Southeastern Outdoors Backpacking in the Brooks Range
Southeastern Outdoors
Home > Outdoor Activities > Backpacking & Hiking > AT - Smoky Mtn Section
Free Shipping on Orders over $50Web Site Promotion

Appalachian Trail
Great Smoky Mountains Section

Section Rating: Strenuous
Distance: 71 miles
Map of Appalachian Trail (1Mb)
Smoky Mountain Map - Trails

A seventy mile section of the Appalachian Trail crosses through the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, the trail wonders in and out of Tennessee and North Carolina.

Since the Appalachian Trail is fairly remote to most sections of the park you actually won't see a lot of people except for the areas around Clingman's Dome and the section between Newfound Gap and Charlies Bunion, a popular day hike destination.

If you have any questions about this section of the AT please post them in our hiking discussion forum. I have hiked many the these trail miles several times and can probably help.

Most people use take 7 days to hike the Smoky section of the AT. If you don't have that much time this hike can be easily shortened by using Newfound Gap or Clingman's Dome as a mid point. Either of these sections of the AT can be done in 3 or 4 days depending on whether you hike the section between Clingman's and Newfound Gap. Of course since these are all one-way trips you will have to arrange for some sort of transportation at the end of your hike.

Most people sleep in the shelters that are spread out along the Appalachian Trail. One good thing about that is it eliminates the need for a tent. Reservations are required for the Smoky Mountain shelters and can be made by calling (865) 436-1231.

This trip starts at Fontana Dam in the Southwest corner of the park. I will add more descriptions and photos as time allows. There is plenty of parking at the Fontana Dam. To get to the trail walk across the dam and then follow the signs. The following is a list of distances, in miles, elevation, in feet, and brief trail description of each segment. I have included the coordinates for some known points.


Fontana Dam - 0.0
Steep hiking!! Be sure to stop and check out the view from the fire tower which is down a short side trail on the East side of the AT. Fantastic view of Fontana Lake and the surrounding Valley.
Shuckstack - 4.0
BirchSpring Gap Shelter - 5.2
Elevation: 3,680'

shelter is on the West side of AT, small spring close to Shelter

Doe Knob - 7.5
Ekaneetlee Gap - 8.9
Mollies Ridge Shelter - 9.8
Latitude: 35 32.746'N
Longitude: 83 47.616'W
Elevation: 4,570'
Devils Tater Patch - 10.1
Little Abrams Gap - 11.5
Russell Field Shelter - 12.4 Latitude: 35 33.704'N
Longitude: 83 45.996'W
Elevation: 4,360'


Eagle Creek Trail to Spence Field Shelter(4,900'); Bote Mountain Trail - 14.9
Spence Field Shelter -  Latitude: 35 33.707'N
Longitude: 83 43.963'W
Elevation: 4,915'


Rocky Top - 16.1
a great place to take a break or have lunch. Great views of valleys below.
Thunderhead, east peak - 16.7
After reaching Thunderhead peak there is a pretty steep downhill section through mature hardwoods.
Beechnut Gap - 17.0
Mineral Gap - 17.7
Sugar Tree Gap - 20.1
Derrick Knob Shelter - 21.2
Latitude: 35 33.974'N
Longitude: 83 38.514'W
Elevation: 4,890'


Sam's Gap - 21.4
Buckeye Gap - 24.0
Siler's Bald Shelter - 26.7
Latitude: 35 33.851'N
Longitude: 83 34.1'W
Elevation: 5,460'


The next 34 miles of trail of the trail are the highest of the entire Appalachian Trail staying at an altitudes higher than 5,000 feet.
Siler's Bald 26.9
Double Spring Gap Shelter - 28.4
Latitude: 35 33.91'N
Longitude: 83 32.571'W
Elevation: 5,505'


Clingman's Dome  - 31.3
Latitude: N 3533'46"
Longitude: W 8329'56"
Elevation: 6,643'

Highest elevation in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, also the highest elevation on the Appalachian trail and 2nd highest mountain east of the Mississippi river. There is an observation tower open to the public at the top of the mountain.
Clingman's Dome also has a parking lot .6 miles from the peak, so emergency access is available as well as a way to leave the trail if needed. There is also a rest room so this can be a great place to get that much needed real bathroom after the 3 or 4 day trip to this point. Another interesting thing about Clingman's Dome is that this is the western terminus to the Mountain to Sea trail.
Mt. Love - 32.5


Mt. Collins Shelter - 34.7
Latitude: 35 35.623'N
Longitude: 83 28.284'W
Elevation: 5,870'

.5 miles off of AT.


Indian Gap - 37.5


Newfound Gap, US 441 - 39.2
Elevation: 5,046'

this is the only place the AT crosses the road within the park. It is also the easiest place to have extra supplies or to cut the trip in half.

Sweat Heifer Creek Trail 1.7 - Trail intersects on the right, this is Sweat Heifer Creek Trail. Shortly after this intersection you start a short but steep section of trail.
Boulevard Trail 2.7 - Boulevard Trail comes in from the left. This is a popular trail that leads to Mt LeConte. 
Icewater Spring Shelter - 42.2
Latitude: 35 37.78'N
Longitude: 83 23.183'W
Elevation: 5,920'

because it's so close to New Found Gap this is one of the most crowded shelters in the park.

Charlies Bunion - 43.1
offers a great panoramic view from a large rock outcrop. Great lunch/ break area. Nice place for a day hike from Newfound Gap parking area.

Longitude: 35 38.357'N
Latitude: 83 22.307'W
The Sawteeth - 45.0
Great views of both Tennessee and North Carolina with occasional steep drops next to trails edge (watch kids).
Bradley's View - 48.3
Pecks Corner Shelter - 49.6
Latitude: 35 39.044'N
Longitude: 83 18.515'W
Elevation: 5,280'

.5 miles from AT.

Mt. Sequoyah - 52.3
Mt. Chapman - 53.8
Tri-corner Knob Shelter - 54.8
Latitude: 35 41.619'N
Longitude: 83 15.398'W
Elevation: 5,920'


Guyot Spring - 56.6
Mt. Guyot Side Trail - 56.7
Snake Den Ridge Trail - 58.6
Cosby Knob - 62.0
Cosby Knob Shelter - 62.5
Latitude: 35 43.624'N
Longitude: 83 10.931'W
Elevation: 4,700'


Mt. Cammerer Side Trail - 65.3
Latitude: 35 43.624'N
Longitude: 83 10.931'W
Elevation: 4,928
Additional Link

This is a great .5 mile side trip out to a unique Yosemite style octagonal rock and glass fire tower. From the top of this mountain down to the park boundary is steep down hill. You

will go from about 5,000' down to about 2,000'.
Spring - 65.8
Spring - 67.4
Davenport Gap Shelter - 69.6
Latitude: 35 45.803'N
Longitude: 83 9.671'W


Davenport Gap, Tennessee 32, NC 284; eastern boundary, Great Smokey Mountains National Park - 70.5

If you have to park at this end of the park be sure to park at the ranger station. In the past there has been problems with vehicles getting broken into in this area.

Related Links & Resources:
Great Smoky Mountains National Park
Appalachian Trail National Park
Cherokee National Forest
Pisgah National Forest

Backpacking Info
Smoky Mountains
Backpacking Main
National Parks
Buy Camping Gear
Backpacking Forum
Long Trails
Rainbow Falls
Smoky Mountains
Backpack Books
Smoky Day Hikes
Buy First Aid Kit
Sponsor Links
What's This?
Related Links
Buy Camping Gear
Hiking Discussions
National Parks
Rental Cabins
Appalachian Trail Books