PDA

View Full Version : New BMT project: Fontana Village Alternate



SGT Rock
2013-12-16, 18:38
This project I've started and I'm currently working on for the next guidebook: Bypass option for the Dragon that also incorporates a resupply point and a place to get the dreaded printed copy of the hiker permit. This would also bypass the burned area we are having a hard time keeping open on the private land between the dam and Deals Gap.

The idea is not a new one. A couple of years ago the BMTA was looking at this route as a way to get off the Dragon. Things were progressing when the possibility of another route opened up, so we switched gears and started looking at this one. That other route has become unachievable in the last couple of months, so we are back to square one. As I am working on the 2014/15 guide now, I have been talking with a contact in the area (nameless until he says otherwise) about bringing this route back up as either the proposed new route or an approve alternate route.

Basic description, for northbounders. At the Topoco Trail Head, instead of going left and across the bridge and up, you would take a right and road walk for approx 0.5 miles to the start of the Yellow Creek Mountain Trail which is the old AT from 1947. You would then walk that ridge for 7.3 miles to Glenn Gap. At Glenn Gap you would get on the trail system maintained by the Fontana Village and decend 0.7 miles to their road system where you road walk past the store 0.6 miles later. At this point you could pick up a mail drop and/or buy what you need. The store also has a service to schedule and print thru-hiker permits for AT thru-hikers. They can do the same for BMT thru-hikers.

At this point the hiker has a few options:
1. Shuttle to Fontana and hike the AT to either a) Sassafras Gap and pick up the BMT (6.7 miles). b) hike to the Lakeshore Trail and hike it to Lost Cove and pick up the BMT (8.1 miles). An alternate would be to just get dropped off at the far side of the dam. I've done that before.

2. Hike to the AT using the Fontana bike/hike trails and pick up the AT near the marina. Then you have the two options listed above to connect back to the BMT.

3. Try and get the shuttle to take you to 20 Mile and the official BMT and connect there. Currently the Fontana Village people don't say they can officially, but whatever you can talk the driver into doing is between you and him. You could also get the folks from Hike Inn to shuttle you to 20 Mile.

I'm pretty sure this is going into the new guide book. I've worked out a shuttle for tomorrow and I' going to go do some walking and talking to see what we can make work. There are so many alternative ways to do this, stating how many miles is being bypassed is not totally cut and dry. But I would estimate that overall, if one were to do this totally walking and connected at Sassafras Gap, then the bypass would be about 18.0 miles long and bypass about 13.5 miles of the BMT. I hope to post some maps Wednesday.

I was hoping to hear from some of my BMT alum that have opinions on this.

Hog On Ice
2013-12-16, 19:03
I had no problem getting a shuttle in 09 from the lodge at Fontana Village to 20 mile - just asked at the desk and they set me up but note I also stayed at the lodge and it might be different for someone who did not stay there - had to wait a bit for the driver but no problem. That said it was a fairly long shuttle compared with the shuttle to the marina. Personally I like the idea of picking up Lakeshore Tr. without going up Shuckstack (option 1b above) - this feels like a good choice to me - there is enough kick ass climbs further on to make up for the lack.

SGT Rock
2013-12-16, 20:03
I hear ya. But, in my experience the first segment of the Lakeshore is a bunch of PUDS while the climb up to Shuckstack isn't too bad and you get a couple of views.

Hog On Ice
2013-12-16, 20:05
frankly I thought the whole Lakeshore Tr to be a bunch of PUDs but I hear you about the views

generoll
2013-12-16, 20:45
Dunno Rock, I went over the dam and headed right for Lakeshore. I'm not familiar with the Fontana Village trails, but once you're across at Tapoco how do you get back on the south shore where Fontana is?

Hog On Ice
2013-12-16, 20:47
I think Rock said instead of crossing the bridge at Tapoco one would go right to pick up the next trail so one is still on the correct side.

generoll
2013-12-16, 21:01
ah. ok.

SGT Rock
2013-12-16, 21:14
Dunno Rock, I went over the dam and headed right for Lakeshore. I'm not familiar with the Fontana Village trails, but once you're across at Tapoco how do you get back on the south shore where Fontana is?

At Topoco you would be on the south side of the water. Yellow Creek Mountain Trail is on the ridge over the village of Topoco, so you continue along the south boundary of the water system and drop into Fontnana. There are a series of relatively easy walking/biking trails in the vicinity that connect all the way from the village over to the AT where it crosses NC28 at the Marina, so you would use those trails to avoid going on the road (if you didn't shuttle). Once on the AT there, then you would cross over the dam.

SGT Rock
2013-12-16, 21:16
Attached is the tracks I've created sitting here to get an idea of the stages of the trail, and another map from the Fontana Village folks showing their local trail system.
5556
5557

Bearpaw
2013-12-16, 21:28
I like the idea of the walk to Fontana Village. While I like blue-blazing, I also like maintaining continuity in a walk. A walking option all the way to the Lakeshore appeals to me.

SGT Rock
2013-12-16, 21:52
I agree with that. The BMTA doesn't care about purism for the BMT, but they do care about hiker safety and convenience with the reservation system. Hopefully we can work that out.

generoll
2013-12-16, 21:54
couldn't a hiker just get his permit at Fontana lodge?

SGT Rock
2013-12-16, 21:55
Didn't I already say that?

SGT Rock
2013-12-17, 22:58
Yellow Creek Mountain Trail is in pretty bad shape.

Sent from my SCH-R970 using Tapatalk

SGT Rock
2013-12-18, 16:22
Today I did some review of the aerial images of the "trail" and my GPS tracks. It looks like:

1. Road walk from Topoco to Yellow Creek Mountain Trail (YCMT) is great. Shoulders on both sides of the road support safe walking for hikers. Parking on both ends. Length 0.5 miles. Water source is the creek, but it flows through farm/house, so treat and/or filter.

2. YCMT from US 129 to Old Field Gap Road is still useable but needs a few blow downs removed and some brush work. There are even some blow downs. Three good overlook points and one possible dry campsite. Length is 1.8 miles.

3. From Old Field Gap Road the old YCMT gets unusable. FS 251 shadows the old trail for about 3.1 miles and then connects to FS 251C which regains the ridge and is 1.1 miles long. So this route could be used if the effort to re-open the trail wasn't feasible. This would make about a 4.2 mile walk on gated FS road that is very well graded and maintained. Add to that there are a few good campsites and one to two water sources along this closed road.

4. From the end of FS 251C there is a 0.5 mile stretch on the ridge which is totally overgrown. In late fall, winter, and early spring hikers with good skills could follow it without getting lost, but it would be slow going. The only real option is to open this back up with trail maintenance.

5. The trail crosses under powerlines at this point, and there are about 0.2 miles of useable maintenance road.

6. The trail then goes back into totally overgrown and unusable trail trail for about 1.4-1.6 miles. again, in late fall, winter, and early spring hikers with good skills could follow it very slowly. It needs to be cleared and would probably be the hardest part to re-open due to length and remoteness of the section.

7. From the end of the overgrown section the ridge walk joins a day hike trail up from Fontana Village called the Lookout Rock Trail. It is about 1.7 miles down to the road where you would begin a road walk. You also cross a water source a few times along here.

8. The road walk to the store is about 0.6 miles. From the store it is about 0.2 miles to the lodge and the trail heads for other Fontana day hike/bike trails that would connect into the AT.

Overall I think the most logical route is about 11.4 miles from Topoco to the Lodge and would require about 1.8 miles of general trail maintenance and about 1.9 miles of harder work to re-open old YCMT. Now the internal debate in my mind is do I include this route in the guidebook or not? If I include it and someone gets lost up there in one of the bad sections I'd be pretty sorry. But if the BMTA decided to do some maintenance and open this coming year and I haven't included it in the book, then it won't go in for a couple more years.

Mags
2013-12-18, 17:25
For resupply, the Fontana Dam option may be easier? Unless the Dragon takes mail drops in-season? IIRC, a really nice local trail maintainer picked me up when I did the BMT in that stretch. ;)

Superman
2013-12-18, 17:36
The first year it was raining and blowing. There weren't many bikes at the Dragon so they let me stay. Between the restaurant and the store I was able to resupply. Then I made the mistake of switching to the AT. The second year the weather was nice and the Dragon didn't want me to darken their door. Bikes were every where. I resupplied at the village. Taking the BMT through the Smokies was wonderful. Next time I would take the low connecting trail along the water to get on the BMT.

SGT Rock
2013-12-18, 20:13
For resupply, the Fontana Dam option may be easier? Unless the Dragon takes mail drops in-season? IIRC, a really nice local trail maintainer picked me up when I did the BMT in that stretch. ;)I remember that.


The first year it was raining and blowing. There weren't many bikes at the Dragon so they let me stay. Between the restaurant and the store I was able to resupply. Then I made the mistake of switching to the AT. The second year the weather was nice and the Dragon didn't want me to darken their door. Bikes were every where. I resupplied at the village. Taking the BMT through the Smokies was wonderful. Next time I would take the low connecting trail along the water to get on the BMT.
The Dragon is hit and miss. Sometimes folks find them very helpful, other times they are really standoffish. Looks like you got a dose of both over your hikes. I've had them say they accept mail drops one year, then claim they never have the next year. I like the place and have never had a bad encounter there, but I've never hiked into it. Fontana is use to hikers and takes good care of them. It would be nice if this became the offical BMT, but that would require a few things to fall into place such as getting the BMTA board on-board with it, and then clearing any concerns with the ATC and TVA.

Superman
2013-12-18, 20:26
Well, the first year I got a real nice room but it was just me. The next year I had our bouncing baby boy with me. We had a room that was even bad by hiker standards. The bathroom door just about hit the toilet so it was hard to go in and close the door. I assume it was because Gordon was with me.:angel:

Hog On Ice
2013-12-18, 20:35
Yellow Creek Mountain Trail is in pretty bad shape.

is any part of it in a Wilderness area?

SGT Rock
2013-12-18, 22:03
Nope. So power tools will be used. Brush cutters and chain saws.

Sent from my SCH-R970 using Tapatalk