Fork Ridge Trail is a hiking trail in Swain County, North Carolina. It is within Great Smoky Mountains National Park. It is 5.0 miles long and begins at 5,885 feet altitude. Traveling the entire trail is 10.1 miles with a total elevation gain of 3,199 feet. Near the trailhead there is parking. The Deep Creek Gap saddle and the Fork Ridge can be seen along the trail. The trail ends near the 53 (elevation 2,562 feet) camp site.
Fork Ridge Trail Professional Reviews and Guides
"Fork Ridge is the perfect antidote to the frenzy at Clingmans Dome. Though its trailhead is only a couple miles down the road from Clingmans, it’s a million miles away in terms of an outdoor experience. The trail wastes little time leaving busy Clingmans Dome Road behind, following its namesake ridge down from Clingman’s spine through a forest that can’t decide if it wants to be a northern spruce-fir forest or a more traditional Southern Appalachian mixed hardwood forest. Though in generally good shape, it’s obvious this bench-cut trail doesn’t get a lot of use; the occasional seasoned downed tree requires a quick detour and in spots the trail pitches downhill."
--Joe Miller, 100 Classic Hikes in North Carolina (The Mountaineers Books).
"This challenging backpack loop has major elevation changes. Explore spruce-fir ridges and camp near high-elevation streams. Descend beneath big spruce and yellow birch trees on Fork Ridge to junglelike Deep Creek. Climb to the Appalachian Trail (AT) with views from Mount Collins.
Clingmans Dome Road, the trail access and where this hike begins, is open from April through November. Spring and fall have the clearest skies for stupendous views. Call ahead about road conditions if you want to hike during the shoulder seasons. Midsummer through fall is best for fishing. Autumn offers color, solitude, and drier trails."
--Johnny Molloy, Top Trails: Great Smoky Mountains National Park - 2nd Edition (Wilderness Press).
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