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REGISTRATION REQUIRED: Once you've reviewed the event details, and decided you'd like to join us, you MUST sign up at the bottom of this page.

Jenkins Ridge Loop - GSMNP

The Basics:
Event Type:Backpacking
Event Location: Great Smoky Mountains National Park   Backpacking: Jenkins Ridge Loop - GSMNP  National Weather Service Forecast
Date(s) & Time:Thu, Oct 20 2016  6:30 am >> Sun, Oct 23 2016 6:00 pm  (Carpool Departure: 6:30 am   *log in for location*)
Registration Opens: Tue, Sep 27 2016 12:00 pm
Registration Cut Off: Tue, Oct 18 2016 6:00 pm
Event Duration:3 Days 11 Hours 30 Minutes
Difficulty Rating:D6: Advanced (Exploratory)
Distance:42 Miles
Trip Leader(s):
Mike Pawloski
Email Trip Leader(s)
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Member Cost:None

Participant Info:
Who's Invited: Members Only, 21 And Older Only
Maximum Group Size:8
Minimum Group Size:2
Number Registered So Far: 5 / 0 (To see who's signed up, log in to the Member Area)
Are Dogs Permitted: No

Note: This is an "EXPLORATORY" trip. This means that there are parts of this trip, or perhaps the whole trip, that is new to your Trip Leader(s). However, they are confident that this will not be an issue.
This note is here so that you can make an informed decision. When a Trip Leader isn't personally familiar with a trip, there is an increased chance of things not going as planned and you need to be prepared. The Trip Leader may have additional details in the itinerary.


This is a demanding 4 Day, 3 Night Backpack Trip. 

For safety reasons, Trip Leaders will be screening anyone who does not appear to have adequate backcountry experience.  Trip Leaders reserve the right to remove anyone from the attendee list.  

Beginning Thursday, we'll hike ~13 miles from Fontana Dam to camp site #85, Sawdust Pile. We'll set up camp and enjoy some dinner.  

Friday is a strenous ~13 mile hike to the Russell Field Shelter on the AT.  We'll start early continuing ~1 mile on Hazel Creek Trail then turn left (west) onto Jenkins Ridge Trail.  This trail is widely considered one of the most remote and challenging trails in the park.  It is described in "Hiking Trails Trails of The Smokies" (aka "The Brown Book") as follows..."Depending upon whether one is going up or down, this stretch is a lung buster or a knee breaker."  We'll be going up.  See the "Notes" section below for an elevation profile of the Jenkins Ridge Trail.

Here's a recent write-up and some pics of the Jenkins Ridge Trail.  The author here went from the AT down, opposite of what we'll be doing.  None the less it provides a good review.

Once we reach the AT, we go left (south) ~3 miles to Russell Field Shelter.  

We can decide as a group to go right (north) ~1 mile and see the iconic views from Rocky Top and Thunderhead Mountain.  See the red line on map below in the "Notes" section. (+2)

After a fun and relaxing night at the shelter, we'll start out early Saturday morning headng south on the AT.  After ~9 miles we'll end our day at camp site #113, Birch Spring Gap.  According to Park Rangers, as of 09/23/2016, water was scarce at Birch Spring Gap.  We can check conditions prior to departure.  

Sunday morning we'll start early and continue down the AT and hike ~5 miles back to the trailhead where we started.

DAY 1 Thursday, October 20, 2016 Fontana Dam Parking   Sawdust Pile #85 13
DAY 2 Friday, October 21, 2016 Sawdust Pile #85   Russell Field Shelter 13 (+2)
DAY 3 Saturday, October 22, 2016 Russell Field Shelter   Birch Spring Gap #113 9
DAY 4 Sunday, October 23, 2016 Birch Spring Gap #113   Fontana Dam Parking 5
          40 (+2)


Required Items to Bring:

If you sign-up for this you should know what to bring!!  

Tent, sleeping bag, sleeping pad, appropriate clothing, rain gear, headlamp, cooking utensils, food and water, PMA (Positive Mental Attitude), Sense of Humor!

Please bring sufficient cash to cover permit costs and car pool costs if you plan to travel as a passenger with another attendee.  

The Permit Fees are $4 per person per night.  The total will be divided equally amongst the number of attendees.

Recommended Items to Bring:
Use our Event Checklists to make sure you have everything you need.

Use our Event Checklists to make sure you have everything you need.

Camera, hat, water filtration system, beverage of choice if you're so inclined, fire starter, first aid kit, sven saw, gifts for Trip Leaders.

How to Get There:
Event Directions:

Fontana Dam Trailhead Parking

Carpool to Event Distance (round trip):300Mile(s)
Carpool Departure Time: 6:30 am
Carpool Location:   Log in for location
Carpool Directions:   Log in for directions
Carpool Cost: Estimated cost per vehicle for this event is $120.00 using a reimbursement rate guideline of $0.400 per mile. The total amount should be divided by the number of people in the vehicle, including the driver. This is a guideline, not a rule, for drivers but the cost should not be higher unless there are extenuating circumstances.


* We encourage all members to follow our Etiquette Guidelines while participating in AOC events.

Cancellation/Partial Attendance:   Please review the AOC cancellation policy.