5 Tips for Hiking the Appalachian Trail
The Appalachian Trail
The Appalachian Trail is one of America’s most treasured gems. The trail that runs over 2,000 miles throughout 14 states is a footpath for the people that inspires millions to take a hike each year. Our hotel was created as a homage to not only the trail but also to all of the dreamers that worked to make the Appalachian Trail a reality. While staying with us, you’ll have the opportunity to learn about the history of the A.T, the different sections that you would experience on a thru-hike and immerse yourself in the beauty of the Appalachians. Our hope is that during your time with us, you’ll find yourself inspired to also explore the trail. That’s why we have put together five tips for hiking the Great Smoky Mountains section of the AT. The following tips will help you to have the best experience possible while at The Appy, in the Smokies, and on the trail.
Accessing The Appalachian Trail in the Great Smoky Mountains
You will find 71 miles of the Appalachian Trail within the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. The trail runs from Fontana Dam to Davenport Gap. During your stay at our Gatlinburg hotel, the best access points can be found on Newfound Gap Road. Newfound Gap parking area provides immediate access to the trail, as does the Clingmans Dome parking area when open. Clingmans Dome is also the highest point on the AT with an elevation of 6,643ft. Often you will find thru-hikers at both points hitching a ride into Gatlinburg to rest and resupply. If you’re a thru-hiker and coming into Gatlinburg for the night, we would love to have you as our guests as well and hear a few of the stories from the trail that you have to tell.
The Appalachian Trail and Shelter Life
If you’re staying with us before or after you set out on the trail, you’ll enjoy not only our amenities but also a few other features of The Appy Lodge. One of those features is that all of our guest rooms are named after shelters that you’ll find along the A.T. Six of those shelters are located in the Smoky Mountains. Many of the shelters are also accessible during day hikes as well and will give you the chance to check out the setup and how life would be in the shelter for the night. To stay in a shelter, you’ll need to acquire a permit from the Smoky Mountains backcountry office. One tip to note is that the only time tent or hammock camping is permitted along the A.T in the park is if you have a thru-hiker permit and your scheduled shelter is full. To be a thru-hiker in the park, you must be thru-hiking the entire Appalachian Trail or you must begin and end your hike fifty miles outside of the park and only travel on the A.T. Not ready to stay in a shelter? There’s also always the option of staying in one of our cozy shelters and explore the trail with day hikes!
Day Hikes on the Appalachian Trail in the Smoky Mountains
The Smoky Mountains offer numerous opportunities to experience the beauty of the Appalachian Trail during a day hike. Clingmans Dome offers a quick view from the highest section of the trail, as well as breathtaking views from the lookout tower and access to the trail for multiple day hikes. One of the most popular and stunning day hikes begins at the Newfound Gap parking area and takes you 4 miles out on the trail to Charlies Bunion. With a chance to hike along the higher elevations, check out a shelter and take in bucket list level views it’s a can’t miss hike! You’ll find many other ways to hop on the A.T for an adventure in the Smoky Mountains, but Clingmans and Newfound Gap are the most convenient locations when staying at our downtown Gatlinburg hotel.
An Appalachian Trail Sunrise and Sunset
The Smoky Mountains and the Appalachian Trail offer some of the most divine sunrise and sunset moments in the country. You can find these unforgettable moments miles into the trail at places like Charlies Bunion, Mount Cammerer, and Rocky Top. However, Newfound Gap and Clingmans Dome are often spots for unbelievable views of layers of ridges, color, and beauty. When planning your sunrise or sunset viewing, keep in mind that for the best colors and light you will want to arrive 30 minutes before the actual sunrise time and stay stary 30 minutes after sunset.
Experience The Appalachian Trail Prepared
The very best tip for making the most of your time on the Appalachian Trail and in the Smoky Mountains is simply just to be prepared. Before ever stepping on the trail, you can secure the best experience possible on your adventure by being ready for all that the trail will bring. Make sure that you have all needed supplies, including a Great Smoky Mountains National Park map. Pack everything that you’ll need for your tip, know the weather forecast for the trail and your destination, make sure the trail is accessible, know your trip itinerary and how it fits with your fitness level. Your safety and enjoyment while being our guest, is our number one priority. If you’re staying with us and need information for a specific hike or help to find a hike for you – please reach out to us. We would love to help you make memories that will last you a lifetime while visiting the Smokies and at The Appy.
Ready to plan that adventure? Visit The Appy Lodge to book a stay with us and learn more about our hotel and the Appalachian Trail.