Appalachian Trail beckons to backpackers, hikers

Mt Katahdin from Jo Mary Lake beach.
Mt Katahdin from Jo Mary Lake beach.

Apr. 05, 2014 @ 11:52 PM

Upland Chronicles

“Every April, hundreds of energetic hikers head north from a mountain in North Georgia called Springer to start an annual migration along a ribbon of trail marked by a distinctive white tree blaze. This trail covers some 2,180 miles as it passes through 14 states, including Tennessee, on its way to a rocky peak in Maine called Mt. Katahdin. It is a famous trail among backpackers and hikers. To hike this trail can be an “adventure of a lifetime,” as one writer called it. The trail is called the Appalachian Trail, and part of it passes along the border of Sevier County.

Many of the hikers heading north from Georgia have a big goal of getting all the way to Maine by fall, while others plan on completing the trail over multiple years by hiking sections at a time (it takes about six months of steady hiking to complete the trail in one year). But all who hike the whole trail ultimately find themselves in part of Sevier County inside Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

The Appalachian Trail runs 71 miles through the Smokies, and for approximately half that distance it shares space with Sevier County, from roughly one mile west of Derrick Knob shelter to one-half mile east of Mt. Guyot at Old Black, approximately. Along this section, which adjoins the North Carolina border, hikers and backpackers can access and experience many of the highest and most spectacular peaks and mountains in all of the Smokies. These include Mt. Buckley, Clingmans Dome (the highest peak in the Smokies at 6,643 feet above sea level), Mt. Love, Mt. Collins, Newfound Gap, Mt. Kephart, Charlies Bunion, Masa Knob, “The Sawteeth,” Mt. Sequoyah, Mt. Chapman, and Mt. Guyot (the second highest peak in the Smokies at 6,621 feet above sea level).”