This important National Scenic Trail runs through northeast Tennessee for about 70 miles, then follows the Tennessee-North Carolina border for more than 200 miles. Included is a 70-mile stretch in Great Smoky Mountains National Park, with the highest elevation of the entire trail at Clingman’s Dome (6,643 feet).

The mountainous and often rugged route in this state is among the most scenic sections of the whole trail. A number of open grassy balds offer magnificent panoramic views, and the trail traverses some unusually remote wilderness in the Smokies. Portions of the trail are quite steep and strenuous.

Camping Regulations: Shelters and other designated campsites are located every few miles along the trail. Much of the trail in Tennessee is on National Forest lands, and here camping is allowed almost anywhere, as are campfires. When camping at other than shelters or established areas, sites should be at least 100 feet from the trail and away from water sources.

Special rules apply for Great Smoky Mountains National Park. A permit is required, and it should be requested in advance (see the National Park entry page 220). Demand is high, and some permit requests for the Appalachian Trail are denied.

Backpackers must stay at trail shelters in the park, and tents may be set up outside only when a shelter is full. Shelters may be used for one night only. Trailside camping elsewhere along the Appalachian Trail is not permitted in this park.

Those who are backpacking the Appalachian Trail from well outside the park (thru hikers) do not need to make reservations in advance. A permit may be obtained at the time of entering the park, and shelters do not have to be specified in advance.

For Further Information: Appalachian Trail Conference, P.O. Box 807, Harpers Ferry, WV 25425. A Guide to the Appalachian Trail in Tennessee and North Carolina is available from this organization.


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