This past Tuesday, I joined three friends for a 20 mile mega-hike around the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. We started at one iconic trailhead (Alum Cave) and ended at another (the Chimney Tops). Along the way we took in the sights at Alum Cave, Mt Leconte, the Cliff Tops, Myrtle Point, Anakeesta Knob, Newfound Gap, and the Right Prong Trail.

Here are some of the highlights of our trek:

  • We used two vehicles and had our choice of parking spots due to our early start. We got started on the Alum Cave trail at 7:20am.
  • We topped off our water at Mt. Leconte. Then we took in the sights at the Cliff Tops and Myrtle Point.
  • It was our first time on the Boulevard Trail. I loved how the trail has you hiking along the spine of a ridge with the forest all around and overhead.
  • We had great weather. It was in the sixties when we started and never rose above the mid-seventies.
  • We lunched around one on the trail that heads out to Charlie’s Bunion.
  • Once we got to Newfound Gap, it took us a minute to find our next trail, a portion of the AT. Eventually we found the marker for it across 411.
  • We took the AT over to the Right Prong Trail, and that took us back down to the Chimney Tops trailhead.
  • Including our diversions, our total distance was over 20 miles. I had over 47,000 steps registered on my Apple Watch. I mentioned to my friends that we’d been hiking so long that it seemed like I had memories of two or three other times we’d been hiking together, but all of those were actually just from that day.