GSMNP Hike Suggestions

11:20 p.m. on June 15, 2015 (EDT)
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Will be traveling back from visiting relatives in a week or so and staying in Chattanooga, then heading to Knoxville and Asheville area on the way home. Any suggestions for a Smokies day hike or half day hike that would be suitable for a family? The boys are healthy and run cross country but my wife has some back problems that make rough, rocky trails difficult even with trecking poles. She can handle a decent hike when it's forested and not too rocky. It's been years since I went there as I try to stay away for crowds. I have a trail guide from the mid 80s but I bet things have changed...

6:27 a.m. on June 16, 2015 (EDT)
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How far and how much elevation gain do you think your wife can handle?

10:54 a.m. on June 16, 2015 (EDT)
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hit the grave fields and then if you want more the art loeb trail from the bottom parking lot is pretty level and easy and level check firat that grave fields are open beautiful waterfalls she will love

6:14 p.m. on June 16, 2015 (EDT)
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Thanks John. I will check out the Graveyard hike and know the Art Loeb, although it's been a while. Is the Graveyard pretty crowded in the summer?

Patrick -I was hoping you or one of the other regular posters on the Smokies would see this. Good question...the missus handled an 11 mile loop at Grayson Highlands from Massie Gap up along Pine Mountain then back through Scales along the AT. It was a little longer than she wanted mostly due to the rockiness and climbing on the Wilburn Ridge. She exercises every day so is in good shape. I would say at least 5 miles, but max under 1000 ft elevation as the downhill is what will cause pain in her back (I just contribute to the pain in the neck)...longer miles are possible If the gain is not too bad. Would prefer high elevation trails with views if you can think of any that fit the constraints. Not tied to the GSMNP if there are other options in the area.

10:38 p.m. on June 18, 2015 (EDT)
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FlipNC said:

 I will check out the Graveyard hike and know the Art Loeb, although it's been a while. Is the Graveyard pretty crowded in the summer?

 It's always crowded (but worth the crowd). the art loeb, has the elevation and veiws that your looking for.  the part I suggested is at some where between 4500 and 5000ft I think, the whole way and only has 1 incline that is very easy, so I  don't thing she'll have any problems. It winds along the side of Black Balson Knob and Tennant Mnt. if you want a little more elevation from the upper parking area you can climb fairly easy a few hundred feet to the first outcropping below Black Balsom. (if you lucky and hit it just right you'll be walking in the clouds SPECTACULAR as they drift in and out.) You can also see the Grave Field from above here.  Hope you have a wonderful time where ever you guys go. I LOVE YOUR STATE just plain beautiful.

6:57 a.m. on June 19, 2015 (EDT)
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sorry for the delay just got back to this thread. OK based on your travel routes here are a few thoughts:

 

  • Not in the Park but consider Max Patch grassy bald / AT . http://www.romanticasheville.com/hot_springs_hikes.htm It's less than even a half day's hike up to the bald but it's a really great view. You can drive up to a parking lot on rough gravel roads and only hike about 3/4 mile one way (gaining I think only about 500 or 600 feet) and explore the large open area (which can add miles).  The website directions have an option from I40 and you can reverse the pertinent parts if travel east as you will be coming from Knoxville.
  • Another one to consider is in GSMNP : the Cataloochee Divide Trail starting from Cove Creek Gap, again reached from I40. You can take this trail out to some nice overlooks included the Appalachian Science and learning center / Purchase Knob (the path that connects to Purchase Knob isn't signed or marked but will be on your left as you head out the Cataloochee Divide).
  • If you are willing to brave the traffic to get around Pigeon Forge and Gatlinburg there are countless options starting from within the center of the Park. Charlie's Bunion is a classic and fits the bill as far distance and elevation. If you decide on this one let me know and I can give more details to see the best parts.

Also check out this website for Smokies hikes:

 

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

8:39 p.m. on June 19, 2015 (EDT)
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Thanks guys. Its been a few years but I remember Max Patch from passing through on the AT in the late 80s. I'll probably shoot for that as it is closer to my route than Graveyard and some of the others. May try to do a couple of them if we have time.  Great suggestions...I really appreciate it.

8:22 p.m. on June 28, 2015 (EDT)
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Ended up on Max Patch today with the family. 70s with a nice breeze. Beautiful day for a short hike on our relaxed trip back to NC.


0628151457.jpg
Thanks for all the suggestions folks...added a little scenery to an already special trip being one of our last two before my oldest goes to college in PA and the slightly younger one heads to a science and math boarding school (by his own choice) luckily just an hour from home. Note That Mom may be hanging on to them a little tighter this year...


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8:32 p.m. on June 28, 2015 (EDT)
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Mixed emotions don't know if I should say happy you had great trip or feel for you loosing kids from the nest.

8:41 p.m. on June 28, 2015 (EDT)
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Thanks. There are a lot of mixed emotions on our end too!

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