With more than 900 miles of hiking trails, the
Great Smoky Mountain National Park is truly a hikers
paradise. Here, the venerable Appalachian Trail bisects the
park along the North Carolina, Tennessee border. For
more than 70 miles it follows the crest of the Smokies. A
"Thru-hike" of the A.T. may be the best hike to
get a good "feel" for the park. Aside from
the "A.T.", there is a seemingly endless variety
of hikes sure to please even the more seasoned hiker.
Possibly the greatest feature of this steep,
unique mountain range is the enormous variety of plant and
animal life. At more than 550,00 acres, nowhere on earth
has a better preserved example of deciduous (leafy) tree forests.
The most recent inventory shows that the park has 125 species
of trees, 200 species of birds, 60 species of mammals
and a grand total of 1500 species of flowering plants.
There are five different representations of
forests. At 4500 to 6,643 feet you will find Spruce-Fir
Forests, similar to forests found in southern Canada.
At these elevations, 85 inches of annual rainfall is common.
At 4500 feet and above, you may find a Northern Hardwood
Forest, similar to the forests of New England. On sheltered
slopes and coves (valleys) up
to 4500 feet, you can find a Cove Hardwood Forest.
Majestic Hemlock Forests can be found along streams
and exposed, dry ridges. Pine Oak Forests, most common
in the lower elevations of the Southeast, remind you that
you are still in the South. 125,000 acres, or 25%, of the
park are cataloged as Old Growth Forests. One of the more
notable characteristics of these ancient forests, aside from
the presence of huge trees, is the open "airy" feel
of these stands. The trails that feature these primeval
forests are: the Maddron Bald Trail (Albright Grove),
Ramsay Cascades Trail, Baxter Creek Trail, Laurel Falls Trail,
Gregory Ridge Trail and the Fork Ridge Trail.
Each area of the Great Smoky Mountain National
Park has been assigned a name by the park service. Nearly
all of the hikes in the park begin in one of these areas.
Some have campgrounds and other facilities and some just have
a ranger station. Before you head to the Smokies be sure to
check out the backcountry camping link. You can't camp
just anywhere in this nearly pristine park. There are
lots of rules and regulations that are in place to preserve
the natural beauty here. By following these reasonable
regulations you will insure that this beauty will be preserved
for future generations.
and Permit Information
Great Smoky Photo Gallery
Take a photo tour of the Smokies. These
fantastic photos will give you an excellent
overview of what the trails in the Great Smoky Mountain
National Park has to offer.
TO JACKIE LYNN'S GALLERY
The Boogerman Trail
There are few day hikes in the Great Smoky
Park that are also loop hikes. Not only is the Boogerman
Trail a loop, it epitomizes the essence of the Smokies.
GO TO THE BOOGERMAN
A steep hike to the greatest views in
the northern edge of
the park. The fire-tower at the summit is a unique example
of Civilian Conservation Corp ingenuity. Enjoy these
wonderful views from the inside of this stone and wood
TO MT. CAMMERER
This secluded valley is one of the more
remote areas in the Smokies. This, the greatest feature
of Cataloochee has remained unchanged
since the 1800's. Old growth timber, crystal clear creeks,
wildlife and settler's homes are some of the other great
features of this beautiful valley.
The hike to Ramsay Cascades is one of the best waterfall
hikes in the Smokies. The trail
climbs past old growth forest to the highest waterfall
in the park that is accessible by a trail.
GO TO RAMSAY CASCADES
If you have one day to do one hike in the Smokies,
this is it !
Geology, views, history and a mountaintop Hikers resort
are the features of this hike. Spectacular views make
this an all-time favorite. (Day Hike or Overnighter)
TO LE CONTE
A 2 night loop that takes in some of
the best views in the park. Hike through three different
ecosystems as you
change elevation. Lots of bear and wild hog in a remote
section of the Great Smoky Mountain National Park. (1or
2 night Hike)
TO MT. STERLING
This short hike to some great views can
be made by
hikers of all ability levels. The trail begins at the
highest point in the park and leads to one of the two
maintained balds in the Smokies.
TO ANDREWS BALD
One of the greatest ridge-walks in the
east. This 5 mile hike takes you to a rock formation
that is unlike any other. See the back bone of the smokies
on this view filled hike.
TO CHARLES BUNION
A classic Smokies creek hike. The trail
follows Big Creek for 5
miles, taking you past some great waterfalls and swimming
holes. A good hike if you like crystal clear, cool rushing
TO BIG CREEK