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Hiking Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Covers 82 hikes in the Smokies. Includes photos, trail maps, elevation profiles and quick reference trail highlights.

Mt. Cammerer

Trail Features: Panoramic Views, History mount-cammerer-tower
Trail Location: Cosby
Roundtrip Length: 12.0 Miles
Total Elevation Gain: 2470 Feet
Avg. Elev Gain / Mile: 412 Feet
Highest Elevation: 4928 Feet
Trail Difficulty Rating: 16.94 (strenuous)
Parking Lot Latitude 35.75195
Parking Lot Longitude -83.20590

Directions to Trailhead:

At the junction of 441 and 321 in Gatlinburg (Light 3), turn to travel eastbound on 321/73 for 18.2 miles until the road dead-ends into Highway 32. Turn right towards Cosby and drive 1.2 miles to the park entrance. Turn right into the park and drive another 3 miles to the Cosby Campground. The hike to the summit of Mount Cammerer begins from the Low Gap Trailhead, located at the back of the section B area of the campground.

Trail Description:

This hike to Mt. Cammerer begins from the Low Gap Trailhead in the Cosby Campground. Although it's a roundtrip hike of 12 miles, it's still the shortest and most commonly used route to the summit of the 4928-foot mountain.

From the trailhead hikers will climb Low Gap Trail for three long miles before reaching the Appalachian Trail. This is a steep and relentless climb that traverses over several switchbacks, while taking hikers through a beautiful, mature hardwood forest as they proceed up the Cosby Creek valley.

mount-cammererAt the Appalachian Trail junction hikers should turn left to continue towards the Mount Cammerer Trail. Along the early portions of the Appalachian Trail you'll continue climbing, however, the terrain isn't quite as steep as the Low Gap Trail. Hikers will cross over a grassy ridge that offers views of the Cosby Valley, Snake Den Ridge, and Inadu Knob, as well as several fine places to take a break before turning onto the rugged spur trail that leads to the summit of Mt. Cammerer. This spur is slightly more than a half-mile long, is fairly level, but does involve some rock scrambling as you follow the narrow ridge out to the fire tower. Take your time and watch your step as you proceed along this stretch of trail.

At 4928 feet in elevation, the summit of Mt. Cammerer sits on the edge of a rocky outcropping overlooking the Pigeon River Gorge. On a clear day the views are simply awesome; some even say the best in the park. For an even better vantage point, step up to the deck of the stone fire tower. This "western" style tower, which was fully restored in 1995, provides hikers with outstanding 360-degree views. Look in any direction and see row upon row of mountains.

The mountain directly across the gorge, with the white aviation tower at the top, is 4263-foot Snowbird Mountain. Below you will be the water tower for the hydro-electric plant in the Big Creek area. Towards the south is Mt. Sterling, which also has an old fire tower atop its summit. And of course, towards the west, is the seemingly endless expanse of mountains know as the Great Smoky Mountains.

mt-cammerer-towerUsing hand-cut stone, the octagonal fire tower at the summit was built by local laborers and the Civilian Conservation Corp in the late 1930s. Men working on the tower drilled and blocked the stone from a quarry only one hundred yards downhill from the tower. Some of these stones weighed as much as 600 pounds.

The architectural style used for the tower was called "western" because it didn't require a raised structure to see above the trees.

From February 15th through May 15th, and then again from October 15th to December 15th, the tower was manned by lookouts who lived on the premises on two-week tours.

The mountain itself is named after Arno Cammerer, the well liked Director of the National Park Service in the 1930s. Cammerer was an instrumental figure in helping to establish a national park in the Great Smoky Mountains. With the help of Colonel David C. Chapman of Knoxville, Cammerer convinced John D. Rockefeller Jr. to make a gift of $5 Million, which was used to purchase the lands that would become the national park.

During his tenure as Director the number of areas under the National Park Service tripled, while visitation jumped from roughly 2 million to 16 million people a year.

After Cammerer's death in 1941, the peak formerly known as "White Rocks" received his name.