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Thread: New NPS Smokies Backcountry Map - "No Horsing Around Here"

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Mar 2008
    Loudon, TN

    Default New NPS Smokies Backcountry Map - "No Horsing Around Here"

    As of February 13, 2013, Great Smoky Mountains National Park requires a permit and reservation for all backcountry camping in the park. Prior to that only certain campsites required reservations and those were designated on the Trail Map and Guide with red (technically, magenta) numbers. The others were shown in green. In the list of the campsites on the reverse side of the map, bold type was used for the names of the site to designate those that required reservations.

    The new October 2012 Park Trail Map now uses magenta to designate a "Hiker only campsite" and green for a "Horse and hiker campsite." On the reverse side of the revised map a bold H designates those at which horses (and other pack animals) is allowed. (It is not clear why the "H" needs to be in bold type.)

    It is not necessary to count my teeth to verify that I am a mere 2 years and 22 days away from being 70 years old. So I maybe have an excuse. But I can't help but think even younger backpackers will be confused with the recycling of the use of red and green and bold type.

    To help us in the transition to the new reservation system and to avoid mistakenly hitching our horse up at the wrong place, I plan to suggest to Great Smoky Mountains Association and, if necessary, National Park Service leadership the use of pictographs similar to those pictured below. We are using those to update our maps. To my knowledge there is no official NPS symbol for "no horses allowed," just the one used for "no horses allowed on certain trails" (see photo).

    Okay... there are at least two hitches that come to mind that would need to be plowed through: 1) the size and scale of the Park map would not easily accommodate the use of my jumbo-sized "no horses allowed at this campsite" symbol and 2) the NPS cartographer appear to have to adhere strictly to the use approved pictographs only.

    One solution regarding the first hurdle would be for the NPS to produce a slightly larger map and charge say $5 (plus a free PDF download) to take its place. The current map is $1. (We have been including the Park Trail Map for free in the printed fishing map sets we sell, but that might have to change.). If the enlarged map was designed well enough, I think most Park visitors wouldn't mind terribly inserting a fiver in the slot of honor system boxes.

    Finally, I am planning to contact Trails Illustrated to see where they stand in revising their three maps of the Park.
    – JF

    Last edited by JoeFred; 03-08-2013 at 01:00 AM.
    “Joe” Fred Turner

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Knoxville, Tennessee


    Out of the list of bad things that come out of all the new backcountry regulations, the only good thing is that a hiker is now allowed to stay a horse camps. While I haven't heard of it ever being enforced before, it is nice that a fisherman can now stay at 36 closer to the headwaters of Big Creek.

    Why are the horses not charged to go overnight? My 3 year olds are. They don't leave quagmires and erosion everywhere and rough up the trails, and tear up the campsites. They don't leave huge piles of **** everywhere.

    It's funny you picked that sign Joe Fred. I was just there hiking with the family a couple weekends ago, and Thomas who is now proving to be a real stickler for the rules and likes to point out for everybody

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Mar 2008
    Loudon, TN


    Young Thomas is my kinda guy. Thanks for sharing.

    Yesterday (Thursday) I was able to meet with a very professional and curteous ranger at park headquarters who listened intently as I went down the list of things on the revised Trail Map I thought needed attention and who confirmed he understood the points being made. As we went though he actually typed each item in an e-mail. When we finished, he promptly sent the e-mail to the person who was made responsible for coordinating the change over to the new backcountry reservation system. Afterward I shared my thoughts about NPS producing a somewhat larger map. Both of us doubt seriously that would ever happen.

    The ranger provided me a printed version of the revised map. It has 2012 in the lower right. The online version still has 2011 on the revised map. Other than the date being changed on the printed version, there were no other obvious changes. It may well that will be the case for a while given the budget cutting that recently went into effect.

    The ranger mentioned that there will be an insert in each of the new maps as printed, which – I am guessing – is like what I was given at the Sevierville GSMNP welcome center earlier in the day (see below).

    Last edited by JoeFred; 03-09-2013 at 01:38 AM.
    “Joe” Fred Turner

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