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How long is needed for a good GSM trip?

Antrim, United...
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How long is needed for a good GSM trip?

I am going cross eyed reading all of the links about GSM. I reckon I'm going to have to look for a Lonely Planet or similar to help me!!!

Is a week too long in GSM, I read the Q&As which gave a good itinerary for 3 days, but seemed to suggest that it was still just seeing the highlights.

We enjoy short hikes - I'm not in to one big full day hike but don't mind multiple short ones! We also love the wildlife - no real bears in Ireland!

We are likely to come over for 3 weeks, so what other National or State Parks are the must sees in Tennessee, North or South Carolina?

Thanks

Boston...
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1. Re: How long is needed for a good GSM trip?

With three days you're just touching on the highlights. I would give it at least a week; maybe more. GSM is the only national park in Tennessee and the Carolinas, though if you go north to Virginia via the Blue Ridge Parkway there's Shenandoah. However, there's plenty in the TN/NC/SC area to fill three weeks. North and south of the park there are Cherokee, Pigsah, and Nantahala National Forests which I have little experience with but still are worth some time exploring. Other parks include Big South Fork, Frozen Head, Fall Creek Falls, Caesar something, Shining Rock Wilderness, many smaller parks all around. The Chattanooga area offers tons of cool parks like Audubon Acres, Cloudland Canyon, Little River Canyon, the Tennessee River Gorge, the river park, and lots of historical stuff involving the Indians and the Civil War. I would probably spend a week or more in the Smokies, a few days exploring the North Carolina mountains, and a few days exploring the Chattanooga area. You could raft on the Occoe on the way from NC to Chattanooga.

Kristian

Lafayette, LA
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2. Re: How long is needed for a good GSM trip?

I would have stayed 2 weeks if I would have known better. We just got back form a 7 night stay at the GSMNP. There is so much to do, that we only had time to see one show at night. The reason is that it does not get dark until around 9pm at this time and we were in the park most of the time, and before we knew it, it was 8 or 8:30! We had a blast. I will be posting a trip report as soon as we get unpacked, then it will be time to focus on the next trip!

Heart of it all
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3. Re: How long is needed for a good GSM trip?

Check out the forum on here from June 1, 2008. Someone from the UK asked almost the same thing and there are lots of suggestion that were replied back to him (or her). There is SO much to do there.

Tn
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4. Re: How long is needed for a good GSM trip?

Needed for a good trip? Any trip to the mountains is good even if just a day but stay as long as you can!

You will not want to leave!

leftcoast
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5. Re: How long is needed for a good GSM trip?

I'd suggest a MINIMUM of three full days, more if you want to see some of the further reaches of the park, (like Catloochee, which can take the better part of a day to get to and see depending on where you're staying), or a bit of the Blue Ridge Parkway. A week wouldn't be too much

I've been going to to the Smokies for 25 years, almost every year, sometimes several times a year, and I still haven't seen it all.

Antrim, United...
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6. Re: How long is needed for a good GSM trip?

Just wanted to say thanks to everyone for their inspiration. We are booked to stay in the Smokies for 7 days. Here's hoping for lots of great short hikes (<2hrs x 2 per day is plenty for me!!) but loads and loads of wild life viewing - it's amazing to see bears in the wild!

Any other highlights or must sees very much appreciated

leftcoast
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7. Re: How long is needed for a good GSM trip?

I'd suggest that you visit www.smokiestore.org and acquire one or more of their books that cover day hikes. Try "The Best Short Hikes in the Great Smoky Mountains" by Kenneth Wise and James Andrews.

Some half day hikes I'd recommend

Abrams Falls

Spruce Flat Falls

Grotto Falls

Andrews Bald

Alum Cave Bluff

Chimney Tops (short but steep)

There are many others to consider....there are a couple of blog sites that cover some of these hikes and others in detail.

Enjoy your trip.

leftcoast
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8. Re: How long is needed for a good GSM trip?

Sorry, I missed a 's' in the previous link:

Hiking books on the Smokies are available from the Great Smoky Mountains Association:

www.smokiesstore.org

Birmingham, AL
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9. Re: How long is needed for a good GSM trip?

If you want to do a bit if everything, 7 days is good. Yes, you could stay all three weeks and not run out of stuff to do, but I would think you'd wnat to see more of the region than just GSMNP.

That said, here are some of our favorite "short hikes". All of them are easy except Grotto Falls, which is between easy and moderate.

Grotto Falls- about midway down the Roaring Fork Motor Trail (a breathtakingly beautiful driving trail with marked POIs along the way.) The hike takes about two hours if you spend any time at the Falls. Great place to walk under the falls, and great photos.

Mingo Falls- NC side, near Oconaluftee Visitor Center entrance (Cherokee). Very pretty.

Deep Creek- also on NC side at Bryson City. Easy trail-mostly flat with three waterfalls. Bryson City fun to stroll too.

Limberlost- if you add Shenandoah (in western VA- Skyline Drive) NP to your trip. Easy flat (accessible)trail with nice flora & fauna. We have seen bears- a little too close for comfort- while walking this trail in Summer.

If you are over in the Summer, be sure you leave time for a whitewater rafting trip. we like the nantahala, but there are many choices in the area.

Have fun!

Cullowhee, North...
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10. Re: How long is needed for a good GSM trip?

I could make an iternary that could consume all 3 weeks here in the mountains. There are many day hikes in the park, there is boating in the park on Lake Fontana, there are day hikes along the Blue Ridge Parkway between here and Asheville. There are a ton of waterfalls in Jackson, Haywood,Transylvaniand Macon counties between the Smokies, Pisgah and Nantahala National Forests.

on the TN side I would suggest hikes to Grotto and or Rainbow Falls along Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail. I would suggest a day at Cades Cove, the Chimney Tops.

On the NC side, a day hiking to Midnight Hole and swimming then the afternoon/evening elk watching at Cataloochee

Hikes along Deep Creek and maybe tubing there.

There are some short hikes off of Balsam Mountain along the Flat Creek trail.

You can go white water rafting on the Nantahala River just outside of Bryson City.

I would drive the BRP north until you get to the Shinning Rock Wilderness Area of the Pisgah (maybe an hour north) and you can explore this treeless grassy bald of 6,000 footers and the Graveyard Fields and waterfalls there.

I would spend 4-5 days or so on the TN side, maybe 4 days on the NC side and then head north along the Blue Ridge Parkway to perhaps as far as Boone. You would cover the entire crest of the Pisgah, the highest point east of the Mississippi at Mount Mitchell State Park, there is the Southern Highlands Guild along the BRP near Asheville for real southern Appalachain arts and crafts.

There is a ton to see and do here and perhaps you will get a taste of it and maybe want to come back for more.

Have Fun...

Bob

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