In June my son and I will be starting at Newfound Gap and proceeding North for 2.5 days, then turning right around and coming back. I wish we had the time to keep going, maybe next year.
A few questions:
1. How bad is the parking in the lot at the trail head there?
2. How bad is the crime in that area?
3. Do any of you know of a place that lets you park at their lot (Gatlinburg) and another, possibly the same one, that will ferry you to the trail head?
These features would make my trip so much easier.
Just so I know, it seems you have about 5 days to hike, correct? If this is the case, I could offer a MUCH better solution. But first, to answer your questions:
1. There is generally parking available at Newfound Gap. It is BUSY, but the folks pull in, get out look around, snap a picture or two, get back in the car, and drive on.
2. I would have said "no problem" in the past, but recently there have been a series of incidents at multiple locations in the park. This thread
from Whiteblaze.net points to a recent spree in which over 50 vehicles at multiple points were vandalized over one night. This still makes vandalism VERY unusual, but it seems to be a growing possibility.
3. This brings me to my best advice from the thread's beginning. Contact Curtis Owen at Standing Bear Farm and Hostel
. Call him in the evening; the e-mail does not work. He runs a great little hostel about 2 1/2 miles north of Davenport Gap (the park boundary).
You could park your car there and let him shuttle you to Newfound Gap (which will probably cost $50-60). Then you could spend 5 days hiking north, from one shelter to the next. You'll knock out the northern half of the AT in the Park and have a safe place to park your car and shower on the last day.
OR you could park at Big Creek Ranger Station and save 2-3 miles of walking on your last day. Curtis is only 2 miles from there by road and would shuttle you from there with no problem. Big Creek is much more remote and I don't believe you would have any problems with parking there.
But your trip would be much nicer without having to backtrack, and your vehicle would be safer somewhere besides Newfound Gap.