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Jennifer Lohmann reviewed Nolan’s Creek Trail to Fontana Lake
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarGray StarGray StarSeptember 10, 2020
HikingMuddy

Trail was well maintained until the last little bit. That was muddy and slippery with fallen trees that we had to climb over and under. I was wearing a toddler in a backpack and going under some of the fallen trees had to happen on my knees.

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Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarAugust 27, 2020
Hiking

Difficult, steep hike with only one viewpoint until the top. At the top the views were insane - SO worth the work to get up there. A little longer than expected- clocked it in at 7 miles. I would definitely do this hike again!

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Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarAugust 25, 2020
HikingGreat!
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Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarGray StarGray StarAugust 20, 2020
Hiking
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Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarAugust 17, 2020
HikingGreat!

Getting to the tower is a workout. Very few flat areas (per the usual on the AT). Lots of elevation gain. However, the payoff at the end is well worth the climb to get there. The views from the tower are some of the best in GSMNP, and I’ve done most all of the major summits here. I’m scared of heights, but was able to go slow on the tower and get to the top. The tower is very stable. You really only get the good views if you climb the tower. The trail itself is much less rooty/rocky than the AT throughout the rest of the park. Would hands down recommend this hike on a clear day.

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Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarGray StarGray StarAugust 14, 2020
HikingBugs

We loved this hike. But it is 15 miles not 11. The trail was moderately challenging on the way up to the peak. The views of the lake were no more than hints and peeks however. We took the lost cove trail back which was long and included about 25creek and stream crossings. A few views of the lake on this leg were stunning — but they were very rare. The trail follows closely the lost cove creek all the way back and you get to see four old time cars from yesteryear around mile 13-14. We were under the impression the loop was only 11 1/2 miles so the fact that it ended up around 15 was a surprise but not a problem. We packed plenty of water and food. Overall it is a moderate hike as far as the terrain, but the length definitely qualified it “hard.” Saw only two parties the whole day. One man hiking the AT, and a family of three (which included a young boy) camping overnight. The bugs were persistent throughout. We were glad for bug spray.

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Andy Fisher reviewed Gold Mine & Cane Creek Trails
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarGray StarGray StarAugust 9, 2020
Hiking
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Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarAugust 8, 2020
HikingBugs

Amazing hike. I completed this route over 2 days, spending the night at campsite 13. The first day, I hiked on the Twentymile trail up to the AT and stopped for lunch at Shuckstack, which had incredible views. The hike from Shuckstack to the Gregory Ridge trail was possibly my favorite section, with a narrow trail, lots of wildflowers, and lots of berries! The hike then to Gregory Bald was also very nice, and was even more secluded than the AT. Staying at Campsite 13 was the perfect decision, as I was able to watch the sunset and sunrise on the bald, although the campsite is a steep 0.5 miles from the bald. On day 2, I hiked the last section, which was a steady descent for 6 miles. I spotted a mama bear and cub shortly after Parson’s bald, but both ran away almost immediately. There are a decent amount of bugs along the route (I got stung by 2 bees), so be prepared for them, and be prepared for lots of mud. Overall an amazing hike that I would do again

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Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarGray StarGray StarGray StarGray StarAugust 1, 2020
Hiking
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Leslie Malland reviewed Gold Mine & Cane Creek Trails
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarGray StarGray StarGray StarGray StarJuly 28, 2020
HikingBugs

I just did the Gold Mine to Cane Creek, then back. It was fine, but nothing special. We heard a bear about halfway along the trail.

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Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarJuly 22, 2020

Beautiful view! Beware of lots of bees at the top.

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Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarJuly 22, 2020
Backpacking

Me and my teenage boys just completed this; was my second son's first backpacking trip and I haven't been backpacking in 14 years. Was pretty tough for our experience level, but took 5 days and was well worth it. Some of the uphill/downhills were brutal. We went northbound.

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Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarJuly 20, 2020
Hiking

Great trail! I left the Fontana dam parking lot at 900 and reached the tower at 1100, I took my time and enjoyed the climb! The view from the tower was amazing! The trail to the tower is not marked. When you reach the first fork in the AT take a right and this little side trail will take you up to the tower ( this is before the intersection of lost cove trail)

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Jeff Powrie reviewed Twentymile Loop Trail
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarGray StarGray StarJuly 18, 2020
Hiking

This was a decent hike but it was a little hot and buggy in July.

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Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarJuly 16, 2020
Hiking
First to Review

Easy trail that follows an old road and crosses 4 bridges. It ends at Fontana Lake, but there is no place to jump in and swim since the stream ends with a log jam at the lake. Still a fun easy hike for all ages. Watch out for horse droppings.

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Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarGray StarGray StarGray StarGray StarJuly 16, 2020
HikingBugsWashed out
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Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarJuly 16, 2020
Hiking

I cannot express enough how disastrously we underestimated this trail. Given how badly we got crushed, my friend and I have decided that it is our obligation to provide candid warning about the challenges of this trail. Don't get me wrong, we had a great time, but this was definitely a type 2 fun activity. We had plans to do Fontana Dam to Deep Creek, about 55 miles in 4 days. We both figured it would be fairly hard, but doable. We're both in our mid/late-20's and have backpacked extensively. We figured "well, we've both hiked at 14,000+ foot altitudes and spent weeks on the AT and other trails in the past, how hard could a bunch of 4,000-6,000 foot hills and knobs be?" Turns out, pretty #$&!^#%&! hard. First off, Fontana dam is at like 1,800 feet, so in your first three miles you're doing 2,000 feet straight up just to get to ridgeline, with another 1,000 feet over the next three miles. It's a slog. By the time we got to Birch Spring Gap we were spent, with another eight miles still to go in the day. We had already sweat out our entire body weight at least twice over (turns out the Smokies are a temperate rainforest with consistently high humidity, who knew?) and our legs were jello. But the fun didn't stop there, the entire trail is up-and-down. It never ends. Even at ridgeline. And the most dispiriting part is that there are no views because you're entirely below treeline. Its a never ending cycle of steep climbs and slippery descents with no payoff. Anyway, I digress. So, we do another 4 miles to Mollies Ridge and we collapse. We're running out of daylight and we just physically can't go any further (sidenote, we started hiking at 7:00AM). At this point we realize our plan for 55 miles in 4 days is more or less shot and from here we call up our shuttle and tell him we'll need a bailout from Clingmans (one good thing about this section is there was frequent cell service). At this point I think its worth mentioning that there aren't many latrines on the trail. I'm used to the northern section of the trail where more or less every shelter has a latrine. Not so in the Smokies. It was at Molly's ridge we discovered that the "toilet area" was more or less a field of human excrement. This was the case at most of the other sections on the trail. Needless to say, this trail quirk was not our favorite part of the Smokies. So moving on, day 2 starts a lot better. Its pleasant, there are meadows and some flats, you know, hiking. But then it all falls apart at Rockytop. The way up actually isn't so bad, and its one of two spots on the entire section with views. We liked Rockytop, until we had to go down. Oi. Vey. Its 4 miles of straight billygoating on slick rocks, way, way, way down, then up, then down, then up, and so on. Personally, I don't love heights. This section was also not one of my favorites. We stumbled into Derricks Knob completely out of water (3+ litres each, gone), shells of the pre-trail selves that started the trail at Fontana less than 2 days before. We split day 3 in two because our ride couldn't get us till the morning of day 4. Honestly, this section of the trail wasn't so bad. Its essentially the same as the other days, just a little less extreme. I'd actually say though that Clingman's dome was sort of underwhelming compared to Rocky Top and some of the glimpses you get through the trees on the summit to Clingman's, especially given how crowded it gets with all the people driving in. Anyway, some other things I missed. There are a lot of bears. I came within inches of stepping on a baby copperhead which would have been a real bummer. Water is fairly scarce and unreliable. There are a ton of bees. Thunderstorms are fast and frequent. We were lucky enough not to get trapped in any, but that would have been a real bummer. So yeah, 5/5 hike, great time. Would never, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever do again

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Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarGray StarGray StarJuly 14, 2020
Hiking

I think this lied a bit on how long of a trail it was. Not really sure since my fitbit said that it was 3.5miles up but this app said 5.2 miles up. The views from the fire tower were completely worth it but it was a bit sketchy getting up there. Saw a fox, bear, & deer on the trail. ***Service Dogs Only****

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Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarJuly 8, 2020
Hiking

Great trail! Very steep on the first 1/3 of the trail and then it finally cuts you some slack. Be prepared to work. They payoff is big when you get to the tower. 360 degree views over the Great Smoky Mountains. We were passed by an AT thru hiker that had been on the trial for 14 days. When he commented about the steepness of the trail, I felt better about feel winded. I loved this hike but might not do it again tomorrow.

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Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarJune 28, 2020
Backpacking

Great trail with a lot to offer. If you are not familiar with gsmnp a lot of the longer trails have a lot of elevation change. Can be challenging for newer hikers. Just plan accordingly for the up hill stretches. Gregory’s bald has truly beautiful views. I would recommend staying at site 113 easy way to catch an amazing sunrise and sun set in a 1 night trip.

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Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarGray StarGray StarJune 23, 2020
Hiking

Took my 8 & 9 year olds with me. We planned to stay at #91 but it rained heavily at the end of our first day in lakeshore trail and the creek was too high to cross so we backtracked and stayed at #90 near the lake. Kids enjoyed it and we dried out a little. That made day two a little longer as we headed toward the AT on Lost Cove. Beautiful trail with waterfalls and water crossings that were “wet” but manageable. Kids enjoyed this until the steep stuff started. Very difficult and steep for the kids but they were troopers and made it all the way to Birch Springs where we had a nice spot (although not level and slipped down our tent all night). Although I reserved a space I am certain that others camped there without a permit. If it had been full I’m not sure what we would have done, the kids wouldn’t have made it to another site after the day of hiking we’d had. Hiked to shuckstack fire tower in the morning (worth every minute!) and then down the trail back to Fontana dam. Long journey and kids were happy to be in the car at the end! All in all we hiked about 17 miles and ascended over 3000 feet.

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Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarGray StarGray StarJune 20, 2020
Hiking

This was a check the box hike for me. It did have an unexpected old Cemetery which was cool.

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Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarJune 2, 2020
Hiking

Did this loop counterclockwise, camping at sites 93 and 13. Campsite 93 has one really nice spot right along the creek. Twentymile trail is a slog up a wide “road” like trail, but fortunately you’re not on it very long. I took a quick side trip down to the Shuckstack Firetower, and it was stunning. Such a unique and cool place. The AT was in great condition even with the recent trail closures, however once I turned off onto Gregory Bald Trail, I did have to deal with some heavier overgrowth. Nothing crazy, and frankly I enjoyed the wild and more isolated section of trail. Gregory Bald is truly amazing. Absolutely worth the climb getting up there, breathtaking area. I set up camp a half mile from the bald (#13) and went back up to enjoy the sunset. The sunset was beautiful, but the way the landscape is laid out I’d imagine the sunrise would be quite incredible. I did notice two separate “stealth” camping spots in the area that are extremely tempting, but be safe and protect this remarkable location. Coming down Wolf Ridge was very peaceful, a wonderful decline after a day of strenuous climbing. Overall a wonderful trip with the obvious highlights being the bald and the tower.

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Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarJune 1, 2020
Hiking

Did this hike in reverse of what is recommend on a three day trip staying at campsite #91 for two nights. Heading up the mountain towards shuck stack it is quite the vertical hike, which is well worth it for the views from the top. Having a free day we hiked back up to shuck stack to go up the lookout tower. Being at the top of the tower for sunset was my favorite part of the trip. The leg by the water is in stark contrast to its ladder. This hike is more or less flat with over 20 creek crossings with varying depths. It was my first backpacking trip so it is not t be feared by anyone with little to no experience, however at the tops of mountains it can be hard to find water so would keep that in mind if planning to camp at shuck stack.

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Brannan Croft reviewed Gold Mine & Cane Creek Trails
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarGray StarGray StarGray StarGray StarMay 25, 2020
HikingBlowdownBugsMuddy

Started on Goldmine to Cooper Road down to Abrams Creek Campground. Played in the creek. Then back. Playing in the creek was really refreshing.

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Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarMay 20, 2020
HikingBlowdown

Amazing trip. Ended up at 39 miles from the trailhead to the tunnel. Only saw 2 other hikers

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