Parking on the TN/NC Appalachian Trail

Section 17 - Davenport Gap (TN 32/NC 284) to Newfound Gap (TN 71/US 441) Displayed from North to South

Maintained by:
  Smoky Mountains Hiking Club http://www.smhclub.org/ mark.shipley @ townoffarragut.org Davenport Gap, TN/NC to Wesser, NC at US 19


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Mile
Marker
 
Hiker Rated
Parking Safety
Directions Comments Number of Vehicles Map   &  
Weather  
Source
0.0
Davenport Gap
  Poor            Great




From I-40 eastbound take Exit 451 in Tennessee. Go about 0.1 miles along the exit road, then turn right on Tobes Creek Road and cross the Pigeon River. On the south side of the bridge, turn left. This road loops around and reaches Waterviille Road. Go right here for two miles to the intersection with NC 1397 (Mt. Sterling Road). Note: The Big Creek Ranger station is straight ahead at this intersection. Go right on Mt. Sterling Road for 1.2 miles. The trail crossing is right at the state line. There is parking for 5-6 cars a bit further on the Tennessee side.

See below for the route from I-40 westbound

The marker on the attached map is at the trail crossing. The Google street view at this point is remarkably bad. See pictures for Section 16 for better views of the Davenport Gap area.

Note: This parking area is the site of frequent vandalism to parked cars. Overnight parking is extremely unwise. Secure parking is available at the Big Creek Ranger station. 08/17/14
5-6 1
dlcul @ conncoll.edu
The attached map is similar to the previous one except that the marker indicates the location of the parking area. Rotate the street view to see the parking area. Note the warning in the previous listing warning about the parking situation in Davenport Gap. Safer parking is at the Big Creek Ranger Station 1.4 miles away. See mile 1.9. 08/17/14 Ample at ranger station 1
dlcul @ conncoll.edu
From I-40 westbound, after crossing NC/TN state border, go 0.7 miles - take Exit 451 (Waterville Road); at end of ramp turn left on Green Corner Road – go under I-40, Green Corner road curves to the right. [Note: Begin 2 way traffic with eastbound I-40 eastbound Exit 451 traffic.] Turn left on Tobes Creek Road; turn left immediately after crossing the Pigeon River (this road loops around and reaches Waterville Road) Turn right on Waterville Road, go 2.0 miles; Turn right on Mt. Sterling Road (NC 1397), go 1.2 miles. The trail crossing is right at the state line. There is parking for 5-6 cars a bit further on the Tennessee side. 08/04/14 1
cfhartley @ columbiabasic.net
1.9
Chestnut Branch Trail to Big Creek Ranger Station
  Poor            Great



 
This SIDE trail begins near the Big Creek Ranger Station. To reach the ranger station follow driving instructions in Mile 0.0 as far as the intersection with NC 1397 (Mt. Sterling Road). Go straight ahead here and enter the national park. (Note: Google map says to bear slight left at this intersection.) The ranger station is about a quarter mile further on the right. The marker on the attached map indicates the entrance to the ranger station. I have hiked this trail but will use the following information abstracted from 'Hiking Trails of the Smokies', 2nd ed. The Chestnut Branch trail is a SIDE trail which leads 2.1 miles to the AT. This would provide a good alternative if you are hiking from the ranger station. Via Mt. Sterling Road to Davenport Gap and then the AT to the junction with this trail it is about 3.2 miles. The elevation gain via the Chestnut Branch Trail is about 1500 feet. The trailhead is approximately 100 yards from the parking lot for the ranger station south along the road to the Big Creek trailhead. A sign immediately before a bridge crossing Chestnut Branch indicates the trailhead. The coordinates at the junction with the AT are 36.7674 -83.1334. 08/16/14 Ample at ranger station 1
dlcul @ conncoll.edu
2.8
Lower Mt. Cammerer Trail
  Poor            Great



 
This trailhead for this trail is the same as for the Low Gap Trail (Mile 7.3), name the hiker parking lot in Cosby Campground. Following information was abstracted from 'Hiking Trails of the Smokies', 2nd ed. I have not hiked this trail though I have seen the two ends of it. From the hiker parking lot at Cosby Campground See Mile 7.3 (Low Gap North) follow the Low Gap Trail for 0.4 miles then turn left on the Mt. Cammerer Trail. From here it is 7.5 miles to the AT. Given its length this is more of an alternate trail than an access. It follows around the base of Mt Cammerer so a lot of climbing is eliminated. Total distance is 7.9 miles. The AT junction is 1200 feet higher than the trail head, but there is quite a bit of up and down along the route. Coordinates at the AT junction are 35.7653 -83.1441 . 08/16/14 1
dlcul @ conncoll.edu
7.3
Low Gap Trail to Cosby Campground
  Poor            Great



 
From Gatlinburg, follow US 321 southbound (compass east) for 18 miles. Go right on TN 32 for 1.2 miles. When TN 32 starts to curve to the east, go right on the park road to Cosby Campground. Continue about 2.0 miles. The hiker parking lot is on the left across from the campground registration booth. The marker on the attached map indicates the approximate location.


Alternatively Take Exit 440 off I-40 in Newport, TN and go west on US 321/ TN73. In about 2.5 miles at the intersection with TN 32, go left. In 6.7 miles US 321/TN 73 go right. Continue straight ahead on TN 32 for 1.2 miles to the park road to Cosby Campground. Turn right and go 2 miles to the hiker parking lot.


Note: Any Parking Safety comments should be for this lot and not the alternate access in the next listing.
Following information was abstracted from 'Hiking Trails of the Smokies', 2nd ed. The Low Gap Trail is a 2.9 mile long SIDE trail which leads from the hiker parking lot to meet the AT in Low Gap. The elevation gain is about 2000 feet. Note: There are many side trails to the AT in Great Smoky Mountain National Park. However the distance between a road and the AT is large for most of them I'll only list those eight miles or less. If I you think another access trail should be included, please submit it. Coordinates for the intersection with AT are 35.7375 -83.1812. 12/13/09 Several 1
dlcul @ conncoll.edu
The trail distance to Low Gap can be shortened by driving to the back of the campground to the point indicated by the marker on the attached map. However this is for drop-off only. Parking here is only for people staying in the adjacent campsites. A more detailed map of the campground can be found at: http://www.campingroadtrip.com/DesktopModules/CRT_Campground_Media/FilePipe.aspx?id=8/15/2014%206:12:57%20PM&memberid=2285&rnd=227&file=fd5bd53e-fa03-482d-ac5d-08f2de27a274.pdf The trail access to the Low Gap trail is well marked. Follow a gated road north to a T intersection, then go left. The Low Gap Trail is reached shortly after crossing Cosby Creek. 08/16/14 Zero. Dropoff only. 1
dlcul @ conncoll.edu
7.3
Low Gap Trail South
  Poor            Great



 
See directions to the trailhead for the Chestnut Branch Trail near the Big Creek Ranger Station. From the ranger station continue straight ahead for 0.7 miles to the trail which is indicated by the marker on the attached map. The satellite view on the attached map shows parking just south of the trail head.





I have not hiked this route or checked out the trailheads. I have been to Low Gap and have seen the intersection with the AT. Following information was abstracted from 'Hiking Trails of the Smokies', 2nd ed.

Low Gap can also be approached from the south. From the Big Creek Trailhead, follow the Big Creek Trail west. In 5.3 miles the Low Gap Trail is reached in an area known as Walnut Bottom. The elevation gain to this point is 1200 feet. Turn right (north) on the Low Gap Trail. This climbs another 1100 feet in 2.5 miles to Low Gap and the AT. The northbound AT goes right, the southbound left. Given its length (7.8 miles) this route is really more of an alternate to the route from Cosby Campground. 08/16/14
12-15 1
dlcul @ conncoll.edu
11.9
Snake Den Ridge Trail
  Poor            Great



 
Parking for this trail is the same as for the Low Gap Trail (Mile 7.3), namely the hiker parking lot at Cosby Campground. I have not hiked any of the trails between the Low Gap Trail and Newfound Gap. I have also not checked out the trailheads. Following information was abstracted from 'Hiking Trails of the Smokies', 2nd ed.



. From the hiker parking lot at Cosby Campground walk into camground. There is a sign at the trailhead near Site B-35. The trail initially follows a gated road. From here it is 5.3 miles to the AT. The trail climbs 2900 feet in elevation. At the AT the northbound trail goes left, the southbound right. Coordinates at the AT are 35.7267 -83.2379.

A more detailed map of the Cosby Campground is available at A more detailed map of the campground can be found at: http://www.campingroadtrip.com/DesktopModules/CRT_Campground_Media/FilePipe.aspx?id=8/15/2014%206:12:57%20PM&memberid=2285&rnd=227&file=fd5bd53e-fa03-482d-ac5d-08f2de27a274.pdf
08/16/14
1
dlcul @ conncoll.edu
15.5
Balsam Mountain Trail
  Poor            Great



 
From the intersection of the Blue Ridge Parkway and US 441 near he southern entrance to the park, follow the latter northbound (compass east) about 9 miles to Mile 458. Turn onto and follow the Heintooga Ridge Road. This goes north passing the Balsam Mountain Campground and ending at the Heintooga Overlook 9 miles from the parkway. Continue on the one-way gravel Balsam Mountain Road for 8.4 miles to the trailhead for the Balsam Mountain Trail in Pin Oak Gap. From the satellite view on the attached lap, there appears to be a small dirt parking lot at the trailhead. In spite of its length (10.1 miles), this Balsam Mountain Trail ( a SIDE TRAIL) is the shortest route from a road to to this particular point on the AT which is almost in the middle of this 30 mile AT section. The elevation difference between Pin Oak Gap and the AT is only about 1500 feet. Only 500 feet of that are gained in the last six miles. At the junction, the southbound AT goes left, the northbound goes right. Coordinates at the AT are 35.7084 -83.2563. Coordinates of the Pink Oak Gap trailhead are 35.6337 -83.1790 4-5 1
dlcul @ conncoll.edu
27.1
Dry Sluice Gap Trail
  Poor            Great



 
From Cherokee, NC, take US 441 north 6 miles, entering the National Park. The entrance to Smokemont Campground is on the right. Cross the bridge and go north into the campground. The trailhead for the Bradley Fork Trail is at the end of Campground Loop D. There are parking spaces at the trailhead. See satellite view on the attached map. The marker indicates the trailhead.
The Bradley Fork Trail is actually an old road. Follow this 4.0 miles to the intersection with the Cabin Flats Trail at a traffic turnaround. The elevation gain to this point is about 600 feet. Follow the Cabin Flats Trail straight ahead on an extension of the road. In about 0.3 miles go left on the Dry Sluice Gap Trail for 4.2 miles to meet the AT. The trail climbs to an elevation of 5700 feet, an elevation gain of 2800 feet from the Bradley Fork Trail. The last half mile is a descent to the AT at an elevation of 5500 feet. The northbound AT goes right, the southbound left. Coordinates at the At are 35.6382 -83.3690 .12/20/09 10-12 1
dlcul @ conncoll.edu
See directions to the Kephart Prong Trailhead (Mile 29.6). A somewhat shorter route to this point on the AT is from the trailhead for the Kephart Prong Trail on US 441. Follow this 2.0 miles to the Kephart Prong Shelter. From there take ther Grassy Branch Trail 2.5 miles to the Dry Sluice Gap Trail. Turn left and follow the Dry Sluice Gap Trail 1.3 miles to the AT. Total distance 5.8 miles with an elevation differential of 3000 feet. 12/20/09
dlcul @ conncoll.edu
29.6
Sweat Heifer Creek Trail
  Poor            Great



 
Drive south on US 441 8.7 miles from Newfound Gap or north on US 441 3.8 miles from the entrance to Smokemont Campground. There are paved parking pull-offs on both side of the road. There should be a large foot bridge over the Oconalufee River. The marker on the attached indicates the trailhead. Rotate the street view to see the parking and the bridge. Since this point on the AT is only 1.7 miles from Newfound Gap, this is probably not a very useful access.
The Kephart Prong trail starts by crossing the footbridge. Follow this Follow this trail 2.0 miles from the trailhead. This climbs about 700 feet in the two miles. Go left on the Sweat Heifer Creek Trail. Climb 2200 feet in 3 .7 miles to reach the AT. Total distance is 5.7 miles. Southbound AT is left, northbound is right. Coordinates of the AT at the intersection are 35.6213 -83.4036. 12/20/09
10-15 1
dlcul @ conncoll.edu
31.3
Newfound Gap
  Poor            Great




From Gatlinburg, TN take US 441 south for 16 miles to Newfound Gap. From Cherokee, NC follow US 421 north for 19 miles to the Gap. There is a very large parking lot on the south side of the road. Rotate the street view on the attached map from east to south to see this lot. US 441 is the only main road that crosses Great Smokiy Mountain National Park. The AT crosses the highway here. Rotate the street view to the east to see approximately where the northbound trail to section 17 leaves the lot. The monument on the left celebrates FDR's dedication of the park. The trail starts near the large pine tree just to the right of the monument. Rotate the street view to the north to see the southbound trail to Section 18 leaving the opposite side of the highway. 08/15/14 Ample 1
at @ rohland.org

This section is also described as Section 1 in the "Appalachian Trail Guide to North Carolina-Georgia"
1 If the MAP, WEATHER or PARKING SAFETY BUTTONS do not work for you, have your browser permit pop-ups for this site.


Section 17 Pictures


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Page last updated: 9/19/2016 3:21:47 PM