The township areas surrounding The Great Smoky Mountains in east Tennessee has become a magnet for all kinds of tourists. Day tourists that want to take a short nature hike and families that wish to camp in a lower campground for several days find all of the nearby attractions very appealing and convenient. However, if you’re a hiker looking for a great climb and a few days in some spectacular back country, then this could still be the place you’re looking for.
Beautiful flowing streams running down the mountains will provide you with breathtaking scenery. Trails that are challenging, yet not overwhelming are great for beginners and expert hikers alike. You’ll see amazing wildlife like a huge variety of birds, deer, maybe even some bears that may or may not have a good disposition! When you reach the top of your climb, you can see the wonder of why these are called The Great Smokies.
Back country camping and hiking in The Smokies is an wonderful experience that any seasoned backpacker won’t want to miss. If you wish to visit this national park and do some back country camping along with your hiking, there are rules and regulations to follow and you must make reservations in advance for campsites and shelters if you want to take advantage of those.
Planning Your Trip
It is suggested that you have your trip planned out so you can tell the park officials when you make your reservations. Make reservations up to one month in advance. Permits for back country camping in the Smokies are free. There are at least 20 designated locations around the park where you can pick up your permits. You can not get a back country camping permit online or through email, you must pick it up at a designated place. Check up on trail and road closures for the time when you will be making your trip.
If you choose to make reservations for one of the shelters along the trail, then you are only allowed to stay at that shelter for one night and you must move on. You also can not pitch tents at the shelters, but they are allowed at the campsites. No dogs are allowed on backcountry trails. If you choose to stay at one of the many campsites along the trails, then you can remain in one spot for up to three days.
You must hike several miles into the park before you get to designated campsites and shelters. If you venture off on your own too far, you can get lost and there could be danger from bears. People have gotten lost easily in this still wild back country. The old growth forest can be very dense and losing your way is a possibility.
You should also be prepared for swollen streams, bridge washouts, downed trees, poison plants like poison ivy and trail erosion in back country while you are hiking and camping. This means you should have quality and reliable equipment. If you are hiking for any distance, you will need a quality hiking tent, but if you are on an outing with the family, you will need a good family tent. These are just two example of being prepared correctly for your intended trip.
When Should You Go?
It might be hard for you to decide at what time of the year you want to do your camping in The Smokies. In the spring, flowers are in bloom and the scenery is beautiful. In the heat of the summer, there will be lots of people, so you might wish to choose a less crowed time if you are looking for a little more solitude. In the Fall you will enjoy a cornucopia of bright autumn colors as the leaves are changing. The views from the top are even more spectacular.
Trying to back country camp and hike when the weather is bad might be a deterrent for you, or it may not be. Although the park is open year round, it is still subject to road and trail closures. The winter can bring unexpected snow and ice into the Smokies and unless you are prepared for this kind of weather it is better to plan your back country camping in this park during more cooperative seasons. You can call (865) 436-1297 or (865) 436-1231 to get the latest updated information on back country hiking and camping in the park.