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Topic: What's the greenest, lushest part of GSMNP?, the southeast's Hoh / Bogachiel?< Next Oldest | Next Newest >
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LangdonGreene Search for posts by this member.

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PostIcon Posted on: May 09 2014, 1:53 pm  Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

One of the things my western Rocky Mountain friends don't understand, is why I enjoy backpacking in our southeastern mountains / river gorges every bit as much as I enjoy the Cascades or Sawtooths or Uintas or Glacier, etc.  But I love the lush, dense plant life of the rainforest!  (And I get a little perturbed at and indignant at many westerners' derisive references to the "viewless long green tunnel" of our mountains.)

So, I'm asking, as I try to experience more of GSM, what specific locations / trails do you think are the lushest, greenest, places around here?  

Occasionally I see photos of places in GSM (or nearby) that are so dense in greenery, moss covered trees etc, it reminds me a bit of the awesome forests of western Olympic, or the redwood coast of Northern Calif.  But I've still been to far too few of them....  

I tend to spend most of my time in the NC side, since it's nearer for me to drive to, plus I want to avoid the hordes of tourons swarming up there (I have never been to Cades Cove for precisely that fear).  

I do know that, topogrphically / meteoroligcally speaking, the section of GSM north of the divide / AT is *generally* wetter than the south portion -- but Baxter Creek is pretty dang awesome!

I'd love some recomendations.  No distance too far or strenuous for us.  :-)
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kevinumberger Search for posts by this member.

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PostIcon Posted on: May 09 2014, 4:10 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

baxter creek trail comes to mind......
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ashepabst Search for posts by this member.

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PostIcon Posted on: May 09 2014, 4:39 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

high elevation is gonna be your best bet. the eastern half of the park's AT section is pretty reliable for what you seek. i'd also recommend the Greenbrier area but it's not good for backpacking (deadend trails) unless you wanna bushwhack it. Baxter Creek is a good one.

you could fashion a big loop out of Big Creek -- Baxter Creek to Mt Sterling Ridge to Balsam Mountain Tr and back on the AT.


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kevinumberger Search for posts by this member.

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PostIcon Posted on: May 09 2014, 4:47 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

oh....another one...

the upper part of hazel creek trail is very lush.....
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kevinumberger Search for posts by this member.

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PostIcon Posted on: May 09 2014, 4:52 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

and if memory serves me right----sweat heifer creek trail...

that one can be done as a sorta loop...

park car at kephart prong---hitch ride up to newfound gap, hike at out to sweat heifer and go down to car......


and maybe the enloe creek area........
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PostIcon Posted on: May 10 2014, 9:54 am Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

Well, that is good to hear - you all mentioned trails that I'm familiar with or were already on my near-future 'To Do' list.  Nice to hear that about the Sweat Heifer / Kephart area, I was thinking of eventually doing a 30mile or so lollipop up Kephart and around Pecks, was wondering if Heifer was nice enough to bother making the loop down from Grassy Branch.  The photos I've seen from the Kephart shelter area looked promising.

I was just wondering whether anything in the Cades / Tremont / Elkmont / Roaring Fork area was so superior to other areas of the park, that I'd miss out if I continue to avoid that sector.  From what you guys mentioned, it sounds like the areas I like are just as good.  (I will probably still try to do a Middle Prong / Panther / Miry mini-loop/lollipop out of Tremont someday, since the photos I've seen of the falls through there look nice, but midweek to avoid the crowds.  Likewise, hitting the Three Forks & Goshen Prong areas by looping down from the AT, rather than in from Elkmont.)

I haven't been to the Greenbrier area at all yet, partly due to the lack of good backpacking routes, but from the photos I've seen, I have been wanting to get there badly, especially in spring.  I've considered trying to create a Greenbrier loop using manways to the AT from Ramsay or Porter, but from all reports, I don't think my wife would be up for the level of bushwhacking / scrambling involved.  I may do something from Orchard via Rainbow - LeConte - Brushy Mtn, then into / out of Porters, back along Grapevine.  

I have to admit, though, I am curious why the hordes all seem to flock to Cades & Elkmont...  I have zero interest in the settlement / history stuff, and I see elk in the rockies & pacific northwest.  If I can see the best of the Smokies without all the tourons, all the better.  But I know that sometimes braving the frontcountry is the price you have to pay for reaching the great stuff in the backcountry....
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PostIcon Posted on: May 10 2014, 1:14 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

they flock to Cades Cove because of the big open meadows that they keep mowed.  the meadow means that even the rolling couch potatoes --if i can borrow Walter's phrase-- can spot some wildlife and see some views of the mountains. there are still some great hikes in the area... you can find ya some mossy north facing slopes all over the park.

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PostIcon Posted on: May 12 2014, 5:49 am Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

as ashe mentioned----there are still some nice hikes in the cades cove area.....

spence field and gregory bald come to mind......

and yeah, the reason it gets crowded in the cove is for the drive thru factor...........you can see the mountains, the valley, and a ton of animals all from the safety of one's car....

but, it's still a pretty area and a gem of the park.......



QUOTE
I see elk in the rockies



the elk in the smokies are mostly in the cataloochee area, but some have gone as far as ocunalaftee and the field there........

there's also some in the hyatt ridge area as well......
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PostIcon Posted on: May 12 2014, 10:09 am Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

i heard Vesna mention recently that there's a lone bull Elk that migrates back and forth from Catalooch over into Greenbrier and Cosby and as far as 321. Also there are 2 that have taken up residence in Big Creek, she says.

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PostIcon Posted on: May 12 2014, 11:51 am Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

i wouldnt doubt it...

they are going to migrate eventually (and that's what the park is hoping for)...

myself-----i just know about the ones at hyatt and luftee as im not in the park that much anymore....
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PostIcon Posted on: May 12 2014, 1:34 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

can you imagine pushing over the state line ridge through spruce thickets with a big rack on your head?

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PostIcon Posted on: May 12 2014, 3:11 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE


(kevinumberger @ May 12 2014, 5:49 am)
QUOTE
as ashe mentioned----there are still some nice hikes in the cades cove area.....

spence field and gregory bald come to mind......

Yeah, that's true.  (I've always thought of Gregory / Parsons and the Spence / Russell areas as being TwentyMile or Fontana Dam hikes, since that's how I approach them.)

I guess for people on the TN side, or approaching the park from that direction, they think of those as Cades area hikes.  Makes sense.  They're shorter/easier from that side too (which is not necessarily a plus in my book.  :;): )
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PostIcon Posted on: May 12 2014, 6:40 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE


(kevinumberger @ May 12 2014, 5:49 am)
QUOTE
as ashe mentioned----there are still some nice hikes in the cades cove area.....

spence field and gregory bald come to mind......

and yeah, the reason it gets crowded in the cove is for the drive thru factor...........you can see the mountains, the valley, and a ton of animals all from the safety of one's car....

but, it's still a pretty area and a gem of the park.......



QUOTE
I see elk in the rockies



the elk in the smokies are mostly in the cataloochee area, but some have gone as far as ocunalaftee and the field there........

there's also some in the hyatt ridge area as well......

Yeah they are at Ocunalaftee pretty much every evening.  

If you want a nice hike with views, try Noland Divide from Clingman's south to Deep Creek.


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PostIcon Posted on: May 12 2014, 8:10 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

The area between Tremont and Elkmont is very wet and green. Miry Ridge was in horrible shape last time I was through there though.

I think Grapeyard Ridge between the motor nature trail road and Greenbrier would be exactly what you are looking for.
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PostIcon Posted on: May 13 2014, 12:59 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

I'll give another recommendation for Baxter Creek Trail. I hiked there for the first time last weekend and was blown away by the greenery and lushness at all elevations on that hike. We were hiking downhill and were in pretty steady rain for the last half of the hike, which made it seem that much more lush and verdant.

Here's a few pictures:








I don't have firsthand experience with the other locations, but can definitely vouch for Baxter Creek.

Good to see someone appreciating the lush vegetation and ecology of the area; the Southern Appalachians are an amazing area but some people unfortunately miss their context and write them off as too small to be "real mountains" or "boringly green".


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PostIcon Posted on: May 14 2014, 3:50 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE


(bad knees @ May 12 2014, 6:40 pm)
QUOTE
If you want a nice hike with views, try Noland Divide from Clingman's south to Deep Creek.

That's a section of the park we haven't really explored much yet, but we'll be backpacking 4 days next week very near that area (just a bit east of there anyway): from NFGap west on AT, to Fork Ridge, then down into Deep Creek, Martins Gap, Indian Creek, up over Deeplow Gap (wife wants to see Little Creek Falls), up Mingus Creek north to Newton Bald, north up Thomas Divide and then out Kanati Fork.  

markweth, those are great photos!  See, that's what I'm talking about in my original post.  How dare people say our Smokies aren't "real" mountains!  I grew up in the Rockies, and I still love going out there (usually at least once a year, this year doing the Teton Crest) but the first time I experienced rainforest, I was blown away and fell in love.
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PostIcon Posted on: May 14 2014, 6:21 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

in that area you might consider Forney Creek. i did the upper half of Forney as an overnighter a few summers back and can tell you that it's a wild ride. several tricky stream fords are involved, FYI.

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PostIcon Posted on: May 14 2014, 7:19 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic.  Ignore posts   QUOTE

The upper part of forney creek is nice and one can also (via side trail) a really nice artifact of times past....

However, at this time of year----based on langdons orginal lushiness----I'd go with fork ridge....

That area is really green and the wildflowers should be poppin....

There is a creek crossin right at deep creek and campsite 53 but it's easy.....

And a few other little ones down before martins gap...

And kanati fork is pretty nice...

Doubt you'll see many people on fork ridge and deep low gap trails..


Either way though is a good trip.......
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