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View Full Version : It's official: New reroute of the BMT in the Slickrock/Joyce Kilmer Wilderness



SGT Rock
2015-02-27, 21:52
From the BMTA:


Reroute Newsor
"Mabel, them North Carolina folks are at it agin!"
By Dick Evans


The route for any trail is a much more complex thing to determine than most folks would guess. While it is easy to draw a line on a map and say, "Let's put a Trail here," the reality is much different. Land ownership and usage issues, access, topography and other factors combine to make seemingly simple issues quite complex, involving at times many different "stakeholder" groups, with different goals and guidelines.


This was certainly the situation when the Benton MacKaye Trail was first being laid out. While the route within Georgia to the Ocoee River was fairly straight forward, beyond there was fraught with issues. Planners knew they wanted to get to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, there were very few ways this could be done. In addition, the GSMNP Policy of no new trail miles, in place since 1985, added difficulties to this process. While GSMNP folks were very helpful in the process, it became obvious in late 2013 that either we had to accept the 3.5 mile road walk from Deals Gap to Twentymile Ranger Station for many years, or find another route. In December, 1014 and January 2015, Ernie Engman and I scouted the old Yellow Creek Mountain Trail on the south side of the Little Tennessee River drainage on land owned by the Forest Service, and found that, although unmaintained for years, it could be cleared and provide a great path to the Park. In addition, the Forest Service had kept the route on their active trail list, so no detailed environmental assessment was needed. As readers know, the Yellow Creek Reroute was approved and cleared within an astounding 7 months last year, providing hikers a safe and beautiful route between the Joyce Kilmer Slickrock Wilderness and the National Park.


Likewise, the route chosen through the Joyce Kilmer Slickrock Wilderness was first requested to go over Stratton Bald, Haoe, past the Hangover, one of the premier viewpoints in the southern Appalachians, and down to Big Fat Gap and hence out at Slickrock Creek Trailhead. However, the final route was to follow Fodderstack Ridge north from the Cherohala to Farr Gap, then down to cross Slickrock Creek and out. While normally this crossing does not present a problem, there are times when the water rises and becomes too high to cross safely. Avoiding this crossing involves a lengthy detour and has presented the Graham County Search and Rescue Team with a number of cases of hikers stranded on the Tennessee Side of the Creek. Even Rick Harris, longtime Tennessee/North Carolina Maintenance Director for the BMTA, expressed his concern for hiker safety due to this route, although deep in designated Wilderness as it is, there were no options to make this crossing safer. Our Section Hiking Guide and Ernie Engman's Thru Hikers Guide included bypass directions in an attempt to provide a safe alternative to this in cases of high water.


Many of you know that the Nantahala National Forest is involved in the process of reviewing and altering the forest management plan for their territory, and part of this process to to examine existing trails and determine if they need alterations. During one of the "breakout" sessions of these meeting, USFS Officials from the Cheaoh Ranger District expressed their concern about that crossing after the Graham County Search and Rescue folks pointed out the number of "rescues" they have made at that area. BMTA Past President Dick Evans, present at that meeting, was asked about rerouting that section of trail. Being nothing if not an opportunist, Dick pointed out that the original route bypassed this crossing and indeed was a much more scenic route following the eastern crest of the wilderness, and opined that such a reroute would in great likelihood be warmly received by the BMTA. It was decided at the meeting that Dick would present this issue to the BMTA, and the Cheaoh District would approach the Tellico Plains Ranger District with this proposal.


One concern by the BMTA was that we had a great relationship with the Tellico Plains District (as we do with all the Forest Service Districts thru which the Trail passes) and we did not want to jeopardize that by a reroute, but that the proposed routing was indeed a far better one than the current one. It did turn out that the Tellico Plains District had a similar concern with this crossing, and heartily endorsed the proposal as making a great safety improvement for hikers in the area. Quick approval by the BMTA followed, and confirmation was given to the Cheoah District about this new route. During this process, almost at the optimum time, the Tapoco Lodge, a great Bed and Breakfast bordering the Slickrock Wilderness, changed hands and the new ownership was very interested in hikers and active vacationers, and wanted to reopen the old trail from Yellowhammer Gap, on the edge of the Wilderness, down thru their property. This nicely added to the new BMT reroute, by allowing the Trail to pass right past a great "stop-off" point for hikers, and shortened the road walk on Route 129 to less than one hundred yards. Quick coordination between the BMTA and the Tapoco Lodge, greatly assisted by the Cheaoh Ranger District, resulted in a volunteer trip to clear that route from the Yellowhammer Gap to the Lodge.


The end result is that, effective February 27th, 2015, the Benton MacKaye Trail now follows the eastern crest of the Joyce Kilmer Slickrock Wilderness, then down to the Tapoco Lodge, then out their gate and a short road walk, regaining the trail at the James Burchfield Trailhead on Meadowbranch Road, the starting point of the Yellow Creek Reroute. New signs are in the process of being ordered to properly mark this new route, and the new Tennessee/North Carolina Section Guide, as well as the new edition of the Thru Hikers Guide, will reflect the route described. While this new route will provide additional "opportunities" for wilderness maintenance, the scenic beauty of this new route, access to the Tapoco Lodge and shortening of the road walk, combine to make this a great hike. Come try it!

sheepdog
2015-02-27, 22:00
come try it??


I believe I will.

Tin Man
2015-02-27, 22:00
come try it??


I believe I will.

I'm in

SGT Rock
2015-02-27, 22:04
Sheepdog, I just finished updating the errata page and I've printed off the stuff and put it into your guide. Superman probably needs a copy too.

sheepdog
2015-02-27, 22:06
Sheepdog, I just finished updating the errata page and I've printed off the stuff and put it into your guide. Superman probably needs a copy too.

Thanks Rock...you da man...

I don't think superman knows how to read. He is bringing me along to read signs and listen for rattle snakes.

Tin Man
2015-02-27, 22:11
Thanks Rock...you da man...

I don't think superman knows how to read. He is bringing me along to read signs and listen for rattle snakes.

Supe trusts you I suppose? good luck supe

sheepdog
2015-02-27, 22:18
Supe trusts you I suppose? good luck supe

just because I've spent most of my life behind bars??

SGT Rock
2015-02-27, 22:24
Sheepdog, I just finished updating the errata page and I've printed off the stuff and put it into your guide. Superman probably needs a copy too. For those that are interested I've attached a copy of the errata page to this post.

165.8 At Cold Spring Gap take trail #54A to Bob Bald.
168.3 At Stratton Bald join trail #53 to Haoe Bald. Pass through Naked Ground.
169.9 At Haoe Bald join trail #156 and hike past the side trail to the Hangover and the overlook.
172.9 At Big Fat Gap join trail #400 and hike through Windy Gap.
174.4 Join trail #44 and hike to Nichols Cove and the cemetery.
175.3 At the cemetery join #149 and hike to Yellowhammer Gap.
177.2 At Yellowhammer Gap take the newly re-opened trail down Yellowhammer Branch to Tapoco Lodge.
179.1 At US 129 cross the road and start the Yellow Creek Mountain Trail.

This "new" trail takes you up over Bob Bald, Stratton Bald, Naked Ground, past the Hangover and the Overlook down to Big Fat Gap. From there it goes out Windy Gap Trail through Windy Gap and then down to Nichols Cove where it goes along Yellowhammer Gap trail to Yellowhammer Gap. At the gap an old FS road has been reopened as trail to the newly re-opened and hiker friendly Tapoco Lodge.

sheepdog
2015-02-27, 22:27
Very cool thanks...

Tin Man
2015-02-27, 22:28
just because I've spent most of my life behind bars??

no, because supe was on the wrong side of the law and you being doing the sheepdog thing and all

Bearpaw
2015-02-27, 23:03
Rock, this looks positively tremendous and a huge improvement over the previous trail. I believe I may need to put aside 4 days in early summer vacation to walk this.

SGT Rock
2015-02-27, 23:08
Hey, anyone of you muldoons that plans to hike the new route anytime in the near future let me know some dates. I want to get out and do it again myself. If I am free, and you don't mind, I would love to go walking.

Superman
2015-02-27, 23:19
I'm still trying to figure out how to see Monkeyboy and Coolbreeze. We spent today with Campfire and his family.

SGT Rock
2015-02-27, 23:24
Superman, can you print a copy of the new errata for yourself or should I mail you a copy?

sheepdog
2015-02-28, 08:49
It would be good if you could meet up with Superman and I. Your company would be welcome.

Superman
2015-02-28, 09:20
I think mail would work better than me sorting this out.

Does that hostile still pick people up from marta, spend the night and then take you to the AT?

SGT Rock
2015-02-28, 12:37
You mean AT hiker hostel? I heard they went up for sale but are still in business. You might try calling to confirm.

Superman
2015-02-28, 12:54
You mean AT hiker hostel? I heard they went up for sale but are still in business. You might try calling to confirm.

Will do. Sheepdog and I need to get to the trail from Marta and designate a place to meet up. Are there other options. Did someone take Coolbreeze's place?

Tin Man
2015-02-28, 13:01
Will do. Sheepdog and I need to get to the trail from Marta and designate a place to meet up. Are there other options. Did someone take Coolbreeze's place?

ahem. need a ride?

Bearpaw
2015-02-28, 17:49
Superman and Sheepdog, let me know when you are heading through. I am about 30 minutes from the Ocoee River around mile 93 and barely 20 minutes from the Hiawassee River crossing 20 miles further north. I'd be glad to put you up for a night or more, and I might be able to slack you for a section.

sheepdog
2015-02-28, 19:24
Awesome Bearpaw...

SGT Rock
2015-02-28, 20:40
I think mail would work better than me sorting this out.

Does that hostile still pick people up from marta, spend the night and then take you to the AT?

Shoot me a PM with your address, easier than trying to look it up. Sheepdog your book went out today.

Elder
2015-02-28, 22:39
Yes, Josh and Lee still run the Hiker Hostel.
770-312-7342

hikerboy
2015-03-01, 08:25
Yes, Josh and Lee still run the Hiker Hostel.
770-312-7342
still open. im staying there april5th.

hey rock, whats the updated total distance of the bmt?

SGT Rock
2015-03-01, 19:07
About 286.1

Tin Man
2015-03-01, 19:37
About 286.1

Not including the CT section . . .

SGT Rock
2015-03-01, 19:41
Of course not. With that added it is like 3,200 miles, bigger even than the CDT.

Tin Man
2015-03-01, 19:51
Lmao

SGT Rock
2015-03-01, 21:08
On to other news. With all the recent changes to the BMT, I need to start editing the BMT Thru-Hikers guide for an earlier than normal update. That said, I need a new cover photo. If you have a good BMT trail photo with hiker(s) in it, please send it to me so I have some to pick from.

thanks.

Bearpaw
2015-03-01, 21:54
On to other news. With all the recent changes to the BMT, I need to start editing the BMT Thru-Hikers guide for an earlier than normal update. That said, I need a new cover photo. If you have a good BMT trail photo with hiker(s) in it, please send it to me so I have some to pick from.

thanks.

I have some good ones with a dark chocolate teddy bear.

Bearpaw
2015-03-01, 21:55
I have some good ones with a dark chocolate teddy bear.

Seriously though, I have a pretty good one of Hooch hiking into the tunnel to nowhere. And you can't even see his ugly mug.

Bearpaw
2015-03-01, 22:05
http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v425/bearpawat99/BMT%20Nov%2010/030.jpg (http://smg.photobucket.com/user/bearpawat99/media/BMT%20Nov%2010/030.jpg.html)

Not a bad shot.

Bearpaw
2015-03-01, 22:08
http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v425/bearpawat99/BMT%20Nov%2010/008.jpg (http://smg.photobucket.com/user/bearpawat99/media/BMT%20Nov%2010/008.jpg.html)

Another decent shot.

Bearpaw
2015-03-01, 22:10
http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v425/bearpawat99/BMT%206%2010/053.jpg (http://smg.photobucket.com/user/bearpawat99/media/BMT%206%2010/053.jpg.html)

Posed, but not terrible.

sheepdog
2015-03-01, 22:16
I vote for the girl with big boobs.

Bearpaw
2015-03-01, 22:18
I vote for the girl with big boobs.

I agree.

sheepdog
2015-03-01, 22:19
she seemed nice

Superman
2015-03-01, 23:13
Daisy and I spent today with Coolbreeze in Daytona. He said that due to this years snow and stuff we might do better to start from that rte 60 road crossing. He picked Tex up and brought him there. I hiked until I got there and waited for Tex. Seems like a good idea to me...rather than having to hike the approach trail.

sheepdog
2015-03-01, 23:23
What mile is that Superman?

sheepdog
2015-03-01, 23:29
just south of Suches?

Superman
2015-03-01, 23:57
just south of Suches?

I'm guessing about 10 miles on the BMT.

sheepdog
2015-03-02, 00:05
sounds good

Superman
2015-03-02, 00:10
He also suggested checking with Gene Roll for a shuttle from Marta to the trail. Tin man may not be available on that day. ;)

SGT Rock
2015-03-02, 04:26
LOL, that would be cool. I'm hoping to get one taken on one of the new sections to highlight it. Last cover I used a photo of Regina crossing Slickrock Creek so people would stop fearing the crossing. Now it seems sort of superfluous.

Superman
2015-03-02, 08:55
LOL, that would be cool. I'm hoping to get one taken on one of the new sections to highlight it. Last cover I used a photo of Regina crossing Slickrock Creek so people would stop fearing the crossing. Now it seems sort of superfluous.

Ya know those calendars they do for charity with those seemingly naked pictures? Use a couple pictures like that for the cover and centerfold. What a hoot that would be.

Hog On Ice
2015-03-02, 09:26
someone "posing" on Hangover?

Superman
2015-03-02, 10:31
You could refer to the BMT as the adult trail. Give the AT a break, Go BMT....the road less traveled.

sheepdog
2015-03-02, 10:59
Daisy and I spent today with Coolbreeze in Daytona. He said that due to this years snow and stuff we might do better to start from that rte 60 road crossing. He picked Tex up and brought him there. I hiked until I got there and waited for Tex. Seems like a good idea to me...rather than having to hike the approach trail.

What kind of road is rt 60? Paved? is there a trail head parking lot there?

Kanga
2015-03-02, 11:21
do you mean marta or amtrak? are flying in to atl?

Superman
2015-03-02, 11:32
What kind of road is rt 60? Paved? is there a trail head parking lot there?

Not really a trail head. It's more like parking on the side of the road as I recall. 60 is a paved road. Are you driving down from Mich? I will fly into Atlanta and take marta to where I can hopefully have someone pick me up. If you are driving you need to talk to someone that knows their way around. That isn't me.

Superman
2015-03-02, 11:33
do you mean marta or amtrak? are flying in to atl?

I meant that local train...not amtrak

Kanga
2015-03-02, 13:35
oh. marta. when are you flying in? i am 40 minutes from the atl airport.

sheepdog
2015-03-02, 17:05
Not really a trail head. It's more like parking on the side of the road as I recall. 60 is a paved road. Are you driving down from Mich? I will fly into Atlanta and take marta to where I can hopefully have someone pick me up. If you are driving you need to talk to someone that knows their way around. That isn't me.

I'm driving over from Charlston. My nephew is getting married April 3rd

Superman
2015-03-02, 20:03
oh. marta. when are you flying in? i am 40 minutes from the atl airport.

I haven't made the reservations yet. Sheepdog is still shifting around. I think he needs a place to park, then how to get back to his vehicle. The dates are still dancing.

sheepdog
2015-03-02, 21:35
My wife is kicking me out of the car. She claims she will come back and pick me up. I can be on the trail April 7th.

Superman
2015-03-02, 21:41
My wife is kicking me out of the car. She claims she will come back and pick me up. I can be on the trail April 7th.

OK then...I guess I'd better get some reservations made to be at rte 60 on the 7th. Kanga, how does it look to you? Do you know where that rte 60 /BMT trail crossing is?

Bearpaw
2015-03-02, 23:14
OK then...I guess I'd better get some reservations made to be at rte 60 on the 7th. Kanga, how does it look to you? Do you know where that rte 60 /BMT trail crossing is?

Two thoughts.

One. By April, FS 42 will probably be in much better shape. You could walk the AT one mile to Springer and start the BMT from the beginning.

Two. If you do start from 60, you should consider taking the gravel road next to the BMT crossing south. An easy 3-mile gravel road walk (or drive) will take you to the BMT around mile 9 at the Toccoa River Suspension Bridge. It's sort of a fixture of the GA BMT, with tons of good camping. Stay there, link up with each other, and start with a cool alternate southern start point.

Bearpaw
2015-03-02, 23:29
Belay the mileage I listed. The GA 60 crossing is at mile 17.9. The bridge is at 14.4.

SGT Rock
2015-03-03, 02:20
Ya know those calendars they do for charity with those seemingly naked pictures? Use a couple pictures like that for the cover and centerfold. What a hoot that would be.

I think I need to do a "Girls of the RHP" special edition of the guide.

SGT Rock
2015-03-03, 02:21
Two thoughts.

One. By April, FS 42 will probably be in much better shape. You could walk the AT one mile to Springer and start the BMT from the beginning.

Two. If you do start from 60, you should consider taking the gravel road next to the BMT crossing south. An easy 3-mile gravel road walk (or drive) will take you to the BMT around mile 9 at the Toccoa River Suspension Bridge. It's sort of a fixture of the GA BMT, with tons of good camping. Stay there, link up with each other, and start with a cool alternate southern start point.
Not a bad plan since there isn't many good water points north of there to camp at for a few miles.

sheepdog
2015-03-03, 09:43
Two thoughts.

One. By April, FS 42 will probably be in much better shape. You could walk the AT one mile to Springer and start the BMT from the beginning.

Two. If you do start from 60, you should consider taking the gravel road next to the BMT crossing south. An easy 3-mile gravel road walk (or drive) will take you to the BMT around mile 9 at the Toccoa River Suspension Bridge. It's sort of a fixture of the GA BMT, with tons of good camping. Stay there, link up with each other, and start with a cool alternate southern start point.

sounds like a winner

Superman
2015-03-03, 09:50
Two thoughts.

One. By April, FS 42 will probably be in much better shape. You could walk the AT one mile to Springer and start the BMT from the beginning.

Two. If you do start from 60, you should consider taking the gravel road next to the BMT crossing south. An easy 3-mile gravel road walk (or drive) will take you to the BMT around mile 9 at the Toccoa River Suspension Bridge. It's sort of a fixture of the GA BMT, with tons of good camping. Stay there, link up with each other, and start with a cool alternate southern start point.

I was only starting at rte60 because Coolbreeze was saying that 42 might not be an option because of the weather was worse this winter?

Roche
2015-03-03, 10:12
On to other news. With all the recent changes to the BMT, I need to start editing the BMT Thru-Hikers guide for an earlier than normal update. That said, I need a new cover photo. If you have a good BMT trail photo with hiker(s) in it, please send it to me so I have some to pick from.

thanks.5782

From Oct 2013, south of the CT section.

Kanga
2015-03-03, 10:26
OK then...I guess I'd better get some reservations made to be at rte 60 on the 7th. Kanga, how does it look to you? Do you know where that rte 60 /BMT trail crossing is?

the BMT crosses there twice with about 10 miles in between them. you should probably figure out which one you want to start at. if you want to come in earlier, you can crash at my place and i'll take you up in the morning. or if you fly in after lunch sometime on the 7th, i can take you right up.

Kanga
2015-03-03, 10:27
I was only starting at rte60 because Coolbreeze was saying that 42 might not be an option because of the weather was worse this winter?

42 has been in shitty shape (more so than i'm used to) for the last 3 winters. i hate driving there.

Superman
2015-03-03, 11:26
42 has been in shitty shape (more so than i'm used to) for the last 3 winters. i hate driving there.

I can get a better rate by flying down on the weekend. Maybe there is a place where you can dump me where Sheepdog can pick me up. That way you can avoid 42. Since he's from Mich he's probably used to mud season. Mud season in Mich used to be in between this winter and next winter.:angel:

Kanga
2015-03-03, 12:22
well, c'mon down. i'll put you up and we'll find a way.

Hog On Ice
2015-04-20, 08:52
165.8 At Cold Spring Gap take trail #54A to Bob Bald.
168.3 At Stratton Bald join trail #53 to Haoe Bald. Pass through Naked Ground.
169.9 At Haoe Bald join trail #156 and hike past the side trail to the Hangover and the overlook.
172.9 At Big Fat Gap join trail #400 and hike through Windy Gap.
174.4 Join trail #44 and hike to Nichols Cove and the cemetery.
175.3 At the cemetery join #149 and hike to Yellowhammer Gap.
177.2 At Yellowhammer Gap take the newly re-opened trail down Yellowhammer Branch to Tapoco Lodge.
179.1 At US 129 cross the road and start the Yellow Creek Mountain Trail.

This "new" trail takes you up over Bob Bald, Stratton Bald, Naked Ground, past the Hangover and the Overlook down to Big Fat Gap. From there it goes out Windy Gap Trail through Windy Gap and then down to Nichols Cove where it goes along Yellowhammer Gap trail to Yellowhammer Gap. At the gap an old FS road has been reopened as trail to the newly re-opened and hiker friendly Tapoco Lodge.

note the connection from the Yellowhammer Gap Tr. to the new trail down to Tapoco Lodge involves turning uphill / toward the Tapoco trailhead and going about 0.1 on the Ike Branch Tr. to the intersection with the Hangover Lead Tr. then going about 100 feet up the Hangover Lead Tr. to a metal post then going down the obviously newly cut trail which is marked with pink flagging. When the new trail hits a dirt road go downhill following the road and it will lead you right to the lodge. BTW the Sunday brunch at Jaspers (the restauraunt for the lodge) was outstanding which was greatly enjoyed after changing clothing and general cleanup following the hike. The Tapoco Lodge is very hiker friendly and showed it clearly with the friendly staff.

SGT Rock
2015-04-20, 13:05
Glad you found them hiker friendly as they said they would be. Did you get a room there to take a shower or did they have some accommodations to let y'all clean up?

Hog On Ice
2015-04-20, 14:10
did not ask - we had the cars there and changed cloths at the cars before going in to eat

hikerboy
2015-04-20, 14:26
Me superman and sheepdog plan on staying there in a few days. We'll give a full report

Rockdawg69
2015-05-26, 20:17
Hey Rock,

Been a while since I visited the site. Glad I did since the re-route is news to me. Had been planning a thru in Sept-Oct time frame if my AT section hike falls through in July. I appreciate all the work you and the BMTA did in getting this accomplished.
Hooah!