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By far the best trail for scenery I have been on yet. I highly recommend it. The creek crossing can get a little hairy when the water is up but the experience is totally worth it.

Absolutely incredible. The scenery along the Appalachian Trail is stunning. Highly recommend!

One of my fav trails in the smokies. Goes from hardwood forest to spruce fir in less than 1.5 hours of hiking

backpacking
2 months ago

Lodestar has this hike well reviewed. I just got back, my partner and I lost the trail several times due to lack of blazes. no one on here mentioned that all the trails in the area are terribly marked with blue blazes so you can only trust the blazes to an extent. you need some serious navigation or time to complete this trail now compared to reviews done two years ago. seriously wish I listened to Lodestars review I probably wouldn't be in pain now. would hike again for the view.

I am so glad I picked this trail. We started from Backcountry Info Booth, right near Standing Indian Campground.

We started counter-clockwise on the Kimsey Creek Trail from the Campground and hiked about 5 miles until we reached Standing Indian shelter, where we camped for the first night.

Day 2 we walked around 15 miles northbound on the AT. When you reach the junction to get on the AT at the end of Kimsey Creek, make sure you go North, which will be to your left (this happens before Standing Indian Campground). We hiked all the way until the summit of Albert Mountain and camped at the top. The best parts of the trail are immediately before you begin the ascent to Albert Mountain and the views here. I would also recommend staying at Carter Gap shelter if you’re looking to shorten the mileage / day. We stopped here for lunch around 4:00 pm after leaving Standing Indian Shelter at 11:00 am.

Day 3 was very quick, purely downhill 5 mile finish back to our car. Nothing too remarkable.

Overall, some inclines that are challenging, but the two newbies with me never felt really exhausted. I would recommend going clockwise if you want to avoid a very steep climb over rocks up to Albert, but those with some experience I do endorse the counter-clockwise route.

Great weekend!

Great spots to let kids play and loved the waterfall!

Nice walk, lots of nature.

This is a great 3-day hike that you can do as a loop from the Standing Indian Campground. We enjoyed hiking North to South, starting from Standing Indian, going up the Long Branch Trail to the AT, then turning right and hiking until the Kimsey Creek Trail, then back to the campground.

We camped the first night at Long Branch Shelter (great water source, new shelter and picnic table), and the second night at the Beech Creek tenting area. We loved both spots. This hike isn't super strenuous, goes through pretty canopy and has some pretty vistas, especially at the top of Albert Mountain from the firetower. We carried a bear canister and had no problems.

I didn't love the Kimsey Creek trail - it's very wet and slippery, with a lot of fallen trees crossing the trail. Otherwise, the rest of the hike was wonderful, with well maintained trails.

Rode a 14.2 mile route option. Roughly 6 mile climb to summit and alternating downhills and some climbs for the return. Beautiful creeks and falls along 224A and 77A trails.

Very solid and well maintained trail. I'd recommend using Guthook's Guide as well as AllTrails app since you are walking the AT for most of this loop. It'll help with planning your water stops. Finished the trail in 2 days, but I'd recommend 3 if you want to have a more casual time. The shelters and sites are spaced pretty well if you'd rather average 8-9 miles a day.

I headed counter-clockwise down the Kimsey Creek trail first. It was bit overgrown and there were several blowdowns for the first half mile or so, but as long as you are paying attention you shouldn't have any issues. This portion follows and cuts across streams almost constantly so you will have no problem with water. I'd suggest filling up before heading up to Standing Indian mountain though, just in case.

After Carter Gap shelter, it's pretty much smooth sailing until a couple miles before the Long Branch junction. On my trip, there was a massive blowdown fully blocking the trail. I climbed over the tree, but I would 100% recommend that you try to squeeze under it or maybe hike up the mountain a bit to walk around it. It had rained earlier that day and everything was slippery.

If you are heading NOBO, the hike up Albert Mountain is pretty intense. It's half stairs, half rock climbing. There is a bypass you can use which follows a forestry service road for a bit and reconnects on the other side. It took me roughly 30 mins to climb the 0.3 mi from the base to the fire tower. I hiked this part after it rained, and the rocks were pretty slippery. You can always do the bypass then just hike SOBO up to the tower.

hiking
4 months ago

This is helpful.
I can do 23.1 miles.
I am waiting to hear back from some of the tough hikers to join.
I am still studying about more trails in the Smoky Mountains especially the ones that you would go down the Mountain-to-See trail. The Mingus Creek trail loop could be a good start, too.

This place rocks. Fun to play / picnic by the creek at the main parking lot... or hike up in the hills. Super fun!

hiking
5 months ago

Great trail! Easily done with my three dogs, fantastic views and waterfalls.

backpacking
6 months ago

Until a proper maintenance crew decides to work on the trail past the first 5 miles from the trail head, one had better prepare for one heck of a disappointment.

To begin with, every trail in the area is blazed the same color. For some reason, the crew doesn't understand that a trail more than 12 miles "should" be blazed white while spurs and intersecting trails "should" be a different color. Also, there are blazes where is's painfully obvious there is a trail but at the "balds" (which aren't) and the gaps, where the briars are head high and the trail so faint it's difficult to navigate, there are no blazes. Nada. None. There are more "Bear Sanctuary" placards than trail blazes.

Water. Bring more than you think you'll need. Then bring twice that. The water sources are few and far between. Remember, you're at the top of a ridge. To get to any water it's hundreds (more than 200) meters to a POSSIBLE water source which is downhill (way down hill) from the trail. The "map" Alltrails offers doesn't mark any of them and the "reviews" posted below are less than helpful. Seriously... bring more water than you think you'll need.

I'm not going to bother with the issue of the elevation gain and loss... it's a ridge run... it's expected (and one of the main reasons I went this week). However... due to the remoteness of the trail; IF/WHEN there is a medical emergency, lost/overdue hiker, etc you will be stuck in place with no help for over 24 hours. Or more. My hiking partner and I are both search and rescue technicians and know our jobs well. I may know what I'm talking about here.

Other hazards include wild hogs (we had a passel of them "interact" with us out around Signal Knob), trail along the sides of hills that are overgrown and not well cut (one slip in the rain and there's a strong possibility of a serious fall or an ankle injury, massive fallen trees blocking the trail and did I mention the lack of proper blazes?

Really.... unless you are a serious back-country backpacker with extremely strong navigation skills, stay off this trail. Oh, and find a better map than the one here. The actual Rim Trail leaves/reaches the ridge west of Shortoff but keep in mind that all the elevation it took you 2 days to gain is lost in less than half a day.

I give this trail 5 stars not for it's beauty but for it's difficulty. Some of the other reviewers never ran this ridge, they stayed in the valley along the river.

Very beautiful hiking. Intense but worth the work. Do yourself a favor, and only bring one package of Chana Masala. Double check the map, because when you’re tired, you go the wrong way... twice.

Just did this hike for a 3day trip. We parked at standing Indian campground for $2 per day. Day 1 we went about 12 Miles south/clockwise and camped at carter gap. There were plenty of tent sites and fire rings there but it was crowded. So don’t expect privacy here. Day 2 we went about 9.5 Miles and camped at deep gap. Several spots here as well, but is right off of a road. We found a private site close to the creek and there was only one other group camping in the area. Someone had recently cut down a tree and chopped up firewood so that was convenient. Day 3 we hiked the kimsey creek trail (3.7 Miles) back to our car. You will cross and walk through creeks and streams the entire time your on this section and there were a lot of downed trees. It was rated as easiest, but definitely was not that. It was a good trail overall though. The whole hike was great.

Great hike. I did this hike in 13hrs over a 2 day period. The first half was not bad, more of a walk through the woods feel. Second half was a little more of a challenge. Took me an extra hour for the second half of the trail due to the climbs.

horseback riding
8 months ago

We thoughly enjoyed our ride this past weekend. I would have given it 5 stars but the trails were not very well maintained. There were several places the men in our group, thankfully they were well prepared, had to clear trees from the trails. There were lots of Laurel thickets that the trail went through, we had to bend over and get off in places, but it was with it. The sites were beautiful up top. Coming down there was several places to water the horses. Camping at Bristol Fields Horse Camp was very nice. I enjoyed hearing Fires Creek all night, made for good sleeping.

Fantastic trail. The river crossings were cold but great. There’s still a lot of downed trees from the fire, but moved as many as we could. The turn off from jacks river was hard to spot because of a downed tree and the sharp ascent, but we thoroughly enjoyed this trail. I think the whole loop is closer to 18 miles, but not certain. There’s also very little water on the ridge trails, so take advantage on the river and get what you’ll need.

Challenging. Took rough ridge to jacks to rice camp to cowpen. Can camp before upper falls river crossing and after lower falls crossing. Yellow sign marks no camp zone. A lot of burn damage/downed trees. There is some water on cowpen, at the stream shown before cowpen connects with hickory ridge, but it’s a steep scramble down to collect.

backpacking
9 months ago

Do not do the route listed by all trails!!!!!!! Do the loop from hickory ridge around to rough ridge. If you try to take horseshoe bend the trail just ends half mile before jacks river. I ended up bushwhacking down a 50 degree slope to get down to the river to my campsite. The forest fire really messed this area up. No cell service anywhere. Trekking poles are a must if you are backpacking. The forest rangers will not do anything for you. They are useless. No good water on all of the east cowpen side. Plus half of east cowpen trail is a dirt road. I was disappointed. Jacks river was beautiful. I repeat do not do the loop listed by all trails!!!!!!!!! Take hickory ridge to rough ridge loop. It is shorter but way less problems. Plus shorter distances to get to cleaner water. Only cell service is from the three forks trailhead to about 3 miles down the ridge.

This was a great hike, but I recommend three days rather than the two day hike that I did for the loop. Park at the backcountry information center and the trail is easily marked. The Kimsey Creek area is beautiful along the river and plenty of places to stop and enjoy, but be prepared to walk in water, on rocks, and navigate some down trees. It’s slippery and very muddy in areas and your feet could submerge so be prepared. No one else was on that part of the trail, but met many once I got to the parking for the AT. There’s a water stop at the end of the trail and a good place to break before Deep Gap. At this point make sure you are committed to finishing the loop back to Indian Creek, if so continue N on the AT. otherwise take the road to the right or Kimsey trail back to the camp. Also, while it was warm in Kimsey, you’ll definitely want layers for the hike up. The LBT is the most difficult part, a lot of tree debris, but worth the views! It’s a great hike and met some great people.

Fantastic very diverse trail system. Time flies while hiking it. Lots of surprises along the way.

It was a nice trail, went by myself and it took me about 4 days. It is definitely tough though, be prepared for steep inclines

This trail was a perfect loop for my first back packing trip. A friend and I did the loop counterclockwise. We parked at the backcountry info center, which was perfect because it’s exactly where the trail starts and ends. Our first day was a half day, hiking a little over 4 miles.
The 1st day we started around 2:00, hiking down Kimsey creek until joining the AT. We spent the night at Standing Indian Shelter.
The 2nd day we hiked to just past Carter Gap Shelter and set up camp (roughly a 9 mile day). Day 3 was by far the most scenic and had a few good climbs. We finished up on the AT and took the Long Branch Trail back to our car. It ended up being a 11.4 mile day from our campsite back to the car.
Overall, it was a great trip! Good multi day loops are hard to come by and this one is perfect for a weekend or beginner trip. The trail is really well marked, LOTS of water sources, and plenty of spots to camp. You’ll meet a lot of thru hikers and enjoy the beautiful scenery. Be prepared for some work getting up Mt. Albert- but it’s definitely worth the view you earn and a perfect spot for a lunch picnic.

We did this trail in two days. Great hike. They were a few trees down on Kimsey Creek trail, but all were passable. The first day it was overcast and windy, However the following day the sun came out and WOW!! by the time we got to Albert Mtn it was totally clear.

Great trail with excellent views

hiking
Monday, January 01, 2018

Very cool trail. It have many loops and turn around points just In case you don’t want to do the whole trail. Great scenery and sit down areas

Great hike up to the ridge line and back down the next day. Stayed at double springs gap shelter. Lots of springs and river crossings so you need waterproof boots! Stayed just above freezing fortunately.

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Myself along with a friend of mine did this trail over the weekend. Thought we’d give ourselves a challenge. It was nothing but that. 12 inches of snow in most places. I would advise to wait until the snow fades. Great trail, wish we could’ve seen a lot more open views though. Quite a few gorges making it difficult to view some beautiful sights.

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