QUICK TAKE: Maddron Bald
WHERE: Cosby Campground is in the northeast corner of Great Smoky Mountains National Park, 220 miles (4 hours) north of Atlanta.
THE WAY: From 1-40, take exit 443 for Foothills Parkway to US 321 south through Cosby. Turn right onto Cosby Access Road and park at a ranger shack 2.5 miles in. Backtrack by foot .5 mile to Gabes Mountain trailhead.
TRAILS: For a weekend-size, 17.2-mile loop originating at Cosby Campground, use the Gabes Mountain, Maddron Bald, and Snake Den Ridge Trails. For a three-day, 30.4-mile loop, follow Snake Den Ridge Trail to the Appalachian Trail at Inadu Knob. Follow the AT to Lower Mt. Cammerer Trail and back to Cosby.
ELEVATION: Lowest point is 2,459 at Cosby Campground; highest spot is 5,200-foot
CAN’T MISS: The side trek to Albright Grove, where you’ll find forest giants like the park’s largest tulip poplar.
CROWD CONTROL: Backcountry sites are rationed, so call ahead to make a reservation at the backcountry office (see below).
PIT STOP: Three words: Biscuits and gravy. A plateful costs just 85 cents at Debbie’s Diner, west of Cosby on US 321.
WALK SOFTLY: Use bear-bag hangs at backcountry sites.
MAPS AND GUIDES: Great Smoky Mountains National Park (Trails Illustrated; 800-962-1643; $9.95).
MORE INFORMATION: Great Smoky Mountains National Park backcountry camping reservations: (423) 436-1231.