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

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

Trail Facts

  • Distance: 113.2

Waypoints

FON002

Location: 35.441637, -83.795053

Restrooms, a permit kiosk, and phone are located here.

FON004

Location: 35.449184, -83.796684

Pass a paved road leading to Fontana Dam Shelter.

FON011

Location: 35.460632, -83.811234

AT turns west at this junction; Lake Shore Trail continues straight.

FON029

Location: 35.564133, -83.730431

Pass Bote Mountain Trail to the west.

FON031

Location: 35.564152, -83.713966

Crest 5,441-foot Rocky Top with 360-degree views.

FON034

Location: 35.568516, -83.701233

Hike through beech tree forest.

FON042

Location: 35.567848, -83.636551

Cross Sams Gap.

FON043

Location: 35.572884, -83.621536

Hemlock Knob

FON045

Location: 35.579449, -83.603783

Miry Ridge Trail enters on the left.

FON050

Location: 35.565132, -83.560616

The Narrows

FON052

Location: 35.56535, -83.542297

Double Spring Gap Shelter

FON055

Location: 35.562218, -83.505936

Mt. Buckley

FON056

Location: 35.562099, -83.504318

Keep left at the fork with Clingmans Dome Bypass Trail.

FON059

Location: 35.562901, -83.498436

Top of Clingmans Dome Tower

FON064

Location: 35.611767, -83.442085

Climb stile over fence at the northern end of beech forest.

FON036

Location: 35.570301, -83.695435

AT traverses unnamed summit (5,040 ft.).

FON007

Location: 35.452648, -83.804436

Fontana Dam

FON054

Location: 35.562565, -83.509613

Hike through berry bushes.

FON024

Location: 35.561615, -83.766418

Russell Field Shelter; Russell Field Trail to the east.

FON022

Location: 35.555233, -83.775902

Little Abrams Gap

FON053

Location: 35.564716, -83.533401

Pass Goshen Prong Trail on the left.

FON035

Location: 35.569267, -83.697563

Side trail leads west to water.

FON010

Location: 35.454666, -83.810448

The route follows the road for this stretch.

FON016

Location: 35.526586, -83.820255

The trail crests Doe Knob and continues heading northeast.

FON062

Location: 35.609383, -83.446663

Prong Trail enters on the left.

FON057

Location: 35.563403, -83.498669

Turn right onto Clingmans Dome Tower Trail to climb to the top.

FON038

Location: 35.569726, -83.678377

Brier Knob rises to the north. Hike on tough, rocky terrain.

FON003

Location: 35.447948, -83.795715

AT turns east for the shelter and merges onto road.

FON001

Location: 35.441119, -83.795364

From NC 28/Fontana Road, hike north on the Appalachian Trail. Note: Heading west NC 28 leads to Fontana Village with a PO and general store.

FON044

Location: 35.579988, -83.608489

Cold Spring Knob

FON013

Location: 35.485035, -83.816368

AT veers west at the junction with the trail leading to Shuckstack Mountain.

FON012

Location: 35.483452, -83.81472

From this vantage point, you'll see valley views to the southwest. AT traverses hillside; rock slab terrain.

FON014

Location: 35.489188, -83.815727

Continue straight at the junction with Twentymile Trail, Lost Cove Trail, and Benton MacKaye Trail.

FON032

Location: 35.568481, -83.707115

Get more views of Rocky Top and the valley below.

FON058

Location: 35.563049, -83.498619

Base of Clingmans Dome Lookout Tower

FON023

Location: 35.557899, -83.772331

Big Abrams Gap

FON026

Location: 35.563896, -83.732858

Field

FON021

Location: 35.550499, -83.783882

Little Bald

FON048

Location: 35.564999, -83.566017

Views open to the west-southwest.

FON030

Location: 35.562599, -83.726868

From this open field, you'll catch views to the east of 5,441-foot Rocky Top.

FON017

Location: 35.530102, -83.814484

Mud Gap

FON041

Location: 35.566532, -83.64162

Derrick Knob Shelter

FON019

Location: 35.536568, -83.79985

Crest a highpoint on Short Ridge.

FON028

Location: 35.561959, -83.732718

Spence Field Shelter

FON046

Location: 35.578251, -83.601135

Buckeye Gap

FON006

Location: 35.448818, -83.795364

Restrooms

FON039

Location: 35.569516, -83.670201

Starkey Gap

FON040

Location: 35.569377, -83.657391

Sugartree Gap

FON018

Location: 35.538982, -83.805099

At Ekaneetlee Gap, a side trail leads west to water.

FON008

Location: 35.452568, -83.807983

AT turns east at the end of the dam.

FON025

Location: 35.563034, -83.752197

Maple Sugar Gap

FON033

Location: 35.5686, -83.706215

Thunderhead Mountain (5,527 ft.)

FON037

Location: 35.569084, -83.692284

Beechnut Gap

FON009

Location: 35.453751, -83.809181

Pass parking and picnic table. Views of the dam to the southeast.

FON051

Location: 35.565006, -83.5448

Traverse Jenkins Knob.

FON015

Location: 35.5019, -83.813248

Birch Spring Gap: Birch Spring Shelter has been replaced by NPS campsite #113; water (.1 mi.).

FON060

Location: 35.578602, -83.480003

Collins Gap

FON049

Location: 35.566032, -83.565399

AT turns east at Silers Bald; look for views of Clingmans Dome, which rises directly to the east.

FON005

Location: 35.449051, -83.796387

Parking and trail to Fontana Dam Shelter

FON065

Location: 35.61129, -83.438866

Indian Gap

FON020

Location: 35.546032, -83.793915

Mollies Ridge Shelter

FON063

Location: 35.611084, -83.444

Climb stile over fence at the southern end of beech forest.

FON027

Location: 35.563774, -83.73157

Pass the trail to Spence Field Shelter on the right (south).

FON047

Location: 35.564178, -83.568352

Silers Bald Shelter

FON099

Location: 35.721001, -83.248352

Views to the southeast

FON104

Location: 35.726299, -83.218246

AT traverses around the north-facing slopes of Camel Hump Knob.

FON090

Location: 35.669235, -83.291382

Copper Gap

FON114

Location: 35.762184, -83.157706

Stop for big views to the east, just below Mt. Cammerer's 4,928-foot summit.

FON082

Location: 35.662266, -83.34375

Views to the east

FON086

Location: 35.655334, -83.30822

Just past Pecks Corner, Hughes Ridge Trail enters on the right; .4 mile. to Peck's Shelter (no horse shelter).

FON083

Location: 35.66624, -83.341298

Laurel Top rises directly to the south.

FON103

Location: 35.726784, -83.237968

Snake Den Ridge Trail enters on the left.

FON087

Location: 35.659649, -83.2957

Views to the west along knife edge.

FON084

Location: 35.664268, -83.337151

Grand views of valley to the south-southeast and Pecks Corner. Look back to see the AT along the ridgetop.

FON066

Location: 35.611251, -83.425326

Cross US 441 at Newfound Gap (you'll find parking, bathrooms, water, and views here).

FON070

Location: 35.629749, -83.386284

Icewater Spring Shelter

FON112

Location: 35.737499, -83.181282

Cross Low Gap. Next, the trail climbs north to Rocky Face Mountain.

FON088

Location: 35.661499, -83.294334

View of Eagle Rocks

FON106

Location: 35.725883, -83.204865

Cross Camel Gap. Camel Gap Trail forks right.

FON110

Location: 35.728468, -83.181857

Cosby Knob Shelter

FON107

Location: 35.728249, -83.193817

Bear cub sighting

FON085

Location: 35.657135, -83.315933

Views open to the southwest as you cross this scree field.

FON096

Location: 35.702885, -83.259735

Stop for views to the south-southeast of Tricorner Knob.

FON109

Location: 35.728716, -83.182189

Trail to Cosby Knob Shelter

FON115

Location: 35.765301, -83.144135

Lower Mt. Cammerer Trail enters from the left.

FON081

Location: 35.660717, -83.350151

This point offers views to the north-northwest of foothills and flats.

FON071

Location: 35.630348, -83.386551

Icewater Spring (piped)

FON091

Location: 35.68594, -83.269577

Traverse Mt. Chapman's east-facing slopes.

FON094

Location: 35.694463, -83.256723

Hitching post

FON093

Location: 35.693888, -83.256535

Tricorner Knob Shelter

FON111

Location: 35.730785, -83.182318

Tiny spring

FON101

Location: 35.725899, -83.241348

Trail travels through sweet-smelling spruce forest.

FON069

Location: 35.629982, -83.386536

Trail to Icewater Spring Shelter

FON095

Location: 35.694649, -83.256569

Pass Balsam Mountain Trail on the right.

FON079

Location: 35.645963, -83.360395

Porter Gap

FON089

Location: 35.661766, -83.293968

Views to the northwest of valley

FON074

Location: 35.637299, -83.37558

Side trail leads west to views; warning sign.

FON072

Location: 35.636899, -83.376746

Side trail on the left leads to views of Charlies Bunion.

FON097

Location: 35.710068, -83.254066

Spring

FON075

Location: 35.638416, -83.372101

Open views to the west-southwest of the valley; bear sightings have occurred here.

FON102

Location: 35.726601, -83.240135

Plane crash debris

FON100

Location: 35.721634, -83.246315

Views to the southwest of Old Black and Mt. Guyot

FON115

Location: 35.764816, -83.156998

At this switchback, you'll get views to the north.

FON092

Location: 35.693844, -83.257173

The trail to Tricorner Knob Shelter enters on the right.

FON068

Location: 35.628834, -83.39045

The Boulevard Trail forks left to Mt. LeConte.

FON116

Location: 35.767418, -83.133385

Chestnut Branch Branch Trail enters on the right.

FON113

Location: 35.748901, -83.169449

Sunup Knob

FON078

Location: 35.643347, -83.362391

The Sawteeth

FON080

Location: 35.657284, -83.353935

False Gap

FON113

Location: 35.761032, -83.161003

Small spring

FON077

Location: 35.640068, -83.366653

Look northeast for views of The Sawteeth, a 5,452-foot peak.

FON108

Location: 35.729149, -83.190804

Ross Knob

FON076

Location: 35.638248, -83.369019

Dry Sluice Gap Trail enters on the right.

FON098

Location: 35.7201, -83.250465

Views to the east of valley

FON067

Location: 35.6213, -83.403603

Sweat Heifer Creek Trail enters on the right.

FON073

Location: 35.637357, -83.37658

Charlies Bunion rises to the northeast.

FON105

Location: 35.725552, -83.20752

Views open to the south, just west of Camel Gap.

FON117

Location: 35.769314, -83.122559

Trail to Davenport Gap Shelter

FON118

Location: 35.76934, -83.123052

Davenport Gap Shelter

FON119

Location: 35.769218, -83.122116

Side trail leads west to Davenport Gap Shelter.

FON120

Location: 35.770629, -83.111089

The route ends at Davenport Gap/TN 32/NC 32, which is also the eastern boundary of Great Smoky Mountain NP.

FON061

Location: 35.586235, -83.472962

Crest 6,188-foot Mt. Collins and continue north.