The Appalachian Trail

The Appalachain Trail stretches over 2,000 miles from Maine to Georgia. It was first proposed by Benton MacKaye in 1921 as an effort to connect various parks nationally. The 2,175 mile trail crosses 14 states and 6 national parks, including the Great Smoky Mountains, and it is said that to walk the length of the trail would take over five million foot steps.

History Of The Trail

In 1922 the New York Evening Post published an article explaining MacKaye's idea: a trail stretching up the entire east coast that would connect a series of farms and wilderness camps for city dwellers. After more than a decade of work, the Appalachian Trail was completed in 1937. The trail passes through Georgia, North Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia, West Virginia, Maryland, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, New York, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Vermont, New Hampshire, and Maine.

Appalachian Trail & The Smokies

The Great Smoky Mountains National Park claims 71.4 miles of the Appalachian Trail right along the border of Tennessee and North Carolina, including the highest part of the trail just below the summit of Clingmans Dome at 6,643 feet. The best time to venture on this part of the trail is usually between late May and October, as the winter months tend to bring unfavorable snowfall.

AT Through The Smokies

There are plenty of ways to experience the AT in the Great Smoky Mountains without backpacking the entire segment through the park. Try out a number of day hikes to get your boots on the trail. Some of the better options include the Spence/Russell Field loop from Cades Cove, Mount Cammerer a variety of ways, the AT to the Boulevard to Mt. LeConte, and Newfound Gap to Clingmans Dome.

Hiking The Appalachian Trail

Every year more than 2 million people hike part of the trail at least once. Those that dare to complete the entire trail in one season are called thru-hikers, and thousands attempt to thru-hike each year. According to the Appalachian Trail Conservancy, only about one in four complete the entire trek. The journey can take up to 7 months, and it is no easy feat.

Hiking In The Smokies

The Appy Lodge

If you're vacationing in Gatlinburg and are interested in the Appalachian Trail, consider staying at the newly renovated Appy Lodge. The Appy's hallways are lined with photography and history of the trail and its pioneers. Each room is uniquely named after shelters on the trail. Plus, the rooms are gorgeous with hardwood flooring, walk-in showers, and all kinds of Appalachia decor.

The Appy Lodge

For more information on hiking the Appalachian Trail, and getting your backpacking permit for overnight stays, call the Backcountry Office at (865) 436-1297 between the hours of 9:00 a.m. and noon daily. To make reservations for shelter use, call the Backcountry Reservation office at (865) 463-1231 between the hours of 8:00 am to 6:00 pm. Reservations can be made as soon as one month in advance of the first day of your trip.

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