Tunnel to Nowhere –
A Two-Night Backpacking Hike
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Travel six miles on a scenic mountain highway to arrive at one of the most unique trailheads ever … the “Tunnel to Nowhere” / the “Road to Nowhere”. The quarter-mile long tunnel was to be part of a relocated route to Deals Gap for residents of Swain County displaced by the then new Fontana Lake. Environmental issues prevented the rest of the route from being completed.
The 26.5-mile backpacking excursion begins as you cautiously take your first steps into the tunnel’s entrance. Your initial hesitancy quickly is overcome by the appeal of the sunlit forest beyond the darkness. Features along this section of the BMT include a huge boulder field, fragrant pine forest and the now deserted community of Solola Valley.
A great place to camp for the first night is Campsite #61, between the Nolan Divide and the junction of Bull Creek. The sound of rushing water between the two creeks makes for a restful night’s sleep.
In the spring, day two will be a gorgeous wildflower / Rosebay Rhododendron-lined hike along the joint BMT / in-development North Carolina Mountains to Sea Trail.
With 360 degree views of the Smokies, including Clingmans Dome, Mount LeConte and Charlies Bunion, Newton Bald is the perfect spot to camp for the final night of your journey.
The last leg of your trek is an easy one — all downhill with a spectacular array of wildflowers in the spring: Harebells, Vasey’s Trillium, Jack in the Pulpit, Foam Flower, Hepatica, Crested Dwarf Iris, Showy Orchis and the rarely seen Umbrella plants.
Your journey ends at the site of a once thriving lumber community — now the Smokemont Campground.
Become a Member of the Benton MacKaye Trail Association – details HERE.