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Gregory Bald Overnight Loop Professional Review and Guide
"This hike combines the best that the high and low country have to offer. First, you'll travel up the Twentymile Trail past Twentymile Cascades to the Upper Flats streamside camp. Then an arduous climb tops out on Long Hungry Ridge and leads to the Gregory Bald Trail, arriving at the southern Appalachians most famous bald, with its staggering views and flower displays. Camp at Sheep Pen Gap, a high country grassy glade between Gregory Bald and Parson Bald. Leave the gassy balds and complete your loop via the steep Wolf Ridge Trail."
--Johnny Molloy, Day & Overnight Hikes in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park (Menasha Ridge Press).
This hike was both gorgeous and challenging. The ascent up Long hungry ridge is serious stuff and helps it earn its name. As you gain altitude the views get better and better, reaching a zenith on Gregory Bald. DO not miss the Bald!!! I camped at Forge Creek Campground which 3 miles from the bald and 2 miles from Cades Cove. If you do this start early! I started at 11 and reached the campground in the dark (6:30). On the way to the site go the extra mile out of the way to the bald. The next day I returned via Gregory Bald and Wolf Ridge trail. The bald is Glorious! Parson's Bald was a little disappointing as it is mostly overgrown. Heading down Wolf Ridge I realized how tired I was and couldn't fully appreciate the views. However, I did see two bears clamber down a tree and charge down the hill! The creeks and cascades around twenty-mile are gorgeous and mostly level trails. Overall, a fantastic experience featuring all the best of the Smokies!
Execellent three day hike. Day 2 is a thigh burner, but the reward is excellent views and deer in the camp. The water for campsite 13 is a bit hard to find; you have to go 1/6 of a mile down the Gregory Bald trail to find it on the left. The trail sign near camp is marked with "H20" with an arrow to get you going in the right direction. The weather was great and the leaves were turning so the views were quite nice. The only drawback was too many people; there were even people illegally camping on the Bald itself. Also of note is that the Johnny Malloy trail guide and the National Geographic Map show the trail crossing the creek three times after campsite 95 on day three. The trail has been re-routed and all crossings are on bridges on day 3.
I did the hike as the guide suggests, counter-clockwise and over 3 days. We started just after lunch on day one and easily made the first campsite. The trail was wide and easy to follow. We had the campsite all to ourselves.
Day 2 starts out with a pretty rough climb. The trail steepens and narrows quite a bit though it's still very well marked and easy to follow. The views from the bald were terrific even though it was a little overcast. There was one other party of 2 at campsite #13 and we saw 4 other people on the bald, all of whom at come up Gregory Ridge from the TN side.
The third day coming down the Western side at the higher elevations was a little overgrown but still easy to traverse and follow the trail. It widens quite a bit as you get down the mountain.
Other thoughts. I saw more bear scat on our second day than I've ever seen before and later in the day we saw two small bears. The deer on the bald and campsite 13 are extremely friendly as others have mentioned. The water source near campsite 13 was almost dry but was plentiful at the lower elevations.
All in all, a great hike. It was a lot of fun.
This was a great trail i did it in the winter with about a foot of snow on the ground and the trail was still easy to follow. The trails were well maintained other than a few sections where i had to duck to get through some low lying brush. I only ran into one or two other people and was alone at my camp site. Its a great quick overnight trail and not to difficult just be weary of ice in the winter I managed to slip on a few of the steeper inclines.
great hike with good campsites. we went in late october 2007 for good big sky views and changing of leaves. i do reccomend this hike in spring or late fall. overall was not to difficult. second day is a leg burner but the reward was without a doubt worth every effort. trail conditions were top notch with no down trees or detours. all intersections were clearly marked and easy to follow. we followed the trail guide to a tee and everything was smooth as ice. with a good start and quick pace this could easily be an overnight loop.
the gregory bald is absolutly beautiful with almost 360 degree panaramic views. on a clear day you can see for miles upon miles of crystal clear mountain tops and rolling clouds through the valleys. this is definatly a big sky adventure not to miss.
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