it's true that the most crowded section of the Appalachian Trail
is the section that leads to Charles Bunion. Perhaps it's the
views or maybe it's the ease of access. Either way it's well
worth the frequent greetings to other hikers, to make the trip
this busy stretch of the A.T.. Novice hikers enjoy this one way
walk of 6 miles because the trail is well graded and doesn't have
any great elevation changes. Experienced hikers , including AT
Thru Hikers, like this section of the trail because of the stunning
views. I like it for both reasons.
trail begins at the Newfound Gap parking lot, in the heart
of the Great Smoky Mountain National Park. This is a great place
to meet people, and other hikers, from all over the world. This
section of the AT begins to the left of the path to the rest rooms.
For the first mile or so you will see many walkers that wander
from the parking lot. Don't worry they won't go far before they
stretch of the A.T. was built in the Fall of 1932. A crew
of 22 , lead by Sheridan West , completed this section in 31 days.
It was the first development in the park for the public use.
trail is lined with Fraser Fir as it starts a gentle but steady
climb to Mt. Amber. The views to the right of the trail begin
almost immediately. As you execute your easy climb, views of Newfound
Gap road are seen as it cuts through the wilderness of the Great
Smoky Mountain National Park. After a mile of walking, to the
left of the trail, views through the trees reveal landslides on
the mountainside that borders Newfound Gap Rd.. Exposed rock shows
the Anakeesta sandstone that makes up the back bone of the Great
Smoky Mountain National Park.
evidence of wild hogs will become obvious as you hike away from
the parking lot. The hogs are nocturnal, so the chances of seeing
one is remote. They are harmless to the hiker but are very damaging
to the forest. The
turned up earth, sometimes 6 to 8 inches deep, covers hundreds
of acres through out the park. These are ancestors of Russian
Boers that escaped from a private hunting preserve in the early
part of the century. The hogs not only compete for food with other
wildlife, they also wallow in streams fouling the water at its
to Le Conte
2.5 miles of continuous climbing, the junction of the Boulevard
trail is to the left. This is the shortest route to Mt.
LeConte, but not the easiest due to frequent elevation changes.
Shortly after that, as you hike through the spruce - fir forest,
the Ice water Spring shelter comes into view. Be sure to check
out the hikers log that is in the shelter. Many Thru Hikers have
left their mark in this book, including "Two
Step" (Rich White) ,our favorite one ! His entry is on
3-20-99 and demonstrates his positive attitude.
leaving the shelter, you will see a piped spring in the middle
of the trail. This is the original Ice water Spring. Many hikers
drink directly from the spring, not smart ! For the next 1/4 mile
the trail and the spring are part of each other. This is very
interesting experience, hiking in a stream, supplied by Ice water
Spring. Anakeesta sandstone and yellow slate are underfoot making
for a very slippery tread way. At this point you are on the Tennessee
/ North Carolina line.