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Benton MacKaye
Trail Assn.

BMT Vital Info

"...leaving a footpath for generations to follow."

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Length

Current official length is 288.0 mi. (Some sections have not been accurately measured yet and this distance is expected to increase.)

Type

The BMT is a backcountry hiking trail. Nearly half the route is on land managed as Wilderness by both the NPS and the USFS.

Elevations

Lowest: 765 ft at crossing of the Hiwassee River in Reliance, TN.
Highest: 5843 ft at summit of Mt. Sterling in the Smokies.

The Blaze

The official blaze is a white diamond, 5" across by 7" tall. (None permitted in Wilderness.)

Resupply Points

For long-distance hikers, see Resupply Information page.

Trailheads and Access Points

16 in Georgia, 24 in Tennessee/North Carolina, and 5 in the Smokies. See Hiker Resources page for a listing.

Shelters

Two on trail: one at mile 50.3 and the other at mile 273.8, northbound.

Permits Required

Permits are required only for backcountry camping in the Smokies. (All but 10 miles of trail are on public lands.)

Degree of Difficulty

The BMT is chartered to travel the high ridge so difficulty is similar to that of the AT, 'strenuous'.

Water

Generally not a problem in the Appalachians, though there are a few stretches where water is limited. One stream is not potable, at the southern crossing of Georgia Hwy 60, mile 17.9.

Permitted Uses

While the BMT is a hiking trail, some segments are routed on local trails with pre-existing horse or bicycle use permitted.

Weather

The BMT is generally open year-round but hikers should be prepared for extreme weather, especially in the higher elevations.

Road Walks

Over the entire trail, approximately 10 miles of road walking combined.

Wilderness Areas

(Skirts the Rich Mountain in GA); Cohutta and Big Frog in GA; Big Frog, Little Frog, and Citico Creek in TN; Joyce Kilmer-Slickrock in NC; (three Wilderness Study Areas); and the Smokies (managed as Wilderness).

Major Intersecting Trails

AT at miles 0.0, 3.8, 5.9, 200.1, and 287.6; Pinhoti (Georgia) at 69.4; and Mountains-to-Sea Trail at 241.5 and 249.5.

Fords

Several creek crossings but no deep-water fords. Slickrock Creek at mile 179.2 is normally the deepest on the trail at about 24". (Note: Never attempt to cross any stream that appears unsafe.)

Crowds

Not a problem so far. The BMTA has identified 'abundance of shelters' as the primary cause for trail overcrowding and has resolved to honor its charter to keep the BMT as a 'primitive' trail by not adding to the number of existing shelters.

Bugs

Generally not noteworthy.


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All content copyright 2003-2010 by Benton MacKaye Trail Association, Inc. All rights reserved.
Bear Tracks in Citico photo courtesy of Ken Jones, View Near Sixmile Gap photo courtesy of Diana Ristom