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National Geographic Trails Illustrated Map for the Great Smoky Mountains: Contains detailed topo info, clearly marked and named trails, recreational points of interest, and navigational aids.



































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 Benton MacKaye Trail in Great Smoky Mountains National Park

The Benton MacKaye Trail travels through some of the most remote and beautiful backcountry in Georgia, Tennessee and North Carolina. From Springer Mountain in Georgia, to Davenport Gap in the northeastern corner of Great Smoky Mountains National Park, the trail runs for nearly 300 miles. Along the way it passes through eight federally designated Wilderness and Wilderness Study Areas.

Benton MacKaye TrailThe trail is named for Benton MacKaye, the forester, conservationist, and co-founder of the Wilderness Society who originally envisioned this route for the Appalachian Trail. In 1979 the Benton MacKaye Trail Association was organized to build and maintain MacKaye's chosen route along the western crest of the Blue Ridge Mountains. Twenty-six years later, on July 16th, 2005, the Benton MacKaye Trail (BMT) was officially opened during a ceremony at Mud Gap, just southwest of the Smokies.

The BMT enters the Great Smoky Mountains at the Twentymile Ranger Station on the southwestern corner of the Park. It quickly rises to cross the Appalachian Trail near the Shuckstack Fire Tower before descending again to the shores of Fontana Lake. After following the lake for more than 27 miles the trail begins to climb again, eventually passing over Noland Divide and Newton Bald, before making a quick descent back down to the Smokemont Campground. From the campground the trail begins climbing once more, first taking hikers past Chasteen Creek Cascade on its way up to Hyatt Ridge. The trail then briefly drops down to Beech Gap before making the long climb up to Balsam High Top, and then onto the highest point along the entire trail at 5842-foot Mt. Sterling. From there the trail makes a sharp descent down to Big Creek, before eventually meeting up again with the Appalachian Trail at Davenport Gap.

Benton MacKaye TrailWithin the Park, the total mileage for the BMT is roughly 97 miles. The trail is marked with a white diamond trail marker with the words "Benton MacKaye Trail" on a green background. (on the map to the right, the BMT is marked in red, while the A.T. appears in yellow)

There are only 5 access points for the trail in the Smokies: Twentymile Ranger Station, Lakeview Drive (a.k.a. the Road to Nowhere), US 441 / Smokemont Campground, Straight Fork Road, and at Big Creek/Davenport Gap.

Below are some routing details for the BMT in the Great Smoky Mountains:

 Location Incremental Miles Cumulative Mileage Elevation
20 Mile Ranger Station / Enter Park 0.0 0.0 1334
Wolf Ridge Trail Jct 0.5 0.5 1459
Campsite 93 1.2 1.7 1850
Long Hungry Trail Jct 1.4 3.1 2363
Lost Cove Trail Jct. / Sassafras Gap 1.9 5.0 3600
Campsite 91 2.0 7.0 2030
Lakeshore Trail Jct 0.7 7.7 1839
Campsite 90 0.5 8.2 1760
Eagle Creek Trail 0.5 8.7 1734
Campsite 88 3.0 11.7 1950
Campsite 86 1.0 12.7 1680
Hazel Creek Trail 0.4 13.1 1700
Campsite 81 3.5 16.6 1800
Campsite 77 4.2 20.8 1800
Campsite 76 4.6 25.4 1770
Campsite 98 2.5 27.9 1720
Campsite 74 6.5 34.4 1720
Whiteoak Branch Trail 1.0 35.4 2012
Goldmine Loop 1.2 36.6 2144
Tunnel Bypass Trail 0.1 36.7 2160
Tunnel 0.3 37.0 2320
Lakeview Drive 0.3 37.3 2079
Noland Creek Trail Jct 0.5 37.8 1800
Campsite 65 1.3 39.1 2040
Campsite 64 2.8 41.9 2540
Campsite 63 1.4 43.3 2920
Campsite 62 1.3 44.6 3160
Campsite 61 1.5 46.1 3560
Pole Creek Road Jct 1.0 47.1 4243
Deep Creek Trail Jct 3.3 50.4 2459
Campsite 56 0.3 50.7 2405
Martins Gap Trail Jct. Camp 57  0.4 51.1 2400
Sunkota Ridge Trail Jct 1.5 52.6 3394
Thomas Divide Trail Jct 4.9 57.5 4765
Newton Bald Trail Jct 0.4 57.9 4959
Campsite 52 0.1 58.0 5000
Newfound Gap Road Jct 5.2 63.2 2184
Smokemont Campground 0.3 63.5 2180
Bradley Fork Trail Jct 0.3 63.8 2180
Chasteen Creek Trail Jct 2.2 66.0 2300
Campsite 50  0.1 66.1 2360
Campsite 48 2.0 68.1 3320
Hughes Ridge Trail Jct 1.9 70.0 4700
Enloe Creek Trail Jct 0.4 70.4 4800
Campsite 47 2.5 72.9 3620
Hyatt Ridge Trail Jct 1.1 74.0 4400
Beech Gap Trail Jct 1.7 75.7 4900
Straight Fork Road Jct 2.8 78.5 3100
Beech Gap Trail Jct 0.3 78.8 3100
Balsam Mt. Trail Jct 2.5 81.3 5069
Laurel Gap Shelter 1.7 83.0 5490
Mt. Sterling Ridge Trail Jct 0.3 83.3 5500
Mt. Sterling Trail Jct 5.3 88.6 5679
Baxter Creek Trail Jct. Camp 38  0.3 88.9 5820
Big Creek Road Jct / Big Cr Campground 6.1 95.0 1700
Davenport Gap / Exit Nat'l Park 1.8 96.8 2000


Additional Resources:

Great Smoky Mountains National Park requires all backpackers to stay in designated campsites and shelters while camping in the backcountry. The park now requires a permit and advance reservations for all backcountry camping as well. As of 2013 the national park began charging a fee to camp in the backcountry. For additional information on reserving a campsite or shelter, please click here. For more general information on camping in the Smokies, please click here.

For more information on the Benton MacKaye Trail, please click here.

The BMT can be combined with the Appalachian Trail in the Smokies to make several long loop hikes. You can click here for more information on hiking the A.T. in the Smokies.

National Geographic Trails Illustrated Map for the Smoky Mountains

Sectional Maps: Western Smokies / Eastern Smokies

Backcountry Rules and Regulations for the Smokies

Campsite and Shelter information (GPS waypoints, maps, etc.)

Temporary road, campsite and shelter closures, and water issues

Local Climate and Weather

Bears in the Smokies

Appalachian Trail Shuttle Services

AWOL on the Appalachian Trail

Hiking Gear and Apparel