SUBSCRIBE | NEWSLETTERS | MAPS | VIDEOS | BLOGS | MARKETPLACE | CONTESTS
TRY BACKPACKER FREE!
SUBSCRIBE NOW and get
2 Free Issues and 3 Free Gifts!
Full Name:
Address 1:
Address 2:
City:
State:
Zip Code:
Email: (required)
If I like it and decide to continue, I'll pay just $12.00, and receive a full one-year subscription (9 issues in all), a 73% savings off the newsstand price! If for any reason I decide not to continue, I'll write "cancel" on the invoice and owe nothing.
Your subscription includes 3 FREE downloadable booklets.
Or click here to pay now and get 2 extra issues
Offer valid in US only.

Also on Backpacker.com


Enter Zip Code

Backpacker Magazine – November 2012

Great Smoky Mountains National Park: Maddron Bald Loop

Pass waterfalls, cross empty peaks, and visit monster-size trees.

by: Peter Rives and Andrew Matranga


Do it For totally off-the-beaten-path trekking, head to the Cosby section in the park’s northeast quadrant for this three-day, 17.3-mile loop. This region, once known as the “Moonshine Capital of the World,” features steep, dark redoubts laced with boulders and virgin forest—terrain deemed unfit for logging but ideal for bootleggers to set up their illicit stills. Walk in their footsteps as you leave Cosby Campground (1), pushing west on the Gabes Mountain Trail through fern- and stream-laced Bearneck Gap. At mile 2.1, watch Hen Wallow Falls (2) pour through a crack in a 60-foot face to form a shining cascade. At mile 4.7, drop packs and relax at any of the 10 first-come, first-serve sites at Sugar Grove (#34) (3).

The next morning, continue on the Gabes Mountain Trail for 1.8 miles until you hit the Maddron Bald Trail
 (4). Turn left to begin a gentle ascent above Indian Camp Creek. After 1.7 miles, turn right onto the Albright Grove Loop Trail (5) for a .6-mile meander through a rare stand of virgin forest, dominated by hemlock and poplar, and peppered with basswood, fraser magnolia, and beech. Nearly halfway into the loop, a tulip poplar a few yards off the trail measures more than 135 feet tall and 25 feet around. Rejoin the Maddron Bald Trail (by turning right) to continue on your steepening ascent past the ever-present murmur of Camp Creek, Copperhead Branch, and Otter Creek. At mile 11.3, reach the Otter Creek campsite (#29; reservation required) (6) and pitch your tent on a gravelly terrace carved from the steep confines of the drainage.

The next morning, ascend 700 feet in a mile through hardwoods that give way to waist-high laurel and blueberry atop 5,212-foot Maddron Bald 
(7). Scan the sea of receding, mist-topped ridges; Greenbrier Pinnacle is the cone to the west. Continue over the heath-draped summit to meet the Snake Den Ridge Trail (8). Descend northeast back to the flats, dropping 2,800 feet in 4.2 miles on rocky, narrow switchbacks that wind through a mix of pine and balsam. Pause at a heath-covered bald 2.3 miles along the ridge and look south (along the AT) from Inadu Knob to Mt. Cammerer. At mile 17 (9), turn left back toward Cosby Campground. Trip ID 1822208

Permit Backcountry permit required (currently free; $4/person/night starting in 2013); available at Sugarlands Visitors Center 
Reservations Required for most campsites and all shelters. Call 30 days in advance. 
Gear up Nantahala Outdoor Center, 1138 Parkway, Gatlinburg, TN; (865) 277-8209; noc.com 
Local flavor Après hike, stop just outside the park at Smokey’s Sports Pub & Grub for the plate-size Mountain Burger. (865) 436-4220; smokyspubandgrub.com 
Season May-June to avoid thru-hikers; September to miss high season on Clingmans Dome Contact (865) 436-1297; nps.gov/grsm

BUY THE PRO MAP



Subscribe to Backpacker magazine
Sign up for our free weekly e-newsletter
Name:
Address 1:
Address 2:
City:
State:
Zip:
Email (req):

Reader Rating: -

READERS COMMENTS

Star Star Star
george
Jan 03, 2013

this is a nice loop hike, not too challenging. you could also consider starting at Big Creek campground, hiking a flat trail 5 miles up to camp at beautiful walnut bottom beside the very large creek (there are bridges over the creek). camel gap trail takes you up to the AT, where you can connect to maddron bald trail and campsite. there are more views from the AT. from there you can take snake den ridge back through Cosby to low gap trail and back via walnut bottoms(15 miles) or the AT (12 miles) back to Big Creek. these areas get a lot of bear activity, you might get to see a few.

ADD A COMMENT

Your rating:
Your Name:

Comment:

My Profile Join Now

Most recent threads

Trailhead Register
Cute kissing snails!
Posted On: Apr 18, 2014
Submitted By: Montanalonewolf
The Political Arena
Homeless woman goes on an interview then
Posted On: Apr 18, 2014
Submitted By: KenV
Go
View all Gear
Find a retailer

Special sections - Expert handbooks for key trails, techniques and gear

Check out Montana in Warren Miller's Ticket to Ride
Warren Miller athletes charge hard and reflect on Big Sky country, their love for this space and the immense energy allotted to the people who reside in Montana.

Boost Your Apps
Add powerful tools and exclusive maps to your BACKPACKER apps through our partnership with Trimble Outdoors.

Carry the Best Maps
With BACKPACKER PRO Maps, get life-list destinations and local trips on adventure-ready waterproof myTopo paper.

FREE Rocky Mountain Trip Planner
Sign up for a free Rocky Mountain National Park trip planning kit from our sister site MyRockyMountainPark.com.

Follow BackpackerMag on Twitter Follow Backpacker on Facebook
Get 2 FREE Trial Issues and 3 FREE GIFTS
Survival Skills 101 • Eat Better
The Best Trails in America
YES! Please send me my FREE trial issues of Backpacker
and my 3 FREE downloadable booklets.
Full Name:
City:
Address 1:
Zip Code:
State:
Address 2:
Email (required):
Free trial offer valid for US subscribers only. Canadian subscriptions | International subscriptions