Explore To Do - Backpack - view hand-curated trail maps and driving directions as well as detailed reviews and photos from hikers, campers and nature lovers like you.

To Do - Backpack Map

Had a great time first 3 day backpacking trip was a challenge but it was worth every second of it all!!

11 days ago

Completed the loop with a buddy and our boys 13 & 15. Epic adventure, this place is the real deal. We started at wolf pit Friday afternoon and made the first river crossing up to the shadow of Short off mountain the first night and set up camp. Got up and made it to Conley cove for the second night. Up and made the crossing at Spence bridge first thing in the morning, this required some doubled up 550 cord and a pulley for our gear and a swim for us. This was at the end of November so it was cold but not undo able. Dried off and made the epic climb to table rock for lunch then over to the chimneys for camp the third night. Had to pack water to this campsite from just under table top. (Water is marked there on most maps) this was the most unbelievable part of this hike. Everywhere you look is absolutely beautiful. Got up and made it to the top of short off mountain for lunch then to the car back at wolf pit by 2:00. If you plan to do this loop, make sure you are prepared and make good decisions and do not take short cuts. We made it without issues but did many hours of preplanning. I will return to do this again, it was amazing and worth the drive and challenging terrain.

gorgeous hike!!! a most see

16 days ago

Backpacked with 2 buddies October 2018. Camped on what I think was black balsam knob. Beautiful scenery. Most of what we read said there was no water which is true once you get above the forest but there are many options for about the first 4-5 miles of the trail through the woods. You might consider not carrying the extra weight until you have to. All in all a great hike. Will go again sometime.

17 days ago

Started the Art Loeb Trail at Davidson River on 11/23/3018 and ended at Daniel Boone on 11/25/2018.

My friend and I completed the trail in 3 days.
- Day 1 (12 miles): The entire 12 miles was in the forest with NO views - at least no views were worth the exhaustion. We passed many great campsites along the way, but we ended up having to camp near a road, because the sun was about to set by the time we reached 12 miles.
- Day 2 (8 miles): The second day consisted of 8 miles of torture with the first lookout view of the trip. We trekked through a variety of terrain and ended at Black Balsam. For about 90% of the day, I questioned why I agreed to go on the backpack. There are periods where you just keep going up, and you think that you can't go any higher, but you make a turn and go up some more.
- Day 3 (11 miles): The third day consisted of a moderate 11 miles. This was the best day - beautiful scenery and relatively easy hike (compared to the first 20 miles). We hiked a variety of terrain, and I enjoyed the majority of the last day. There's about 1 mile of steep, rocky uphill, but other than that the trail is easy/moderate. Watch out for the last 4 miles of downhill - it's "easy" because it's downhill, but it really messes with your knees.

General Tips:
- If you don't care about finishing the entire trail and just want some good views, I would recommend skipping the entire first 20 miles of the Davidson to Daniel Boone route. Instead, make it a 2-day out-and-back backpack by parking at Daniel Boone and hike around 11 miles toward Davidson until you reach the final bald, then turn back. If you want a relaxed 3-day backpack, add in a stop near Cold Mountain the first or second night.
- Have GPS or a map/compass. It gets confusing in the Shining Rock Wilderness.
- Bring trekking poles - especially in fall when there's a probability of ice on the trail. I would have busted my head open and injured myself severely if I hadn't brought my trekking poles.
- Water was abundant between Cold Mountain and Daniel Boone. Other parts of the trail, we had a decent number of water sources due to recent rain, but I could see many of them drying up. Jump on any water source you can and carry enough water to drink/cook for the day.
- It was EXTREMELY windy on Black Balsam the evening we arrived (but no wind the next morning). If it's windy, set up camp before you reach the top, walk down the side-trails from the bald and find a site that blocks more of the wind, or go an extra 1-2 miles to find another campsite.
- Cover up for the Shining Rock Wilderness portion. The trail was pretty overgrown, and I would be extremely concerned about ticks in the warmer months.
Mileage Specific Tips: If you plan to follow my itinerary, the following tips may be useful
- The nearest campsites to mile 12 were around mile 10-11 and 13-14
- The nearest reliable water source to mile 12 was at the shelter at mile 9. Have fun carrying up the water.

19 days ago

This is a great trail with many wilderness campgrounds and good water sources. It is very diverse in the terrain that you hike through with some rugged parts that will challenge you. Many beautiful views along the way. The east end has a number of stream crossings and waterfalls.

24 days ago

Great trail Black Balsam was beautiful this weekend! The plaque for the trail was missing though

1 month ago

Leaving my first review of many....
Second trip back to the gorge for 3 Chicago guys and one mastiff. The first time we set out to do the loop and we were humbled by the gorge very fast and learned a lot from our mistakes. We immediately planned for our return and that’s what I’m going to tell you about right now.
Second trip - Leave Chicago 10/6 - 7am arrive Wolfpit road 10/6 - 8pm. We camped next to car for the night and headed out as early as we possibly could the next day. We started heading west towards the river with our plan to do the entire loop clock wise and end back at our car at wolf pit on Sunday morning. Our first campsite was supposed to be up near cathedral falls right before Spence bridge. We thought we could do 8-10 miles our first day and get near Spence bridge, leaving the rest of the loop for thur-Saturday, but it didn’t happen. We were each carrying 80lbs packs with steaks and booze, 3
Guys and one 150lbs mastiff carrying a 20lbs backpack, we like to eat good. Our pace was much slower than expected. The gorge is no joke, when they say every mile feels like 2 in the gorge they are 100% correct. Heading north along the river is insane with a lot of weight on your back, crazy boulders and trees to hop over every 50 feet. There is literally no flat terrain on this side. You’re going up or down the entire time. We literally aimed for 10 miles our first day and hiked 4. We made it past the first river crossing which was very deep, chest high, built a fire dried off and set up camp at the next campsite. This took all day. Thursday we left camp a bit late. Everybody was exhausted from long drive and the river crossing yesterday. Again we didn’t get as far as we thought we would. The river trail has some
nasty, nasty terrain. We are fit individuals in the gym 6 days a week, and this was a struggle let me tell you. Our packs might have been a bit too heavy but we asked for this. We made it about another 4 miles and set up camp once again near Conley cove. Weather was great the entire trip, but this night it rained, and the rain prevented us from leaving camp the next day (Friday) until about 3pm. Another late start. We got up to spence bridge by night fall and scoped it out, it didn’t look promising, the bridge looked bad ass when it was usable, but it is completely destroyed now. We camped by cathedral falls Friday night, with plans to cross the river first thing in the morning. We found the worst campsite ever. No room for a tent so we all slept under a tarp and got no sleep. We woke up packed up and headed to the river crossing. When we got there it was a problem and we ran into about 8 other people in the same boat on both sides. You have an option to rock jump, which is very, very dangerous. We saw a couple people succeed but not without being saved by their friends, we literally watched people risk their lives to get across. The water level was nasty. This place is absolutely no joke. We helped construct a zip line to send the backpacks across east to west, for 6 hikers, and then we sent a dog across the zip line....We threw our backpacks rock to rock, west to east. Then we swam across. I had to drag my dog by his neck because he was so exhausted and confused. He was dragging me down and It took me three tries to get him across, I was in the freezing water for dam near 10 minutes and I came close to death. Set up a fire, dried off, and didn’t have much energy left in the tank that night. We set up
camp Saturday night 3 miles from table rock with only Sunday left to get back to the car. One day left to hike 12 miles, about as much as we have done in the past 4 days....it was not promising. We acquired a solo hiker Saturday at the crossing who stuck with us Saturday night. His car was parked at table rock and he offered to give us a ride back to wolf pit if we wanted to take the easy way out. Sunday morning we got up and started hiking. We were going to make the decision when we got to his car. We really pushed hard all day, we got to his car about 2pm. We all had very heavy packs and are extremely exhausted at this point. We
made the decision not to get in his car and keep on going and we are glad we did. We figured our trip would be extended one more night because we just didn’t think we could make it all the way to wolf pit. We were out of food and now with limited water stops hiking along the east side south, we were a bit nervous. A couple very generous people in the parking lot gave us an MRE. We said we would hike as far as possible with the sunlight we have left, camp up and finish the rest Monday morning and hit the road....we pushed as hard as possible and started searching for water. Water is limited near the chimneys, and on the east side. There are a couple of hard to reach spots on the map we tried to look for but didn’t need to. Along came another solo hiker who really boosted our confidence. He said he was parked at wolf pit also and he was going back to his car tonight. Afte

This is a pretty cool hike.

GA-ME 3/4/17-7/5/17

We just went got back from what we thought would be a thru hike but weather was about to set in and I am more of a fair weather hiker. Overall the trip was great. We went from Oconee and made it to upper whitewater fall. Called Jim Simpson who was a saint and took us back to our car. Definitely will do this hike again and try to finish it. My hats off to all those people who maintain the trail. Overall it was in good condition

I hiked a similar portion connecting Kimsey Creek to AT to Long Bridge trail. The same is the same once you get on the AT.. fully endorse this hike!

Here is full text:
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!

1 month ago

Wow! What a freaking smoker! Very difficult terrain but worth the views! We went North to South which looks to be much easier that going South to North. A lot of fantastic views once you get to the balds. The balds will be crowded also since there is a parking lot at the base. Definitely have to check this one off your list. And yes, when it says it is one of the more difficult trails, they are not exaggerating!

Just got back from another church hike. Hiked from whitewater falls to Oconee Park. Trails in perfect condition.

great hike for me and a 12 and 10 year old. hit the chimneys and down to the river.

A great weekend trip. We definitely underestimated the number of river crossings. I suggest water shoes or be prepared to stop and take your boots off and put them back on once you cross. The crossings were an inconvenience but they made the trip interesting. I will do this one again.

I did this hike over 3 days with my dog. We started at Mcafee knob and hit tinker cliffs that day and spent the night at Lambert’s Meadow Shelter. We got up early and headed out to the Andy Lane trail to the north mountain. I read the reviews and stocked up on water, and found a waterfall about 2 miles into the north mountain trail. The hike up the north mountain was no joke, it is steep and long! We made it across and spent the night at the Boy Scout campground by the dragons Tooth parking lot that night. Got up early and went up to dragons tooth (dog couldn’t do the last 500 yards due to the iron ladder climb) so we headed back down and picked up the AT back to the McAfee knob parking lot. Great hike, not crowded at all, but it is definitely a hard one!

limited on time I got dropped off at dragons tooth and hiked to McAfee knob parking lot for 10 miles. started the next morning at that parking lot and hiked about 13 -14 miles to andy Layne trailhead. good hike if someone can drive you around. got to hit all three icons. skipped north mountain.

2 months ago

Wow is all I can say. The trail is amazing. The views are amazing. The signage is horrible. You can easily got lost EVEN with a map. We did 12 miles the first day from the Boy Scout camp. It was awesome with amazing views and it was work. The second day following the same blazes we ended up on the mst waaaaaay off course. So off course there was no way to backtrack and regroup we ended up taking to the road and hitchhiking. Luckily I found a couple at devils courthouse and offered them $50 to give me a ride to Davidson river trail head and they said yes. I would have paid $100 lol. Beware even with a map. We had 2. There are so many social trails and other trails that come off it and most are NOT marked.

This trail is a must do. We camped at the unnamed lake below parika lake and then near the junction to Bowen lake. Would rate as strenuous, and there is a lot of exposure on the ridge lines past parika lake. We had wind gusts of probably 60 mph or so. We took our rain flies off our packs, because they were acting like parachutes and sometimes the wind was so strong you had to stop before you could move again. Definitely worth it though. Vertical drop offs on the ridge are more gradual than straight down, so not bad IMHO, and I’m not a heights fan! The views at the peak of 12300 feet or so are absolutely breathtaking.

Great trail!! Having said that, it kicked my tail.

Bike Ride was amazing. We clocked this at 21 miles and took us 5 hours to complete including a few stops along the way for photos. Lots of trees down from last nights wind where we had to lift our bikes. Sections of the trail is also washed out but doable, just keep watch. We went clockwise and we were glad we did, conquered the hardest section first. Id rate this as moderate to difficult.

trail running
2 months ago

My very first marathon. Great event, would do it again.... despite all the rain!!

I’ve backpacked this loop three times and I never get tired of it. Great views from Albert and Standing Indian. If you can be on top of Albert for sunrise, it’s a treat. Then hustle arose d the loop and make Standing Indian for sunset. Sunrise on Standing Indian is good too. There’s a good spring near Standing Indian too. One of my favorite loop hikes. You can do it in two days but take your time and enjoy it over three if you can.

Took Forney Creek down, camp 70 was a great spot! The hike up to sliders bald and mount buckly was difficult but so worth it. The views are amazing. Great 2 days in the smokies!

Made a 3-night, 4-day loop of it.
Day 1 - Left from Clingman's Dome and stayed first night at #68. Pretty steep down with a few water crossings. Two sites to chose from at #68, both decent and right on the river.
Day 2 - Several river crossings, some waist high water and a little worrisome, but overall a beautiful hike. Stayed at #70.
Day 3 - Hiked up Jonas Creek Trail, to Welch Ridge to stay at Silers Bald shelter. Up-hill the whole way and makes for a long hike, but pretty good views the last few miles.
Day 4 - Hiked the AT out back to CD.

My favorite loop in NC so far. A humbling experience, lost the trail a couple of times but it made for quite the adventure. River crossings were a challenge but a lot of fun. A lot of great options for campsites and great views.

Great backpacking trail - Started at Beaver Creek Trailhead, hiked counter-clockwise and added a detour to the Mirror Lake overlook which I highly recommend. Beautiful mountain views! Trail is hard to spot/ non-existent in spots (mostly above tree level) but there are markers along the way. GPS was very helpful for this. Plenty of water available from creeks and runoff streams. Went on Labor Day weekend and only ran into 3 other groups in three days. Amazing find!

3 months ago

Will be booking another trip here soon! I fell in love with this island. It’s not as difficult of a hike as I was expecting. I went at the beginning of September so the bugs were not bad. Trout Bay and west coast beaches were great. I brought a bug net and only used it for a mile. Only experienced awful black flies at the North East beach by Shelter Ridge. Bear poles I found slightly difficult to hang up our stuff. It took both my friend and I to try and get our bags to the top of the pole, luckily some sites have bear boxes. I would bring another strong friend or a bear canister next time. The sites are so secluded and awesome. The views are incredible. We did see bear scat and I was nervous about the bears in the night, but we never saw one. The ferry service is easy and dog friendly! It’s a great trip to do over 3 days, 2 nights, but next time I go I may increase the time there because it’s so awesome.

3 months ago

Absolutely incredible! Started from the Purgatory Trail to the Animas River Trail to Needle Creek Trail. The trails were easy to follow and well marked all the way up to Twin Lakes and on to the top of N. Eolus. The catwalk is obvious trailwise, a little intimidating but shouldn't be something you stop you in your tracks, just take your time. Some route finding on the way to the top to Eolus. I wouldn't even be able to tell you the way my group and I went up.

I have been riding this trail for over 20 years. It is a fast trail with some good jumps and bigger hills to the south and quick rolling hills to the north. We love it!

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