The Appalachian Trail, or AT, makes up roughly 71 miles of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Vantage points along the trail include the highest peak – Clingmans Dome (6625 feet), as well as the historic stone fire tower atop Mt. Cammerer.
On average, it takes about 7 days to hike the Appalachian Trail portion of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, give or take a day or so using Newfound Gap or Clingmans Dome as a mid-way point. Now you’re talking 3 or 4 days using Newfound Gap or Clingmans. And you’ll have to get someone to pick you up should you use either since each is one way. Imagine, “Hey, can you come pick me up? I’ve been in the woods 3 days without a shower.” Not the most welcoming of requests.
Hikers will notice the Appalachian Trail by the various “blazes” painted on trees, posts, and rocks in the park. Above tree-line, posts and rock piles called “cairns” are used to identify the route.
On October 7, 1923, the first section of the Appalachian Trail, from Bear Mountain-Harriman State Park to Delaware Water Gap, was opened. It wasn’t until August 1937 when the Civilian Conservation Corps connected the ridge between Spaulding and Sugarloaf Mountains in Maine that the trail was marked as complete.
The 1968 National Trails System Act designated the Appalachian Trail as a linear national park and authorized funds to surround the entire route with public lands, either federal or state, and to protect it from incompatible uses. At roughly 2175 miles in total length, the Appalachian Trail is the nation’s longest marked footpath. In all, it winds, dips, passes over, and through 6 national parks and touches 14 states.