boulevard trail and then it’s own spur trail (actually an old rocky creek bed). Very easy but popular hike to the bunion (in good weather it will be busy)
  • A bigger day hike (12 miles round trip) is Mt. Cammerer fire tower accessed from the Cosby campground. There are excellent views from the tower in good weather. I suggest going up Low Gap to the AT, then the spur trail to the tower. You could come back the same way or loop around the mountain by going north on the AT to the Lower Mt. Cammerer trail.
  • And for a waterfall bonanza, you can’t go wrong driving in from the Townsend entrance taking a right at the Y and then left on to Treemont road, then going to the end of that road (last 2 miles on gravel), and going up Middle Prong trail as far as Greenbrier Ridge Trail; near that junction you will see an unmarked path leading off to your right, follow that to Indian Falls: it’s very cool. 
  • This isn’t in the Park, but while in the area, another really cool place to check out is called “Max Patch” mountain. It’s a grassy bald with stunning views of the area. Many AT thru-hikers consider it to be the their favorite place in the whole AT. It’s actually not much of a hike since you can drive right up to within a half mile of the top to a parking area (albeit on poor gravel and dirt roads) Check out this link:

http://www.hikewnc.info/trailheads/pisgah/appalachian/frenchbroad/harmonden.html

My suggestions are geographically all over the place…I’m sure you know you can spend hours driving around the park, so most of the day hikes I listed will take up the whole day depending on where you area staying.

Hope this helps!

Patrick

April 17, 2014
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