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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.
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.
- Distance: 113.2
Location: 35.441637, -83.795053
Restrooms, a permit kiosk, and phone are located here.
Location: 35.449184, -83.796684
Pass a paved road leading to Fontana Dam Shelter.
Location: 35.460632, -83.811234
AT turns west at this junction; Lake Shore Trail continues straight.
Location: 35.564133, -83.730431
Pass Bote Mountain Trail to the west.
Location: 35.564152, -83.713966
Crest 5,441-foot Rocky Top with 360-degree views.
Location: 35.568516, -83.701233
Hike through beech tree forest.
Location: 35.567848, -83.636551
Cross Sams Gap.
Location: 35.572884, -83.621536
Location: 35.579449, -83.603783
Miry Ridge Trail enters on the left.
Location: 35.565132, -83.560616
Location: 35.56535, -83.542297
Double Spring Gap Shelter
Location: 35.562218, -83.505936
Location: 35.562099, -83.504318
Keep left at the fork with Clingmans Dome Bypass Trail.
Location: 35.562901, -83.498436
Top of Clingmans Dome Tower
Location: 35.611767, -83.442085
Climb stile over fence at the northern end of beech forest.
Location: 35.570301, -83.695435
AT traverses unnamed summit (5,040 ft.).
Location: 35.452648, -83.804436
Location: 35.562565, -83.509613
Hike through berry bushes.
Location: 35.561615, -83.766418
Russell Field Shelter; Russell Field Trail to the east.
Location: 35.555233, -83.775902
Little Abrams Gap
Location: 35.564716, -83.533401
Pass Goshen Prong Trail on the left.
Location: 35.569267, -83.697563
Side trail leads west to water.
Location: 35.454666, -83.810448
The route follows the road for this stretch.
Location: 35.526586, -83.820255
The trail crests Doe Knob and continues heading northeast.
Location: 35.609383, -83.446663
Prong Trail enters on the left.
Location: 35.563403, -83.498669
Turn right onto Clingmans Dome Tower Trail to climb to the top.
Location: 35.569726, -83.678377
Brier Knob rises to the north. Hike on tough, rocky terrain.
Location: 35.447948, -83.795715
AT turns east for the shelter and merges onto road.
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.
Location: 35.579988, -83.608489
Cold Spring Knob
Location: 35.485035, -83.816368
AT veers west at the junction with the trail leading to Shuckstack Mountain.
Location: 35.483452, -83.81472
From this vantage point, you’ll see valley views to the southwest. AT traverses hillside; rock slab terrain.
Location: 35.489188, -83.815727
Continue straight at the junction with Twentymile Trail, Lost Cove Trail, and Benton MacKaye Trail.
Location: 35.568481, -83.707115
Get more views of Rocky Top and the valley below.
Location: 35.563049, -83.498619
Base of Clingmans Dome Lookout Tower
Location: 35.557899, -83.772331
Big Abrams Gap
Location: 35.563896, -83.732858
Location: 35.550499, -83.783882
Location: 35.564999, -83.566017
Views open to the west-southwest.
Location: 35.562599, -83.726868
From this open field, you’ll catch views to the east of 5,441-foot Rocky Top.
Location: 35.530102, -83.814484
Location: 35.566532, -83.64162
Derrick Knob Shelter
Location: 35.536568, -83.79985
Crest a highpoint on Short Ridge.
Location: 35.561959, -83.732718
Spence Field Shelter
Location: 35.578251, -83.601135
Location: 35.448818, -83.795364
Location: 35.569516, -83.670201
Location: 35.569377, -83.657391
Location: 35.538982, -83.805099
At Ekaneetlee Gap, a side trail leads west to water.
Location: 35.452568, -83.807983
AT turns east at the end of the dam.
Location: 35.563034, -83.752197
Maple Sugar Gap
Location: 35.5686, -83.706215
Thunderhead Mountain (5,527 ft.)
Location: 35.569084, -83.692284
Location: 35.453751, -83.809181
Pass parking and picnic table. Views of the dam to the southeast.
Location: 35.565006, -83.5448
Traverse Jenkins Knob.
Location: 35.5019, -83.813248
Birch Spring Gap: Birch Spring Shelter has been replaced by NPS campsite #113; water (.1 mi.).
Location: 35.578602, -83.480003
Location: 35.566032, -83.565399
AT turns east at Silers Bald; look for views of Clingmans Dome, which rises directly to the east.
Location: 35.449051, -83.796387
Parking and trail to Fontana Dam Shelter
Location: 35.61129, -83.438866
Location: 35.546032, -83.793915
Mollies Ridge Shelter
Location: 35.611084, -83.444
Climb stile over fence at the southern end of beech forest.
Location: 35.563774, -83.73157
Pass the trail to Spence Field Shelter on the right (south).
Location: 35.564178, -83.568352
Silers Bald Shelter
Location: 35.721001, -83.248352
Views to the southeast
Location: 35.726299, -83.218246
AT traverses around the north-facing slopes of Camel Hump Knob.
Location: 35.669235, -83.291382
Location: 35.762184, -83.157706
Stop for big views to the east, just below Mt. Cammerer’s 4,928-foot summit.
Location: 35.662266, -83.34375
Views to the east
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).
Location: 35.66624, -83.341298
Laurel Top rises directly to the south.
Location: 35.726784, -83.237968
Snake Den Ridge Trail enters on the left.
Location: 35.659649, -83.2957
Views to the west along knife edge.
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.
Location: 35.611251, -83.425326
Cross US 441 at Newfound Gap (you’ll find parking, bathrooms, water, and views here).
Location: 35.629749, -83.386284
Icewater Spring Shelter
Location: 35.737499, -83.181282
Cross Low Gap. Next, the trail climbs north to Rocky Face Mountain.
Location: 35.661499, -83.294334
View of Eagle Rocks
Location: 35.725883, -83.204865
Cross Camel Gap. Camel Gap Trail forks right.
Location: 35.728468, -83.181857
Cosby Knob Shelter
Location: 35.728249, -83.193817
Bear cub sighting
Location: 35.657135, -83.315933
Views open to the southwest as you cross this scree field.
Location: 35.702885, -83.259735
Stop for views to the south-southeast of Tricorner Knob.
Location: 35.728716, -83.182189
Trail to Cosby Knob Shelter
Location: 35.765301, -83.144135
Lower Mt. Cammerer Trail enters from the left.
Location: 35.660717, -83.350151
This point offers views to the north-northwest of foothills and flats.
Location: 35.630348, -83.386551
Icewater Spring (piped)
Location: 35.68594, -83.269577
Traverse Mt. Chapman’s east-facing slopes.
Location: 35.694463, -83.256723
Location: 35.693888, -83.256535
Tricorner Knob Shelter
Location: 35.730785, -83.182318
Location: 35.725899, -83.241348
Trail travels through sweet-smelling spruce forest.
Location: 35.629982, -83.386536
Trail to Icewater Spring Shelter
Location: 35.694649, -83.256569
Pass Balsam Mountain Trail on the right.
Location: 35.645963, -83.360395
Location: 35.661766, -83.293968
Views to the northwest of valley
Location: 35.637299, -83.37558
Side trail leads west to views; warning sign.
Location: 35.636899, -83.376746
Side trail on the left leads to views of Charlies Bunion.
Location: 35.710068, -83.254066
Location: 35.638416, -83.372101
Open views to the west-southwest of the valley; bear sightings have occurred here.
Location: 35.726601, -83.240135
Plane crash debris
Location: 35.721634, -83.246315
Views to the southwest of Old Black and Mt. Guyot
Location: 35.764816, -83.156998
At this switchback, you’ll get views to the north.
Location: 35.693844, -83.257173
The trail to Tricorner Knob Shelter enters on the right.
Location: 35.628834, -83.39045
The Boulevard Trail forks left to Mt. LeConte.
Location: 35.767418, -83.133385
Chestnut Branch Branch Trail enters on the right.
Location: 35.748901, -83.169449
Location: 35.643347, -83.362391
Location: 35.657284, -83.353935
Location: 35.761032, -83.161003
Location: 35.640068, -83.366653
Look northeast for views of The Sawteeth, a 5,452-foot peak.
Location: 35.729149, -83.190804
Location: 35.638248, -83.369019
Dry Sluice Gap Trail enters on the right.
Location: 35.7201, -83.250465
Views to the east of valley
Location: 35.6213, -83.403603
Sweat Heifer Creek Trail enters on the right.
Location: 35.637357, -83.37658
Charlies Bunion rises to the northeast.
Location: 35.725552, -83.20752
Views open to the south, just west of Camel Gap.
Location: 35.769314, -83.122559
Trail to Davenport Gap Shelter
Location: 35.76934, -83.123052
Davenport Gap Shelter
Location: 35.769218, -83.122116
Side trail leads west to Davenport Gap Shelter.
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.
Location: 35.586235, -83.472962
Crest 6,188-foot Mt. Collins and continue north.