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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.

Mt. Sterling Backpacking Trip

The Basics:
Event Type:Backpacking
Event Location: Mt. Sterling, NC (GSMNP)
Date(s) & Time:Sat, Aug 28 2021  7:00 am >> Sun, Aug 29 2021 6:00 pm  (Carpool Departure: 7:00 am   *log in for location*)
Registration Opens: Fri, Aug 13 2021 6:00 pm
Registration Cut Off: Fri, Aug 27 2021 10:00 am
Event Duration:1 Days 11 Hours
Difficulty Rating:D5: Difficult (Exploratory)
Distance:12 Miles
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:3
Number Registered So Far: 3 / 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 an extremely challenging, but also very rewarding backpacking trip to the summit of Mt. Sterling.

We will steadily climb along the Baxter Creek trail, culminating with 360 degree views of the Smokies from an old firetower. But this trip is not for the average or novice backpacker. The trail gains 4100 feet in only 6.2 miles! That's about the equivalent of hiking from the bottom of the Grand Canyon to the South Rim. I'm not aware of any other trail that is as challenging in the Southeast.

The trailhead begins at the Big Creek picnic area, well be there around 10:45. There is a water source about 1/2 mile before we get to the summit. Bring or plan on borrowing a water filter. We'll probably make it back to the Big Creek picnic area by 1:00 pm on Sunday. We'll plan on stopping somewhere to eat on the way back to Atlanta.

The cost of the permit for this trip is $32. Each participant should expect to pay their proportionate share (i.e., $4-$5, depending on how many people sign up).If you cancel at the last minute you have to pay your share.

(Thanks to Bob Bunner for the original itinerary)

Required Items to Bring:

1 lunch

1 dinner

1 breakfast

2 liters of water


warm jacket

See Event Checklists ("Backpacking").

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

Bring some snacks because we probably won't eat until around 2:30 pm on Sunday.

How to Get There:
Event Directions:Big Creek Campground

35.75156, -83.10951

Carpool to Event Distance (round trip):372Mile(s)
Carpool Departure Time: 7:00 am
Carpool Location:   Log in for location
Carpool Directions:   Log in for directions
Carpool Cost: Estimated cost per vehicle for this event is $148.80 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.


Because of the difficulty of the hike to the summit of Mt. Sterling, I may contact every participant to discuss whether this is an appropriate trip for you.

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

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