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beautiful fall colors.

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

Great trail takes about 6 hours with limited stops

Beautiful fall colors

started off on chesnut branch up to cammerer, dropped packs at the spur trail. went down walnut bottom and camped at 37. nice spot, with all the warning I did think a bear was going to eat me but the worst thing to happen was a mouse kept bothering my friend and I. hiked up sterling trail 2 miles but turned around to big creek due to weather change. great trail

backpacking
1 month 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.

Moderately challenging. Firetower at campsite 38 offers some stunning views of Smokey mountain ridges.

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!

2 months ago

it's a tough elevation climb. We camped at 36 and did the whole mountain on our second day. definitely feeling it for the next 2 days. countless stream Crossings, creeks and waterfalls

Great spots to let kids play and loved the waterfall!

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.

Poured rain the whole time were boxed in by clouds. Can only imagine how great this hike would be on a clear day.

Fantastic backpacking loop. Definitely challenging. I went clockwise and hot straight uphill the first day, felt like forever to do 6 miles but I got there mid day. Camped by the watch tower(you need permits to back country camp!!!) and watched the sunrise over the great smoky mountains. Next day was allllll down hill but a much more mild grade. Got to finish it off with a little cliff jumping right near the end-that counts as a shower right?

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.

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

hiking
4 months ago

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

I did this trip in July with my 10 year old daughter who was carrying her own pack for the first time. We did it in 2 nights instead just an overnight. The first night we stayed at 37 after a pretty easy day. The second day was much more strenuous, going up hill for 5 miles. But site 38 is worth it. Beautiful views and sunset from the fire tower. The last day was all down hill back to big creek. I'll always have fond memories of the trip.

backpacking
5 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.

Hiked up the Snake Den trail to the AT. The climb was difficult and it took nearly 3 hours to reach the AT. The first 2.3 mikes were refreshingly easy, the next 2.4 miles easy, but more rocky. The descent down the Low Gap trail was steep, but the trail in great shape (probably it was once a logging road).

It was a good workout. Took 7 hours.

It’s a steep ascent either way. The lower Cramerer trail is longer, I believe. Backcountry camped at spot 35 and then did the rest of the loop to the top the next day. Was a little disappointed that there wasn’t more to see on the way up to the top. A great reward waits for you though!

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.

Great hike out of Cosby Campground. Steady climbing all the way up Snake Den Ridge. Snake Den offered a few subtle views, but no stellar overlooks. It’s all steady down Maddron Bald which is a neat stretch that offers slightly better views. Albright Grove loop featured a lot of old growth and large trees. Gabe’s Mountain trail had some ups and downs but mostly easy hiking. Hen Wallow Falls was much larger than I anticipated, and a great place to have a snack. This is also the most crowded stretch as it is only 2.2 miles from the campground. My suunto ambit clocked the loop at 19.75 miles (including the walking through the campground and an additional 1.4 I added by going all the way up to the AT). Long for a day hike, but a great walk and much less crowded than the hikes in the more popular areas of the park. An early start afforded me the opportunity to spend the first 2 hours and 45 minutes (~7 miles) without seeing anyone.
Bottom line: nothing in this hike is overwhelmingly spectacular, but the climbing, the wide spectrum of vegetation and a waterfall allows this hike to truly embody the Smokies.

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
7 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.

hiking
8 months ago

Good: Primitive and rough trail with very few markers. Many logs, rocks and streams to traverse. Put pole down once and it sunk halfway down. Isolated and saw only one group of three. Climb was strenuous. Woods and terrain were lush and attractive and varied.

Bad: No way the mileage is right at 10.4mi. Hiked southwest side of loop to bald, the halfway point on the map and it was close to 7mi. Realized we would run out of daylight, we sprinted back to what GPS said was 13.5 mi. We didn't want to risk doing other side of loop and run into unknowns delaying us further, so made it an out and back and still ended up an hour in the dark. The view from Bald is meh.

Bottom line: Solid workout on pretty but technical trail. Plan 14mi.

Great Hike. As with all the trails in panthertown valley, take a GPS or a trail map. Portions of the trail (Panthertown Valley Trail) are well-marked, but other parts (Wilderness Falls) is not marked at all. Lots of overgrowth made staying on the trail difficult. Bring water shoes or prepare to cross streams without boots in the rainy Spring and Summer seasons here as water levels are high.

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.

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.

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