Appalachian Trail

Hiking the Appalachian Trail in the Smokies

The Appalachian Trail crosses into Great Smoky Mountains National Park.  The trail is accessible at Newfound Gap and at Clingmans Dome.  From Newfound Gap, you will access the Appalachian Trail  to Charlies Bunion.  This is a popular day hike.  It is 8 miles round trip.  There is an elevation gain of 980 feet.  At Newfound Gap, Charlies Bunion will pass through a spruce fir forest with spectacular vistas. From Clingmans Dome, you will gain A.T. trail access at the parking area.  Especially relevant is there is a very large parking area at Newfound Gap.

appalachian trail

In conclusion, the Appalachian Trail runs for more than 71 miles through the national park.  The highest point anywhere along the 2180-mile trail is at Clingmans Dome – 6625 feet.  It will usually take 7 days for most people to hike the Smoky Mountains section of the Appalachian Trail.

About the Appalachian Trail

The Appalachian Trail (2,100 miles) was proposed by conservationist Benton MacKaye in 1921. Work on the trail began the following year.  By 1937, the trail was complete. The first person walked its entire length from Georgia to Maine in 1948. Every year, some 100 hikers repeat the feat. Successful hikers include a six-year-old boy, several octogenarians, and a visually impaired man with his guide dog (Blind Courage).  The entire trip will take four to six months.  Especially relevant is that hikers will cross 14 states, 8 national forests, 2 national parks and 15 major rivers. Elevations range from 6,643 feet at Clingmans Dome in the Smokies to near sea level at the Hudson River in New York. Also, the segment within the park follows the Smokies ridgeline 69 miles for nearly the entire length of the park. 

Caution is advised in the backcountry. The park’s backcountry is managed as a natural area where the forces of nature determine trail conditions. Please prepare yourself for swollen streams, bridge washouts, downed trees, and trail erosion – especially between December and May due to the seasonal nature of the trail maintenance program.

Hiking Stories

Summit Post