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Day & Overnight Hikes in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park
by Johnny Molloy (Menasha Ridge Press)
© 2008 Johnny Molloy/Menasha Ridge Press. All Rights Reserved.
March 12, 1998 Elkmont Campsite We begun our journey at the Elkmont Campground. Earlier in the morning we had registered an itinerary with the rangers to confirm backcountry campsites along the our trip. We got off to a late start (11:00am) and drove the van as far as we could up to a chained off section of service road. After gearing up, we hiked the first mile to the official trailhead. This section is essentially a service road that parallels the Little River. It is fairly flat and gives a great view of the mountain stream rushing by. After several stops to take pictures, we finally reach the trailhead where the road ends and the trail begins. The trail along the Little River before the Rough Creek campsite has a slight elevation gain, with few switchbacks. There are plenty of streams that cascade into the Little River, creating beautiful frozen waterfalls. We reach the Rough Creek campsite in approx. 4 hours taking into account a number of stops along the way. The campsite is situated along the creek, making it easy to find water to filter. We tak advantage of the remaining daylight to explore the area around the campsite. Following park rules, we forage for dead wood and sit by the campfire (in fire ring) sharing past adventures. March 13, 1998 Today we started a bit earlier and began our journey up Rough Creek Trail to Mt. Collins Shelter. The trail becomes decidingly more difficult as the it makes numerous switchbacks up the ridge. We see the vegetation change from lush rhodendrerons to the fresh smelling hemlocks. The trail becomes narrower and snow covered. The switchbacks are steeper and tended to be more frequent as we pushed higher up. We cross the Rough Creek several times. Some areas have foot-bridges made of downed trees, others are merely stepping stones. Both are extremely slick during cooler time periods. By lunch we reach the Sugarland Mtn. Trail and have a long lunch. The next section became our long section as we would hike better than 4 miles to reach the Mt. Collins shelter. One advantage of taking this route, we were opportuned a great view of the Chimney Tops as we neared the shelter. Upon reaching the shelter we set-up for dinner and reviewed our day. We had covered nearly 3,000 ft in elevation in a matter of 8 miles. Tomorrow we make our way back down and finish our 3 days in the wilderness.
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