Sunday, October 6, 2013
What's open and Where can I hike?
"What's open?" and "Where can I hike?" are two questions that I've been asked several times over the last few days. With no end in sight for the Federal Government shutdown, I thought I would offer some suggestions for hikes in the Smokies area:
* First of all, it should be noted that Newfound Gap Road is definitely open through the Smokies (from Gatlinburg to Cherokee). Also, as of 10/6/13, there are now confirmed reports that the barricades have been removed, and the bathrooms are open at Newfound Gap. Additionally, the cones and barricades have been removed from all the overlooks, as well as most of the trailheads, with the exception of the Chimney Tops and Alum Caves trailheads.
* It appears that most of North Carolina is open for hiking. This includes the Blue Ridge Parkway, all of the NC State Parks, as well as the Pisgah and Nantahala National Forests. However, you should note that none of the facilities on the BRP or in the national forests are open.
* Hiking in Cherokee National Forest is open.
As far as specific hikes or locations are concerned, here are a few options:
* Grassy Ridge Bald on Roan Mountain is an absolutely outstanding hike.
* Big Bald Mountain along the Appalachian Trail on the Tennesssee/North Carolina border near Erwin, TN is another great hike that offers outstanding views.
* The section of Appalachian Trail, from Beauty Spot to Unaka Mountain (also near Erwin), offers more big views from grassy balds.
* The Art Loeb Trail in the Shining Rock Wilderness is an excellent choice for both hikers and backpackers. As is Cold Mountain.
* Linville Gorge is another great location for hiking and backpacking.
* Max Patch heading towards Asheville on I-40 is an excellent choice for a relatively short, easy hike with great views.
* Both Mt. Mitchell and Chimney Rock State Parks in NC have great hiking opportunities. There are some additional options both here and here.
* Frozen Head State Park is 65 miles northwest of the Smoky Mountains in the beautiful Cumberland Mountains. There are more than 80 miles of trails that visit waterfalls, giant sandstone rock formations and bluffs.
* Mt. Rogers in Virginia is one of my all-time favorite hikes.
If anyone has any other options during the closure, please feel free to leave a comment.
Hiking in the Smokies