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How to best spend 2 days in Smoky mountain in mid Oct

Indianapolis...
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How to best spend 2 days in Smoky mountain in mid Oct

Hi,

We are planning a visit to Smoky mountain on 10th and 11th Oct. Our plan is as follows:

Oct 9: reach Lexington

Oct 10: Start early morning and reach Smoky. Camp there

Oct 11: In Smoky (want to go rafting on this day)

Oct 12: Start back early morning after sunrise

Any advice on how to plan the trip is most welcome. We are interested in mosty hiking and rafting. Also,

a reason to choose October was to see Fall colors.

Which trails should we take, where should we stay on 10th and 11th?

Boston...
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1. Re: How to best spend 2 days in Smoky mountain in mid Oct

Hello! Sounds like a fun trip.

Rafting is at the Pigeon River, in Cherokee National Forest just northeast of Great Smoky Mountains National Park, and the Nantahala River, fed by the cold waters of Lake Fontana, dammed by the tallest dam east of the Mississippi, whose rafting centre is located on Mountain Waters Scenic Byway about twenty minutes from Bryson City, which is twenty minutes from the Oconaluftee Entrance of the national park.

If you raft the Pigeon it's be best to stay in Cosby, Big Creek, or Cataloochee. If you raft the Nantahala it's best to stay in Tsali Recreation Area or Deep Creek (the latter is the national park entrance just north of Bryson City). All of these camp grounds will keep you away from the crazy leaf peeping weekend crowds.

Which river do you plan to raft?

Indianapolis...
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2. Re: How to best spend 2 days in Smoky mountain in mid Oct

Hi,

thanks for the info. I want to mostly hike and do the rafting in between. So which one of these raftings would be better, considering that we might want to go rafting after a good hike. What are the trails we must take (easy to moderate trails) to best appreciate Smokies given the time frame?

However if rafting in one of these rivers offers significantly better view than the other, we would surely go for that.

Thanks

Boston...
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3. Re: How to best spend 2 days in Smoky mountain in mid Oct

Rafting usually goes on in the morning, so your hike would probably be afterwards, not before. Both the Nantahala and the Pigeon could be done in the same day as a hike. To my knowledge (I have only rafted the Pigeon) the Pigeon River is the only one with views upward at surrounding mountains. Great views.

I think I lean toward suggesting the Pigeon and camping at Cataloochee Camp Ground (be sure to reserve early) since Cosby Camp Ground will be closed at the time of your visit. You could take I-40 to Cove Creek Road and that over the Cataloochee Divide into Cataloochee Valley. That day you could hike the Cataloochee Divide Trail (however long you want) or the Boogerman Trail (seven miles) as well as check out the valley itself. On your full day you could drive to the rafting centre near the Big Creek Entrance via Mt. Sterling Road, then hike to Midnight Hole (good swimming opportunity) and Mouse Creek Falls (four miles round trip). The trail head for that is in Big Creek.

florida
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4. Re: How to best spend 2 days in Smoky mountain in mid Oct

I believe the Nantahala River is closed to rafting starting October 10th. They are releasing vast amounts of water to lower the lake level to work on the dam.

5. Re: How to best spend 2 days in Smoky mountain in mid Oct

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