Wednesday, July 28, 2010

So... really, how many miles of trails are there?

I'm so confused...  When I started this journey I had it in my head that there were approximately 900 miles of trails in the Great Smoky Mountains N.P. (hence the blog name).  I guess that number came primarily from the "900 miler club" - their web site says "Within the boundaries of the GSMNP are about 900 miles of maintained hiking trails..."  On the other hand the GSMNP official website says "Choose from over 800 miles of trails..."  

This past Father's Day I got Liz Etnier's excellent book "Day Hikers Guide to All the Trails in the Smoky Mountains" (which I highly recommend!).  In the appendix of her book she lists a total of 791.4 miles which she compiled from the 3rd edition of the Hiking Trails of the Smokies book and the 2003 version of the trail map.  Because this is just the way I am, I sat down with my 2001 2nd edition copy of Hiking Trails of the Smokies and added up all the miles of trails listed in that book.  I came up with a total of 794.4 miles.

SO - it looks like my 900-mile quest has turned into an 800-mile quest.  I have modified my "odometer" accordingly (it only affects the percentage of the trails I've done).  I don't plan to change my blog name though, since in order to finish all 800 miles of trails in the park I'll easily have to hike well over 900.

Regardless of whether it's 800 or 900 miles, the quest to finish all the trails in the Smokies has become a passion (my wife might say obsession).  I've already seen so many new parts of the park and enjoyed many trails I might never have taken that I'd say it's already been a success.  I've got a couple of hikes in the Abrams Falls / Cades Cove area percolating around in my head to finish off that section of the park sometime this summer.  Maybe I'll see you out on the trails.

Til next time, happy hiking!


  1. I am pretty sure the 900 includes the miles (and miles) of trails that are no longer maintained and thus are not on the "official" map; White Oak Sinks is a prime example.

  2. I'd be curious to see the evolution of the "official map" over the years, and to see what trails have been abandoned (and why). Do you know if the old maps are available anywhere? Love White Oak Sinks - what an awesome place!

  3. There's a fine line between obsession and passion. I don't think you've crossed it yet...much. ;-)

  4. A gift from the queen of internet research. :)

  5. I too am hiking the "900." And in my OCD way had to create a spreadsheet to log my mileage. I started with one I found on Liz's site (it had an error in mileage but I don't remember what it was) and made my own. My total is 795.8. This includes every trail in The Little Brown Book with one addition: the 0.3 hike to High Rocks off of Cold Spring Gap Trail. It's not listed as a trail in The Little Brown book but it is mentioned. It also appears on the Park Map as a trail so I included it.