What's open and Where can I hike?

Sunday, October 6, 2013

"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.

* All of the State Parks in Tennessee are open as well.

* 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


Anonymous said...

I'm guessing that Clingman's Dome Road is closed.... do you know if that is correct?

The Smoky Mountain Hiker said...

Yes, my understanding is that it's closed.


Unknown said...

We have booked the cabin in pigeonforge and they will not refund if we cancel. Can you suggest a trail on 441 that is still open? I never been on that side before. Thank you so much!

The Smoky Mountain Hiker said...

Jimmy - I don't think you'll find much hiking on 441 near PF. Depending on how far you want to drive, and how many miles you want to hike, I would recommend Max Patch, which is relatively close. A little further out, a longer hike, but even more scenic is Grassy Ridge Bald. I have links to both above.


Anonymous said...

Are rangers actively turning hikers away from trailheads or are they just blocking parking lots?

Can you park at Newfound Gap and walk to Charlie's Bunion?

Anonymous said...

Thank you for taking the time to post this information. I've been referencing your site for awhile and I came here with a hunch that you did exactly what you did. Thank you again.

The Smoky Mountain Hiker said...

Thanks 10-96!

Anonymous said...

We are also held up waiting to hike Charlies Bunion Can you tell us if others are hiking it ?

Unknown said...

confirmed. you can hike, but have to park on sideway grass. no officers are checking and giving ticket. all 441 trailheads are accessible

Unknown said...

I saw around 200 people hiking on trail. park police are parking next hikers cars and at least we did not get ticket.