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Appalachian Trail In NC
Spence Field to
Rocky Top, Silers Bald, Mt Buckley
Appalachian Trail GPS Tracks
Get the complete GPS Tracks for the AT in Great Smoky Mountains National Park for ONLY $1.97! This .gpx file includes waypoints for all trail shelters along this 72 mile stretch of trail and many AT parking areas. Use the BUY NOW button below and we'll send you the file via e-mail! Happy Hiking!
NOTE: Some trail relocation may have occurred, which may not be reflected with our GPS Tracks. The tracks are very close to the current trail.
This 16.1 mile of the Appalachian Trail features Rocky Top, Thunderhead Mountain, Silers Bald, Mount Buckley and Clingmans Dome. This section includes the highest point along the whole AT, located in front of the Clingmans Dome observation deck at 6625 feet.
There are three shelters located along this stretch of the Appalachian Trail. Horses are allowed on part of the AT along this section from Cold Spring Knob to Silers Bald. You may notice an increase of hikers as you approach Clingmans Dome. The parking area near Clingmans Dome is a very popular trailhead. The last 1.5 miles of trail in this section is above 6000 feet in elevation.
A Great Smoky Mountains sunset from Rocky Top
This section begins at Spence Field at the junction of the Bote Mountain Trail. At 1.1 miles the trail reaches 5447 foot Rocky Top. At 1.7 miles the trail reaches 5527 foot Thunderhead Mountain. You are hiking along a ridge in a remote section of the National Park, where you won't even find any other trails in the area.
At 6.2 miles you'll reach the Derrick Knob Shelter, built in 1961 and sleeps twelve with no privy. The shelter is located at the former location of Crede Hall's herder cabin. At 6.5 miles reach 4764 foot Sams Gap and the junction of the Greenbrier Ridge Trail. This trail travels 4.2 miles to the Middle Prong Trail and Lynn Camp Prong Trail.
Derrick Knob Shelter
At 8.6 miles the trail reaches 5180 foot Cold Spring Knob. At 8.9 miles the trail reaches the junction of the Miry Ridge Trail. This side trail travels 2.5 miles to the Lynn Camp Prong Trail and then another 2.5 miles to Jakes Gap. At Jakes Gap the trail ends at the junction of the Jakes Creek Trail and Panther Creek Trail. At 9.0 miles the trail reaches 4841 foot Buckeye Gap.
Silers Bald Shelter
At 11.6 miles the trail reaches Silers Bald Shelter. This shelter was originally built in 1961 and renovated in 2001. The shelter sleeps twelve and has no privy. This area was named for Jesse Siler, who grazed cattle here many years ago. Silers Bald is becoming more overgrown as the years go by, however it still offers views of Clingmans Dome and sunsets over Cove Mountain.
At 12.0 miles the trail reaches the junction with the Jonas Creek Trail on your right. This trail travels 1.7 miles to the Hazel Creek Trail, 2.4 miles to the Welch Ridge Trail and 6.5 miles to the Forney Creek Trail. The AT continues along the ridge and at 12.4 miles crosses an area known as the Narrows.
Double Spring Gap Shelter
At 13.3 miles reach the Double Spring Gap Shelter, built in 1963. This shelter sleeps twelve and has a privy. In 1980, two hikers were killed inside this shelter by a lightning strike. The AT now makes its ascent toward Clingmans Dome. The elevation at the shelter is 5488 feet.
Clingmans Dome observation tower from Mount Buckley
At 13.9 miles reach the junction of the Goshen Prong Trail that leads 4.4 miles to backcountry campsite 23 and then another 3.3 miles to the Little River Trail. At 15.6 miles reach 6580 foot Mount Buckley. At 15.7 miles reach the junction of the Clingmans Dome Bypass Trail near a rock outcrop. A great place to take a break. Views of the tower on Clingmans Dome as well as the normally crowded parking area are near by.
You may have already seen a few more people than you have anywhere else in the park. As you approach Clingmans Dome you'll start hear more voices. A side trail leads you to the bottom of the ramp of the observation tower, which affords 360 degree views when the mountain isn't shrouded in clouds. A bit further the trail is directly in front of the tower, which is the highest point anywhere along the whole 2180 mile AT. There is nothing to mark you are at the AT high point.
Looking at the tower from the AT's highest point
When I was on the trail in front of the tower, visitors to the tower were pointing at me saying 'Look, there's someone down there'. Pretty funny. I don't think they realized I was on the Appalachian Trail. If you look at the picture above, you may notice the folks looking at me.
This section ends a a few feet from here as the trail moves around the tower. There is a steep, but paved trail that leads 0.5 miles from the tower to a rather large parking area as well as rest rooms. There is parking for nearly 100 cars and the GPS coordinates are N35 33.409 W83 29.767 for those who have a GPS devise in their vehicle.
We offer the full GPS tracks of the 72 mile section of the Appalachian Trail in Great Smoky Mountain National Park for only $1.97 via a .gpx file. This file also includes waypoints for the shelters located along the trail as well as parking areas. A great tool to keep you on the trail or to make your own maps!
We recommend purchasing any of the following books for those looking for more information on hiking the Appalachian Trail in Great Smoky Mountain National Park:
Appalachian Trail Guide to Tennessee-North Carolina: 13th Edition
Exploring the Appalachian Trail: Georgia North Carolina Tennessee
Hiking Great Smoky Mountains National Park
Best Easy Day Hikes Great Smoky Mountains National Park
Hiking Trails of the Smokies
Trails Illustrated Great Smoky Mountains National Park
Trails Illustrated Great Smoky Mountains National Park Explorer
Hiking HOME PAGE
Mountains National Park
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