east tn backcountry camping

2:10 p.m. on August 13, 2012 (EDT)
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my hubby an i are new to this and planing an adventure, we are planing a trip to east tn  to go  camping and are in  need of any and all advise. anything from  gear we will need to trails and  beautiful things to see.

we have both gone car camping before i do  think he has done other types of camping as a kid with his dad, but i would like to make sure i have  enough infor to make sure we are safe and have a good time.  so and infor or tips you can give  we would be thankful for..

2:50 p.m. on August 13, 2012 (EDT)
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Greetings and welcome to Trailspace, IDK1984! 

I am sure some folks here can give you some great feedback. Before offering info and advice, some more info will help us be able to give you the best and most applicable help. Some of those things would be: 

  • What area in the east TN mountains are you looking at backpacking? Do you have a specific spot in mind?
  • How long of a trip are you planning: How many days and miles hiked?
  • What gear do you currently have? (be as specific as you can) 
  • What's your current fitness level and amount of hiking experience?

 Once we have those basics, we can start to give some ideas! 

Cheers, Gonzan

3:06 p.m. on August 13, 2012 (EDT)
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Also are you good in cold and or hot conditions.

3:29 p.m. on August 13, 2012 (EDT)
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http://www.hikinginthesmokys.com/ excellent website to let you know alot of the trails in the smoky mountains national parks. 

4:55 p.m. on August 13, 2012 (EDT)
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we have no specific spot in mind, would prefer some where we dont have to make reservations to

it will be a week long trip maybe more we have a 2 week slot open for this he would prefer to go 70 miles round trip

no gear at all  need ideas on that to. we know the basics we need like tent  pad sleeping bags water purifier of some sort knife and such but ant information on what we should take would be good. 

fitness level well he is in the army and very fit  me im  in decent shape i wouldnt be running any marathons  but i can handle most anything thrown at me. moderate hiking experience i grew up in the  east tn  and he in the mountians of nevada 

cold or hot conditions i do better in cold  and he does better in hot but we picked sept for the weather as well as the views east tn has to  offer

5:15 p.m. on August 13, 2012 (EDT)
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There are hundreds of trails running north from the Cohuttas to Damascus, Virginia.  And then there's the AT and the BMT and the Iron Mountain trail etc.  Or you could divide a trip into mountain ridges or creek valleys, like Roan Mt vs Jacks River or Bald River or a hundred others.

For sheer enjoyment I'd do the Mt Rogers area and Grayson Highlands even tho it's in Virginia.  But you're not too clear on which part of the state you'll be in so it's hard to recommend Big Frog/Little Frog/Cohutta when instead you want to start near Bristol or Johnson City.

I wouldn't bother with the Smokies as they've pretty much ruined any chance of doing spontaneous backpacking there, and next year every night will cost cash money and every backcountry site will require computer registration and reservation.  If you decide which section of East TN you're interested in, let us know and we can be more specific.

6:04 p.m. on August 13, 2012 (EDT)
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"it will be a week long trip maybe more we have a 2 week slot open for this he would prefer to go 70 miles round trip"

Welcome to Trailspace idon'tknow1984!

Just to be clear, are you planning on 70 miles driving - or 70 miles of hiking?

Also just something for you to read in the meantime is a Trailspace article on the basic essentials often called The Ten Essentials , this is a very helpful list of some basic items you will need to acquire.


Most seasoned backpackers recommend buying your gear first (tent, pad, sleeping bag, clothes, food, cooking stuff, flashlight, first aid kit, etc. ) before you start shopping for a backpack (assuming you are backpacking and not just camping beside a vehicle) this way you can then pick the right size & type of backpack to hold your gear.

I hope we can help you guys plan a great trip, so any info you can give us is a big help!

Mike G.

7:01 a.m. on August 14, 2012 (EDT)
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Another book of general reference for hiking, backpacking and everything else is:

Mountaineering: Freedom of the Hills.

If you can't find this at a local bookstore, Amazon can get it to you in a few days. Although the title might be a bit intimidating, the insides cover almost every aspect of being out there doing things you normally are not used to doing.

Besides, it is just a good read. You can browse the chapters and sections and spend time on things that you would like to know more about.

The one thing most new to backpacking are in need of is getting the most out of an aerobic improvement program.  Your large muscles below your belt, your heart and lungs will be responsible for getting you down the trail and back.  If you haven't started a cardio program here is a good one as a starting spot.


Look at the right column under CARDIO for the jog/walk schedule.

Search out other hiking groups in your area as well as other on-line forums such as this.  You can team up with others who have been there before.  They have better lies to tell around a campfire anyway.

Have fun out there, make your kit on your back as lightweight as you can make it, and get well fitted walking shoes/boots.

9:29 a.m. on August 14, 2012 (EDT)
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wow thanks every one for your feed back.  we are not sure what part  to go to yet all we know is we are working on east tn  nc area we could go  farther north  if its worth it. we just want to be able to  relax and have fun not worry about making reservations or pay to set up camp.we are open to different places. 

and 70 miles of hiking we have a few weeks to make this trip it is something the both of us have been wanting to do, and now that  he is  getting out of the army  after 6 yrs and 2 tours it seems like the right time. 

10:56 a.m. on August 14, 2012 (EDT)
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Very Cool, IDK. 
I don't have time right this minute, but I will give some more specific suggestions on gear and places as soon as I get the chance. 

11:21 a.m. on August 14, 2012 (EDT)
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I have to wonder if doing 70 miles with new gear (that you haven't used) is a good idea

11:58 a.m. on August 14, 2012 (EDT)
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gonza thank you  very much. 

ewker  no its not the best idea but we are going to do it. so we would rather have as much input as possible 

3:01 p.m. on August 14, 2012 (EDT)
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I would suggest doing four or five weekend trips before attempting a week long one.  You will find these training hikes will greatly increase the chance of you enjoying your week trip.  Even camping in a different region and conditions will still be a valuable experience.


4:34 p.m. on August 14, 2012 (EDT)
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lol your not the first one to suggest that but we dont have the time for it.  it will be busy as can be till he gets out. we have time for this trip  and we will enjoy it no matter how it goes, for one it will be the first time ni over a year we will have any alone time  together

7:01 a.m. on August 15, 2012 (EDT)
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If you cant take some break in hikes with your new gear, you should at the minimum camp in the back yard. Cook a meal with your stove,set up your tent and sleep in your bag. This could save you some surprises in the woods. What about footwear? I used to spend a lot of time in eastern nc, I love the nantahala area. There are lots of trails in that area. Maybe you guys could do some shorter loops, spend your two weeks with a base camp kinda idea. A few two or three day loops would be fun. The nantahala outdoor center has tons of maps and offers shuttle service. They also have all kinds of lodging from bunkhouses to castles. Its always nice to get a real bed,shower and meal in the middle of a two week hike. Oh yea dont forget to paddle the river.

July 15, 2018
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