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trails illustrated map
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.

Mountains-to-Sea Trail
The Mountains-to-Sea Trail Across North Carolina explores the most spectacular, historic and quirky elements of the NC landscape. Stretching 1000 miles from Clingmans Dome in the Smokies, to Jockey's Ridge State Park in the Outer Banks, the route takes in Fraser fir trees and pelicans, old grist and textile mills, working cotton and tobacco farms and Revolutionary War sites.

 The Mountain-to-Sea Trail in Great Smoky Mountains National Park

The Mountains-to-Sea Trail stretches roughly 1,150 miles from Clingmans Dome in the Great Smoky Mountains, to Jockey's Ridge on the Outer Banks of the North Carolina coast. Although only 672 miles of the footpath are actually built right now, adventurers can still hike across the state using temporary connectors on back roads and state bike routes.

Mountains-to-Sea Trail map

The Mountains-to-Sea Trail (MST) was built to showcase North Carolina's diverse landscape. Thru-hikers will experience mountains, rugged gorges, small Piedmont farms, coastal swamps, colonial towns, and barrier islands as they make their way across the Tar Heel State. It climbs both the tallest mountain peak and the highest sand dune in the Eastern United States, passes through three national parks, two national wildlife refuges, three national forests, seven state parks and visits three lighthouses, including the nations tallest.

clingmans domeThe first section of trail, located in Great Smoky Mountains National Park, runs for more than 58 miles: from Clingmans Dome - the highest point in the Park, to Black Camp Gap near the Blue Ridge Parkway. From Clingmans Dome the MST follows the crest of the Smokies along the Appalachian Trail before descending down the Fork Ridge and Deep Creek trails. The trail then begins climbing again, taking hikers over Thomas Divide to Newton Bald, before descending once again down to the Smokemont Campground.

From Smokemont the trail travels up the Bradley Fork and Chasteen Creek trails, over to Beech Gap and Pin Oak Gap, before traveling south along the Balsam Mountain Road to reach Black Camp Gap on Heintooga Ridge Road.

Hikers should note that the route through the Smokies has changed a couple of times over the last couple of years, and could change again in the future. However, below are some of the current routing details, as of January 2015, for the MST in the Great Smoky Mountains:

 Location Incremental Miles Cumulative Mileage Elevation
Clingmans Dome / MST Trailhead 0 0.0 6643
Fork Ridge Trail junction 4.0 4.0 5888
Deep Creek Trail junction / Campsite 53 5.1 9.1 3060
Campsite 54 2.6 11.7 2600
Campsite 55 0.8 12.5 2410
Pole Road Creek Trail junction 0.1 12.6 2459
Campsite 56 0.2 12.8 2405
Martins Gap Trail Jct. / Campsite 57  0.5 13.3 2400
Sunkota Ridge Trail junction 1.5 14.8 3394
Thomas Divide Trail junction 4.9 19.7 4765
Newton Bald Trail junction 0.5 20.2 4959
Campsite 52 0.1 20.3 5000
Newfound Gap Road 5.2 25.5 2184
Bradley Fork Trailhead 0.1 25.6 2180
Chasteen Creek Trail junction 1.6 27.2 2300
Campsite 50 0.1 27.3 2360
Campsite 48 2.2 29.5 3320
Hughes Ridge Trail junction 1.7 31.2 4700
Enloe Creek Trail junction 0.5 31.7 4800
Campsite 47 1.0 32.7 3620
Hyatt Ridge Trail junction 2.6 35.3 4400
Beech Gap Trail II trailhead 1.7 37.0 4900
Straight Fork Road 2.8 39.8 3100
Beech Gap Trail I trailhead 0.1 39.9 3100
Balsam Mountain Trail junction 2.4 42.3 5069
Balsam Mountain at Pin Oak Gap 2.3 44.6 4424
pass Palmer Creek Trailhead 0.7 45.3 4508
pass Spruce Mountain Trailhead 1.8 47.1 4802
Balsam Mountain Campground 6.5 53.6 5330
pass Polls Gap 2.4 56.0 5127
Black Camp Gap Parking Area 2.4 58.4 4490

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 Mountains-to-Sea Trail, please click here.

National Geographic Trails Illustrated Map for the Smoky Mountains

Sectional Maps (more details): 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

The Mountains-to-Sea Trail Across North Carolina

Hiking Gear and Apparel