Get full access to Outside Learn, our online education hub featuring in-depth fitness, nutrition, and adventure courses and more than 2,000 instructional videos when you sign up for Outside+ Sign up for Outside+ today.
Rangers issue hundreds of permits a month for popular backcountry sites in the bustling Smokies. But for Hesse Creek (site 003) in the northwest corner, it’s three or four. How do we know? We called the backcountry office and asked about use statistics. Follow the numbers to this peaceful spot, tucked under a hemlock canopy and habitat for grouse, black bears, and deer, via the 5.6-mile Ace Gap Trail. Info: nps.gov/grsm