Friday, January 25, 2013

Clarification on New Reservation System for Appalachian Trail Thru-hikers in the Smokies

Earlier in the week the Great Smoky Mountains announced that changes to its current backcountry reservation and permitting process will take effect on February 13th. With that announcement came several questions on how this will impact Appalachian Trail thru-hikers as they pass through the Smokies.

Thanks to Jared King for providing a link to the Appalachian Trail Conservancy website that provides clarification on the rules pertaining to thru-hikers. Here's how the process will work:
• Backcountry permits for A.T. thru-hikers will be available online at

• There will be a $20 charge for each permit.

• You must have a permit before backpacking in Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

• Permits may be obtained up to 30 days in advance of the date a thru hiker anticipates entering the Smokies.

• Permits will be valid for 38 days from the date issued for an up to 8 day hike through the Smokies. All other thru-hiker regulations remain in effect.

You may also get a permit in person at the park’s Backcountry Office (at the Sugarlands Visitor Center near Gatlinburg) or over the phone; with permits issued by fax, mail or email. For more information, please call 865-436-1297.
Also, I would assume that this policy will remain in place, as currently published on the Appalachian Trail NPS website:
Shelter Policy - Park regulations require that you stay in a shelter......From Mar. 15 to June 15, four spaces at each A.T. shelter are reserved for thru-hikers. If the shelter is full, thru-hikers can tent close by. Only thru-hikers are allowed to tent next to shelters, so they are responsible for making room for those who have reservations in the shelters.

Hiking in the Smokies

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