Seeking veteran backpacker advice
I've studied maps and guidebooks and now I need some sage wisdom from those of you who can offer your thoughts. Planning a 4 day backpacking trip with a friend from March 30 to April 2nd. I am seeking a loop that could provide us with an initial base camp for the first 2 nights so we can fish and explore and then finish the trip off with a final day of hiking to complete a loop. I have found 4 routes that fit the bill and would love advice and additional suggestions:
1) Deep Creek, camp in 55-58 and spend 2 nights and days there fishing and exploring. Then come back down Noland Divide Tr via Pole Rd Cr Tr.
2) Clingman's Dome trailhead: Hike down forney creek tr. to campsite 71 and stay there 2 nights. Then finish by taking Springhouse Branch Tr to Forney Ridge Trail. Can you park at Clingman's dome for this hike? Is forney wadable at that time of year?
3) Big Creek: Take Big Cr Tr to campsite 36 or 37. Camp and fish there for 2 nights. Then take Swallow Fork Trail to Mt. Sterling Ridge Trail. Camp at Campsite 38 at Sterling Ridge and then take Baxter Creek Trail back to the trailhead.
4) Fontana Dam Trailhead: Lakeshore trail to Eagle Creek Trail. Stay on Eagle for 2 nights. Then take the AT to Jenkins Trail to an unnamed Trail at Pickens Gap that flows along Pinnacle Creek. Back to the TH on lakeshore trail.
5) Or... is there an option where we just hike in 5-10 miles the first day, stay there all 3 nights. It would need to be an area where there is lots of room for day hikes and fishing from base camp, and then we can just return the way we came.
Thoughts in regards to time of year, ease of fording Forney or Eagle at this time of year, safety in hiking high altitudes.... All is much appreciated!!
Tyring to predict Smokies weather will make you pull your hair out
And the weather will predict where you should be. By April it could be warm as could be, or there could be snow:eek:
If it warms up pretty good, I personally would be around a good brookie stream. If it's colder you want to be on a lower elevation stream like David suggested. I have a upcoming Smokies trip a week before yours, and trying to plan to plan it has been tough since it hard to predict the temps, and more importantly the rain fall. You mentioned crossings on Forney. At regular water level, you will get wet, but not bad. On the other hand after a good rain, you might be held up.
As to your specific suggestions:
1 - Sounds like a decent trip
2 - Nice trip, but watch weather and water levels for crossings. If the system is flush with water, I'd pick another
3 - Sounds good. Also some crossings on Big Creek, but unless after a rain event should be fine. I like this idea. Easy walk, lots of fishing, then some views on the way home when your pack is lighter
4 - Eagle crossings can be bad, not sure about the one that low, others may be able to help better as I have not been to Eagle in 15+ years.
5 - 24 like Rog suggested, or if you wanted to mix it up. 30, then 23.
Good luck, and post a trip report when you get back, and take a camera:biggrin:
Fontana Dam to Eagle Creek
This is a "tough" hike... been-there-done-that a couple of times ......the distance is not the big problem.....the rollycoaster trail will wear you out....up & down numerous times.... I would get the shuttle service at the dam to take you over and you could hike the trail back out........ at last report $25.00 one way.... it would be an all day hike and you would loose alot of stream time.......Good luck and be careful........... :biggrin: