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Great Smoky Mountains National Park: Appalachian Trail from Fontana Dam to Davenport Gap

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Distance: 70.3 miles


Multiple peaks, steep climbs, and open meadows highlight this weeklong trip in Great Smoky Mountains National Park on the Appalachian Trail.

This 71-mile point-to-point from Fontana Dam to Davenport Gap tours the “best features in the East’s most popular park,” says Rives. “Go in fall for thinner crowds.” Hike 1.4 miles from Fontana Road along Fontana Dam; take time to cast into 11,700-acre Fontana’s waters, which hold some of the area’s best pike and bass fishing. You’ll hopscotch the border of North Carolina and Tennessee from mile 8 to the finish, and crest Clingman’s Dome—Tennessee’s highpoint at 6,643 feet­—at mile 33.8. Eight miles later, reach Newfound Gap to embark on the AT’s highest stretch: 34 miles above 5,000 feet, with stands of red spruce and Frasier fir framing mountain views. Six shelters dot this section, allowing flexible itineraries. Tip: Icewater Spring shelter (mile 44.7) has a sublime sunrise view.

Contact nps.gov/grsm

Shelters: Mollies Ridge Shelter: sleeps 12; no privy. Russell Field Shelter: sleeps 14; no privy. Spence Field Shelter: sleeps 12; privy. Derrick Knob Shelter: sleeps 12; no privy. Silers Bald Shelter: sleeps 12; no privy. Double Springs Gap Shelter: sleeps 12; privy. Mt. Collins Shelter; sleeps 12; privy.

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