Planning June AT section-hike

8:12 p.m. on November 13, 2013 (EST)
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My boyfriend and I are planning a 3-4 day section-hike from USFS 42 to Neel Gap. We have already completed the 8.8-mile access trail to Springer Mountain from Amicalola Falls State Park and the 0.9 miles down from the summit to the intersection of 42 this past Sept. We are planning to drive down to Neel Gap from Knoxville, park the car there, shuttle to our starting point at USFS 42, and hike back to the car in mid-June. My question is:  judging by our normal mileage (hiking the access trail and other w/ packs on and full) of 1 - 1.5 mph, will we be able to hike the 30.7 miles to Neel Gap at that rate in 3 - 4 days or should we go to Woody Gap 20.1 miles away? I am a fairly experienced hiker and backpacker but I have knee problems (well, my left knee isn't great... I have a metal pin in it holding it together but I still do a ton of physical activity because I've found that it helps with the pain to keep active) so from all you AT-experienced hikers, I need to know about the terrain involved here. Is there a lot of rocks/roots in this area or just what's to be expected or is there a lot of downhill? What am I looking at here? Because I have heard some horror stories about this part of the trail. I would like to get some of the AT knocked out but looking at road access and parking access to the trail, I'm afraid its either 20.1 or the 30.7 miles one or the other unless you guys know of another access that I can park my car at. If so, please enlighten me to it. Thank you in advance for your advice.

9:11 a.m. on November 14, 2013 (EST)
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1,178 forum posts

Welcome to Trailspace Crystal!

In my opinion, this section is difficult, but not overly so. I would say the trail is typical of what you'd find in the southern Appalachians, rock and route wise. This is a very subjective assessment though!

Id invest in a map that shows the elevation profile of the section, so you can get a better feel for the kind of gain and loss you'll be hiking. If you're hiking 1.5 miles per hour, 10 miles a day sounds do-able, and 30 miles in 3 days works out. Ask yourself how many hours a day you'd like to be hiking. I'm up and out early, lunch on the run and walk till after dark. Some of my friends like to build a fire in the morning, have a long lunch and wrap up early. Neither way is best, but both of us have less fun when we attempt to adopt a style not suited to our own constitution. If sticking to a schedule sounds less fun, cut the mileage down.

3:17 p.m. on November 15, 2013 (EST)
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Thank u very much for your advice.

June 23, 2018
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