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#171901 - 11/12/12 09:05 PM First Trip/Smoky Mountains
apope1303 Offline
newbie

Registered: 11/12/12
Posts: 3
Hey, first time back country guy here. Me and a buddy are looking to go on a three day trip to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park in May/June. We want to stay in the back country section, but have a few questions. So there are shelters and sites. (Kinda stupid question) What's the difference? I kinda guessed the shelter is obviously....a shelter. So the sites are just a random site with no tampering? We want to actually camp, not the whole nice little lot with picnic tables and cleared out area. Do you have to stay at a designated site? I really just wanna know if these sites are solitary or shared? Also wondering if we could move to different sites as we would be moving through the park? Just in general inquiry what it is like staying at the sites and hiking through the park, tips, etc?


We are packing as light as possible and planning to see as much as we can in the three days. Which we should be able to do since we have both done ruck marches and been in this situation before being in the military.

Thanks in advance for the help. Pretty new to the whole scene so go easy. He'd be coming from his stationed camp in NC and I'd be coming from Western New York.

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#171912 - 11/13/12 11:01 AM Re: First Trip/Smoky Mountains [Re: apope1303]
ETSU Pride Offline
member

Registered: 10/25/10
Posts: 931
Loc: Knoxville, TN
Quote:
So there are shelters and sites. (Kinda stupid question) What's the difference? I kinda guessed the shelter is obviously....a shelter. So the sites are just a random site with no tampering?


Yes. The sites are just a cleared out area for tents and hammocks. The only manmade items there are the bear cable and fire ring. The shelters are just three wall building with very large bunks.

Quote:
Do you have to stay at a designated site? I really just wanna know if these sites are solitary or shared?


Yes, you have to stay at a designated campsite. Far as share and solitary, it depends on size of the designated campsite. For instance, some site can hold 12 people. There could be 12 people there on a giving night or could be just 2 people. I've stayed at a site where it was just me and my buddy and stayed at a site with me, my buddy, and 4 other campers. They weren't sleeping next to us, they were on other side of the large campsite, etc. It really varies, if this make sense? if you cannot see it in your head, you will see when you arrive. keep in mind, some campsite requires reservation and some do not. So, when you get a route plan out make sure the campsite(s) along the way requires reservations, you can make reservation through the park's backcountry office by phone, but I think by time you go you can reserve online. I heard rumor they're implementing a software system to do this...

Quote:
Also wondering if we could move to different sites as we would be moving through the park?


Yes. You cannot stay more than 2 nights at one campsite nor more than 1 night at a giving shelter. I think?

Quote:
Just in general inquiry what it is like staying at the sites and hiking through the park, tips, etc?


It's awesome! It a beautiful park loaded with plants, animals, and tourists. You are required by regulations to hang your pack and food on the bear cable. Every sites has one. There are fire rings, so you are allow to burn in the fire ring. A lot of sites has creeks to refill your water, some has springs but it's mostly the shelters on the AT that has springs. 3 days in the Smokies for your first trip can be difficult depending on the route selections. Which I can assist you with. Oh, and another thing. Currently backpacking in the Smoky is free. When you arrive for your trip, it will cost you and your buddies 4 bucks each per night. Which means it be total of 16 bucks for both of you to camp two nights.. It bites, but that the new rule going in effect starting in 2013. There has been an exponential increase in backpackers in recent years, so the park rangers wants to add more staff for regulations and maintaining sites. Least that their excuse.

Let me know if you got any more specific questions about the Smokies. I have a ton of pictures on here of the Smokies and I think I got some decent pictures of campsites and shelters if you want to see.


Edited by ETSU Pride (11/13/12 11:09 AM)
_________________________
It is one of the blessings of wilderness life that it shows us how few things we need in order to be perfectly happy.-- Horace Kephart

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#171960 - 11/14/12 05:57 PM Re: First Trip/Smoky Mountains [Re: ETSU Pride]
apope1303 Offline
newbie

Registered: 11/12/12
Posts: 3
How does firewood there go? We don't really wanna bring a whole tons of bundles with us. Do they allow you to grab some small kindling or no? Just a small fire for warming up our food at night and in the morning. Clif bars are gonna be the rest of the time.

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#171965 - 11/14/12 09:46 PM Re: First Trip/Smoky Mountains [Re: apope1303]
ETSU Pride Offline
member

Registered: 10/25/10
Posts: 931
Loc: Knoxville, TN
You can't bring firewood into the park. Dead trees and logs are usually plentiful, especially after a spring storm, so use those to make fire. I noticed smaller campsites have more wood than bigger ones. There are fire rings at every backcountry sites, long as you burn in the ring you are golden.


Edited by ETSU Pride (11/14/12 09:47 PM)
_________________________
It is one of the blessings of wilderness life that it shows us how few things we need in order to be perfectly happy.-- Horace Kephart

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#171985 - 11/15/12 02:16 PM Re: First Trip/Smoky Mountains [Re: ETSU Pride]
apope1303 Offline
newbie

Registered: 11/12/12
Posts: 3
Alright sweet. Any where you suggest seeing? Any routes or sites? Right now we plan on doing a horseshoe type route starting from where the AT exits the park and we plan on going to clingmans dome. Is there any really high point where we could really get a good view of the park besides clingmans? Like a good overhang or anything else interesting.


Edited by apope1303 (11/15/12 02:31 PM)

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#172005 - 11/16/12 10:20 AM Re: First Trip/Smoky Mountains [Re: apope1303]
ETSU Pride Offline
member

Registered: 10/25/10
Posts: 931
Loc: Knoxville, TN
Mt. Sterling should be fun. Spend day one hiking Big Creek trail from Big Creek Ranger Station and stay at Walnut Bottom Campsite. Next night you can ascend up to Mt. Sterling and it has a firetower with a panoramic view of the park from that end. However, you're quite a way from Clingman's Dome from this location. Clingman's Dome is in middle of the park, nowhere near where the AT exits from either end of the park. From the southern end, there probably more panoramic views and is closer to Clingman's than northern end where Mt. Sterling is. I cannot remember the numbers of the campsites from southern end, I'll get back to you on that.
_________________________
It is one of the blessings of wilderness life that it shows us how few things we need in order to be perfectly happy.-- Horace Kephart

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#172430 - 11/28/12 04:45 PM Re: First Trip/Smoky Mountains [Re: apope1303]
tfd651 Offline
newbie

Registered: 11/28/12
Posts: 2
Hi smile Enjoy your trip! A friend of mine and I spend two weeks day hiking in the Smokies last summer - the hardest trail we did was Gregory's Bald via Cades Cove but it was also the best! At the top we were treated with Azaleas like you've never seen and while we resting in a small grove of trees in the center of the bald having lunch a doe walked right in and checked out us and the packs - I swore I could have touched her. I would upload pictures to prove it but don't have that right yet. I would definitely recommend your travels bringing you past this area if you hike in early June. grin

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#173432 - 01/03/13 12:22 AM Re: First Trip/Smoky Mountains [Re: apope1303]
FlashPacker Offline
member

Registered: 01/15/11
Posts: 25
Two years ago, my buddy and I did a 3 day trip in the Smoky Mountains called the Maddron Bald Loop. If my memory serves me right, we left from the Cosby Campground in the park. I think the loop was about 18 miles over three days. Quite easy as far as the hiking was concerts. Lots of beautiful creek crossings, a really nice waterfall, amazing woods hiking, and an old growth forest section. The sites we stayed at were both beautiful. There was another family traveling in the same direction at both sites both nights, however, the sites were tiered and secluded so we couldn't see or hear them. The sites are not technically sites like a campground which are number per small group. The sites are more like a dispersed camping area where there are 8 sites within a fair size area. Those 8 sites are all given on site number. The first site was along a gorgeous creek with cascades and ferns everywhere. The second site was on the edge of a ledge. The site was fantastic until night came. The winds swept down of the ledge and shook the tent like I was free falling from a plane. As for the high point, Maddron Bald, the was a bit of a bummer, only because I am pretty short and the weather was not in our favor. The bald was to have the views of the weekend, but I could see over the shrubs. I think anyone over 6' foot would have nice views. I am a summit and views kind of guy, who fell in love with this woods, river, waterfall trip. I would do it again in a second.

If view are your thing, skip Clingmans and do LeConte instead. I day hiked 13 miles to Clingman's summit from the "Road to Nowhere." It was really uneventful the whole hike until the summit.

Mt. LeConte via any option is awesome as is Charlie's Bunion. There are shelters near both.

*One negative to watch out for- do not keep valuables in your car. I didn't have any problem in Crosby, however, every backpackers' car on the "Road to Nowhere" had blow out windows- a real bummer.

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