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!!