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SOUTH BEYOND 6000 in the GREAT SMOKY MOUNTAINS NATIONAL PARK (Smokies)
Twelve of the forty peaks over 6000 in the region are located in the Smokies. For hiking convenience they may be divided into four sections: A. Southwest of Newfound Gap (2 peaks ) B. Just North of Newfound Gap (2 peaks) C. Vicinity of Tricorner Knob Shelter (6 peaks ) and D. Vicinity of Laurel Gap Shelter (2 peaks ). Hikers in the Smokies will find a number of useful guides to Park trails, such as Hiking Trails of the Smokies (Gatlinburg: Great Smoky Mountains Natural History Association, 1994).
A. Southwest of Newfound Gap (Clingmans Dome and Mt. Collins )
Clingmans Dome (6643 feet) is a popular site for visitors by automobile and is reached by the 7-mile Clingmans Dome Road, which connects Newfound Gap on US-441 (between Cherokee, NC and Gatlinburg, TN) to the Clingmans Dome Parking Area. Visitors may then ascend a paved walkway to the summit and tower of Clingmans Dome. (This is not an approved route for the South Beyond 6000 Program).
Mt. Collins (6188 feet) is located on the Appalachian Trail about 4.7 miles from Newfound Gap and 3.0 miles from Clingmans Dome.
Most Commonly Used/Accepted Routes:
Clingmans Dome, 6643
Hike Descriptions: Clingmans Dome
Mt. Collins, 6188
Hike Descriptions: Mt. Collins
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B. Nearby North of Newfound Gap ( Mt. Le Conte and Mt. Kephart )
Mt. Le Conte (6593 feet) is linked by several trails to Newfound Gap, US 441, and the Cherokee Orchard area near Gatlinburg, TN. Hikers frequently do a loop by ascending one of the trails and descending by another.
Mt. Kephart. The trail to Mt. Kephart (6217 feet) begins on the right side of the Boulevard Trail, a few minutes from where the latter leaves the Appalachian Trail, 2.7miles from Newfound Gap. The summit lies a short distance up this trail, which continues, onto the spectacular overlook called the Jump off.
Mt. LeConte, 6593
Hike Descriptions: Mt. Le Conte
Mt. Kephart, 6217
Hike Descriptions: Mt. Kephart
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C. Vicinity of Tricorner Knob Shelter (Mt. Sequoyah, Mt. Chapman, Mt. Yonaguska, Marks Knob, Mt. Guyot, and Old Black)
Tri-Corner Knob Shelter is located on the Appalachian Trail 15.7 miles northeast of Newfound Gap and 15.7 miles from Davenport Gap, the northern terminus of the Appalachian Trail in the Smokies. It is used by nearly all Beyond South hikers as a base to climb the nearby peaks. Reservations are necessary and can be made by calling the Backcountry Reservation Office at 423-436-1231. Topographical maps are helpful and almost indispensable for climbing these peaks because most of them are not marked in any way and are reached by bushwhacks.
Mt. Sequoyah (6003 feet) is located on the Appalachian Trail 2.6 miles southwest of Tricorner Knob Shelter and 13.1 miles northeast of Newfound Gap. The summit is in a small cleared area on the west side of the AT.
The Appalachian Trail runs along the flank of Mt. Chapman (6417 feet) 1.4 miles from Tricorner Knob Shelter and 14.5 miles from Newfound Gap. When going south, the mountain is located just after a sharp angle to the left (going north, just before a sharp angle to the right). A short, but tough, bushwhack is necessary either up the side or back along the west crest from the angle. A faint man way goes up the west crest of the ridge to the summit. There are several rocky protuberances, but the summit is evident, and the climber will be rewarded with a stunning view toward Mt. Guyot.
Mt. Yonaguska (6120 feet) is about a half-mile south of Tricorner Knob Shelter located offtrail from the Balsam Mountain Trail. The hiker must bushwhack to the summit. This is usually done leaving the Balsam Mountain Trail from near the same place the hiker leaves the trail for Marks Knob.
Marks Knob (6169 feet) is accessed from the same gap as Mt. Yonaguska, 0.8 miles southeast from the Appalachian Trail on the Balsam Mountain Trail. The second peak on Marks Knob is the summit. To the right in the gap is Mt. Hardison, with Marks Knob on the other side. The hiker must go around Mt. Hardison on the heavily overgrown old Hyatt Ridge Trail. Once past Mt. Hardison the hiker will reach Marks Knob another half mile or so beyond, uphill and to the left of the OLD (decommissioned) Hyatt Ridge Trail, to be ascended by bushwhack.
Mt. Guyot (6621 feet) is the second highest peak in the Smokies and looms to the right alongside the Appalachian Trail, after a steady climb of about a mile northeast from the Shelter. The hiker should bushwhack directly up at a southeast bearing up the steep side from the southern of the two Guyot Springs crossed on the AT.
Old Black (6370 feet), is reached if continued northbound on the AT past Mt.Guyot for about a mile, then ascended via a short but obstacle-laden bushwhack.
Mt. Sequoyah, 6003
Hike Descriptions: Mt. Sequoyah
Mt. Chapman 6417
Hike Descriptions: Mt. Chapman
Mt. Yonaguska, 6120
Hike Descriptions: Mt. Yonaguska
Marks Knob, 6169
Hike Descriptions: Marks Knob
Mt. Guyot, 6621
Hike Descriptions: Mt. Guyot
Old Black, 6370
Hike Descriptions: Old Black
D. Vicinity of Laurel Gap Shelter (Big Cataloochee and Luftee Knob)
The Laurel Gap Shelter (reservations required) is located on the Balsam Mountain Trail, 3.8 miles from Balsam Mountain Road and 6.3 miles from the Tri-Corner Knob Shelter. Hikers often overnight here to climb the nearby peaks and also those peaks near the Tricorner Knob Shelter.
Big Cataloochee (6155 feet) lies near the junction of the Balsam Mountain Trail and the Mt. Sterling Ridge Trail. It can be reached by bushwhacking from the junction across the intervening Balsam Corners Mountain to Big Cataloochee, or better going down Mt. Sterling Ridge Trail, where just beyond a rocky stream bed that crosses the trail, a very steep ridge goes up to the left. Bushwhacking up this ridge will lead to the summit of Big Cataloochee.
The Balsam Mountain Trail passes along the flank of Luftee Knob (6234 feet) about 2.8 miles from the junction with Mt. Sterling Ridge Trail and about 3.2 miles from the junction with the Appalachian Trail. Although Luftee Knob is obvious, hikers often confuse it with adjacent mountains and climb the wrong one. Luftee is a very tough and steep bushwhack. The best way to ascend is from the south, bushwhacking up to the crest of the ridge and following a man way to the summit.
Luftee Knob, 6234
Hike Descriptions: Luftee Knob
Big Catalooche, 6155
Hike Descriptions: Big Cataloochee
SMOKIES AREA MAPS
SB6K Smokies East Area Topo Map
SB6K Smokies East Area Map
SB6K Smokies West Area Topo Map
SB6K Smokies West Area Map