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BMT: Segment 20 (Twentymile Ranger Station to AT)



5.3 mile 8.5 kilometer point to point
83% Runnable


Ascent: 2,336' 712 m
Descent: 0' 0 m
High: 3,640' 1,109 m
Low: 1,303' 397 m


Avg Grade: 8% (5°)
Max Grade: 21% (12°)


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Trail shared by Richard Harris

The Benton MacKaye Trail section from Twentymile Ranger Station to the AT.

Richard Harris

Features Commonly Backpacked · Fall Colors · Views · Wildlife

Section Of

Need to Know

For more information, visit the Benton MacKaye Trail Association's website.

Boat Access to the Lakeshore Trail is provided by the Fontana Village Resort Marina (18a) to several sites along the Lakeshore Trail. Make arrangements by contacting the marina at 828-498-2211 ext. 277. Common drop off sites are Eagle Creek, Hazel Creek, Pilkey, Chambers, and Forney Creeks.


Points of Interest: This section of the trail covers from the Twentymile Ranger Station to the intersection with the AT. The name "Twentymile" does not refer to the length of a trail. The name comes from the distance from the mouth of Twentymile Creek to the town of Bushnell. Bushnell was once a very popular lumber town and is now covered by the water of Fontana Lake.

In the 1890's logging in this area was conducted using the "cut and float" method. A series of small splash dams were constructed in order to back up the water in Twentymile Creek. When the dams were released the huge gush of water sent big tree trunks to the Little Tennessee River where they were transported to Chattanooga to be sawn.

Most of the Twentymile Trail is part of the sixteen miles of old railway bed that was laid by the Kitchen Lumber Company. After the lumber company left the area, the Park acquired the land and the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) developed the road for vehicle access to the Shuckstack Fire Tower.

Backpackers can make their backcountry campsite reservations at the Twentymile Ranger Station, which is generally unmanned. Pick up the phone and you'll be connected with the Backcountry Reservations desk. Also, their phone number is 865-436-1231 and they are open 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily. Trail maps are usually available at the kiosk by the ranger station for $1.

Trail Description: Starting from the Twentymile Ranger Station at mile 192.0, run up the railroad grade toward Shuckstack. Past the gate, you'll see a horse corral on your left at mile 192.4. At mile 192.5 the Wolf Ridge Trail goes left up the ridge to intersect the Twentymile Loop Trail and on to Campsite #95 2.0 miles up the trail. Go right staying along Twentymile Creek. Shortly past this intersection is a side trail to Twentymile Cascade. At mile 193.9 is Twentymile Creek Campsite #93. At mile 195.1, you reach Proctor Field Gap and the intersection with the Long Hungry Ridge Trail and the Twentymile Loop Trail. Proctor Fields used to be a farm settlement owned by the Proctors and old stone foundations are still visible. Continue straight ahead following the old roadbed up the ridge to Sassafras Gap and the intersection with the AT at mile 197.1. The 0.1 mile side trail off the AT (19f) to the Shuckstack Fire Tower (19g) is 0.3 miles south on the AT and well worth the side trip.

Do not make the mistake of dropping your pack at Sassafras Gap and heading to the Tower. The bears in that area are very quick to attack packs for food, and many hikers have returned from Shuckstack Tower only to find their packs have been ransacked by the bears. Even dropping your pack at the base of the tower is asking for trouble.

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One of six stream crossings near the beginning of the Twentymile Trail. Two of these small bridges are in a slight state of disrepair.
Mar 24, 2016 near Robbins…, NC
The first of six stream crossings near the beginning of the Twentymile Trail.
Mar 24, 2016 near Robbins…, NC
Long Hungry Ridge Trail north of Proctor Field Gap. with permission from Mike Lerch
Apr 1, 2016 near Robbins…, NC
Twentymile Trail near the Long Hungry Ridge Trail Junction. with permission from Mike Lerch
Mar 25, 2016 near Robbins…, NC


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