Mount Cammerer via Low Gap Trail is a 10.7 mile lightly trafficked out and back trail located near Cosby, Tennessee that features a river and is rated as difficult. The trail offers a number of activity options and is accessible year-round. Horses are also able to use this trail.
This hike to Mt. Cammerer begins from the Low Gap Trailhead in the Cosby Campground. Although it's a roundtrip hike of 12 miles, it's still the shortest and most commonly used route to the 4928-foot summit. From the trailhead you'll climb Low Gap Trail for 3 miles before hooking-up with the Appalachian Trail. This is a steep and relentless climb, over several switchbacks, that takes hikers through a beautiful and mature hardwood forest as they proceed up the Cosby Creek valley. Upon reaching the junction, turn left onto the Appalachian Trail to continue hiking towards the Mount Cammerer Trail. Along the early sections of the Appalachian Trail you'll continue climbing, however, the elevation gain isn't quite as steep as the Low Gap Trail. Hikers will cross over a grassy ridge that offers views of the Cosby Valley, Snake Den Ridge and Inadu Knob, as well as several fine places to take a break before turning onto the rugged spur trail that leads to the summit of Mt. Cammerer. This spur is slightly more than half-mile long, and is fairly level, but does involve some rock scrambling as you follow the narrow ridge out to the fire tower. Take your time and watch your step. At 4928 feet in elevation, the summit of Mt. Cammerer sits on the edge of a rocky outcropping overlooking the Pigeon River Gorge. On a clear day the views are simply awesome; some even say the best in the Park. For an even better vantage point, step up to the deck of the stone fire tower. This "western" style tower, which was fully restored in 1995, provides hikers with excellent 360 degree views. Look in any direction and see row upon row of mountains. The mountain directly across the gorge, with the white aviation tower at the top, is 4263-foot Snowbird Mountain. Below you and outside of the park is the water tower for the hydro-electric plant in the Big Creek area. To the south is Mt. Sterling with another interesting fire tower on its peak. And of course, towards the west, is the seemingly endless expanse of mountains we call the Smokies. The octagonal fire tower at the summit was built by local laborers and the Civilian Conservation Corp in the late 1930s using hand-cut stone. Men working on the tower drilled and blocked the stone right out of the mountainside from a quarry just 100 yards downhill from the tower. Some of these stones weighed as much as 600 pounds.
This hike was HARD, and I'm a pretty experience hiker. Funny enough, the way up was rough, but I was in way more pain on the way day. It's a constant ascent up, which was hard on my lungs, but it's a constant descent down, which was relentless on my knees and ankles. Ugh. It's also a pretty darn rocky trail with a ton of roots just waiting to turn your ankle. Oh, and there had apparently been a fleet of horses that had just been up since we had to avoid all kinds of poop piles the entire way.
However, the view is pretty spectacular. The fella and I had to stop quite a few times on the way up, so it took us a good 3.5 hours to get up. We hung out at the fire tower for about 20-30 minutes eating a snack and taking in the view. Then it took us another 2.5 hours to get back down, moaning and groaning the whole way because of our old legs.
This is a beautiful trail. Very challenging, especially the approach to the AT connection, but well worth the effort. The views from the watchtower are stunning so you'll be happy you made the trip. Also, the peak is a perfect spot for lunch and there are plenty of good rocky out crops to sit and rest and trickling streams to fill up on fresh mountain water along the way.
This trail is hard !!! but so worth it when you get to the fire tower.
I'm 6'2" and over 250lbs. great workout. it took roundtrip about 8 hrs that's stopping and resting and taken in the scenery. got to see several A.T. thru hikers which was a bonus . So glad I pushed myself to do this . go now!
The views are comparable to the best in the park (Mt. Leconte); however, it is also one of the more strenuous hikes. Be prepared for a steady incline for the entirety of the trek to the watch tower. Once there, the views are phenomenal!
Well Low Gap trail isn't a joke.. it's a 2500 ft climb in about 2 miles once you actually get on the trail from the parking lot almost 3 considering parking location.. The views from Cammerer Lookout are by far the best I've seen in the park hands down. The least crowded too only 5 people on trail Jan 22 2016.. I'd say this is one of the most under rated hikes in the smoky mountains.. If you don't mind 11 mile out and backs for breathtaking 360 views.. make this your next hike!
An amazing hike! I made it in November and the color of the leaves is breath-taking. If you're not a regular hiker, or a resident of a flat state like Florida (like me), definitely train for this one several months in advance. Your knees will thank you.
Low Gap - as the descriptions say, Low Gap is a relentless marathon of switchbacks and uphill work. It never seems to end. Thankfully, the isolation, beauty, and promise of the upcoming AT are enough to motivate!
AT to Mt. Cammerer - the uphill battle continues for awhile, but the views improve, especially in places where you can gaze into both Tennessee and North Carolina. I took some panoramic pictures here and they're some of the best shots I got.
Mt. Cammerer & Spur - The trail to the summit feels like a rockier extension of the AT, with some fun scrambling toward the end. On the summit, take as many pictures as you can and enjoy the crisp air. I met a pair of hikers who camped in the tower overnight - they were kind enough to share some hot chocolate with me while I iced my knees!
Great trail and what a view at the top. Would have spent many hours just sitting and taking in the surroundings but what goes up must go down
Great trail, however if you do the loop I recommend doing the longer part first. Also, pack light weight.
My hiking partner and I are 21 years old and in great shape, hiking a few times a week and active work every day we aren't hiking. However, this trail kicked our butts!! You gain 2,600 feet in elevation, most of it in the first 2.5 miles. There are so many uphill switchbacks that seem to never end!! The trail was gorgeous this fall day. The excitement builds as you get closer. it took us 4 hours to hike up, and about 2.5 or 3 to hike down. The views are UNBEATABLE from the fire tower deck. 360 degree views overlooking every mountain below. I wish we had stayed up here for longer. We had the tower to ourselves for about 15 minutes, pure silence and nature. Then an extremely loud group came up and it was not very enjoyable anymore. When you are up there, take it in!! Respect others who are breathing in this experience. Hiking is some people's way of escaping life and the hectic stress it brings. Please respect the peace and quiet and others who have summited this mountain just to take in the views. Besides the loud group, this hike was my all time favorite and I have seen none yet that compare. We were sore for 3 days afterwards but I would choose this hike again any day over working!
great from the 'AT' on
low gap is a relentless climb so take it easy.
best views in the park from the tower.
very early. trail gets alot of traffic.
This was a great hike. Completed this hike w/ a group of 6 varying in fitness levels from very little exercise to excel use 5+ times a week on October 27th, 2016. Everyone made it to the top and enjoyed the hike. The first 3 miles are fairly intense with mostly rock paths with a steady and steep incline. The last 2.5 miles to the tower level off a bit with lesser incline and even some portions of downhill.
Highly recommend this trail!