"...leaving a footpath for generations to follow."
US Forest Service Alerts and Notices
BMT - Southern Section, Springer Mountain to Double Springs Gap, Georgia/Tennessee State Line, Mileage 81.1
BMT-Middle Section, Georgia/Tennessee State Line, Mileage 81.1 to Great Smoky Mountains National Park
2014 Yellow Creek Reroute Information
In 2014 and 2015, part of the BMT between the Cherohala Skyway and the Great Smoky Mountains National Park was changed to eliminate the dangerous walk along US Route 129 at the Tennessee/North Carolina State Line. Until the various maps are reprinted, thru hikers will have to keep these changes in mind.
For north bound thru hikers, from the Beech Gap access, continue to follow the old gravel road north to Cold Springs Gap. At that point, the new route follows the Stratton Bald Alternate Trail, #54A, uphill on the shoulder of Bob Bald. At the trail junction, take Stratton Bald Trail, #54, eastward going thru the open area known as Bob Bald, then continue eastward thru the forest and over Stratton Bald. A bit past that take the Haoe Lead Trail, which continues east along the ridge to Naked Ground Trail Junction, with a popular camping area and water source. Continue east along the ridge, turning northeast and continue to the Haoe Lead Trail Junction. There, leave that trail and follow the Hangover Lead north along the ridge for 0.2 miles. The 0.5 mile side trail to the Hangover leaves there, while Hangover Lead Trail descends thru brush down to Big Fat Gap.
At Big Fat Gap, take the Windy Gap Trail down to the Nichols Cove Trail, then follow it to the Yellow Hammer Gap Trail, then Ike Branch Trail for 200 feet to the actual Yellow Hammer Gap. Continue straight across this small gap and down the signed Tapoco Trail (not on most maps) down to Tapoco Lodge.
Leave Tapoco Lodge at the Gate, then turn right (south) and follow US Route 129 0.1 miles to Meadow Branch Road. Turn left and go up Meadow Branch about 100 feet and you will see the "James F. Burchfield Trailhead" across a foot bridge. Follow that 1.8 miles to Old Field Gap Road, then cross that road and follow the gated Forest Service Road east 0.5 miles to the access trail on the left. The trail follows the ridge east, crosses under the power lines and continues east along the ridge over Yellow Creek Mountain to Green Gap, which is a total of 7.4 miles from Old Field Gap Road then turn left and descend (steeply) to Fontana Village, where you can get resupply, back country permits, etc.
From Fontana, continue east 3 miles to intersect the Appalachian Trail just before it crosses NC 28 at Fontana Marina. Follow the AT thru that area and across the Dam, then up a service road to the start of the Lakeshore Trail, now the official route of the BMT. That connects in 5 miles with the existing BMT at Lost Cove. This entire route is very well signed and should present no navigation difficulties. We suggest that Thru Hikers get a current copy of Sgt. Rock's Thru Hikers Guide, available at the BMTA Store, to aid them in travel.
BMT-Northern Section, Great Smoky Mountains National Park
Anyone interested in these maps should check details such as area covered, map scale, shipping costs, etc. before making a purchase.
Trail Markers and Navigation
The trail is marked by a 5" wide x 7" high standard white blaze everywhere outside of designated Wilderness. A few odd-sized blazes may be noted where post width is insufficient to fit a standard blaze. No painted blazes of any kind are permitted in Wilderness. (The single exception is the six-mile stretch immediately south of the Georgia state line.) Half-scale wooden diamond 'blazes' (which are classified as 'signs') are currently being tested in the Big Frog Wilderness with hopes for their future use in all Wilderness areas. They appear at only two points near each trail intersection and at one point on each side of questionable creek crossings.
Double blazes - one over the other - are placed just before turns and just before any areas of potential confusion. They convey the standard meaning, "Heads up! -or- Watch for a turn in the trail."
In Georgia, the longest established trail, there should be road signs each way wherever the trail crosses a public road and flexible, brown, plastic sign posts with trail marker decals about 50 to 100 yards into the woods from each trailhead. In Tennessee and North Carolina, there are both wood and painted metal signs but the coverage is not complete, as it is in Georgia. Hikers should be extra cautious to follow the trail at unsigned intersections until this work is done.
The BMT route through the Smokies is marked at trail intersections with distinctive decals affixed to short, brown, plastic sign segments and mounted on existing wood sign posts, as allowed by the National Park Service. The decals are a dark green color with a white diamond on the face; the words "Benton MacKaye Trail" appear inside the diamond.
Please Leave No Trace
The BMTA asks that you follow Leave No Trace guidelines. Leave only footprints, take away only memories.
Enjoy the hike-a-little/fish-a-little approach? Check out the Fish the BMT page.
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Little hiker photo courtesy of Eric Lewis; Giant Citico Mushroom, of Ken Jones; and Quarry Blaze, of Diana Ristom