Via Low Gap, Appalachian and Mt. Cammerer Trails
*One of our Top Ten hikes in the Southern Appalachians!
- Great Smoky Mountain National Park, TN
- 11 miles out and back
- 3050 ft elevation gain
- Our Time: 6-7 hours
- Difficulty: Strenuous (to Low Gap; moderate beyond)
- Best done in fall or spring
- B.I.T. Rating (****)
Directions: From Gatlinburg, take Highway 321 east till it becomes highway 32, and then bear right at the T-junction at Cosby, TN, and then right again into Cosby Campground. The trail is about two miles down off the big parking are just to the left of the entrance station. Coming in from I-40, take the Foothills Parkway exit (signed for Gatlinburg) and follow it into Cosby, where it’s left at the T-junction…from here directions are same as above in to Cosby.
Brief Description: A hike with only one view but it is one HECK of a view, perhaps the single best in the entire park. Also notable for the old, restored wooden fire tower at the top (markedly different than the steel gantry style towers found on other mountains.) Another big plus — generally this hike is not too crowded.
Why do it?
- Perhaps the best single viewpoint in GSMNP
- Nearly 360 degree view from 4928 foot tall Mt. Cammerer
- Historic fire tower
- Footing is generally good
- 2+ mile section of the AT
- Past Low Gap the grades are quite modest
- Wildflowers in Low Gap
- Generally not crowded by Smoky Mountain standards
- Do this off peak you make have the mountain to yourself
- You can easily stage from Cosby campground, a far better alternative than staying in the tourist Mecca of Gatlinburg
- You can also hike up the AT from Davenport Gap, southbound to the Mt. Cammerer cutoff; distance and elevation are about the same
- If given a choice between this and Mt. Leconte we would do this
But first consider…
- The first three miles are one steep, long slog
- Not a particularly fun trail to descend
- Low Gap trail is a bridle trail, you will see signs of the passage of horses
- Summit area itself is rather small
- Minor scrambles near summit (not difficult)
- Almost no views until the summit itself
- Once on the ridge water may be unavailable
- Both times we have been through Low Gap it was swarming with hornets