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Benton MacKaye Trail

Intermediate
  5.0 ( 3 ) Favorite

Trail

292.3 mile 470.4 kilometer point to point
88% Runnable
Intermediate

Elevation

Ascent: 54,682' 16,667 m
Descent: -56,808' -17,315 m
High: 5,779' 1,761 m
Low: 755' 230 m

Grade

Avg Grade: 6% (4°)
Max Grade: 22% (13°)

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A long distance trail with many opportunities for shorter backpacking and day running trips.

Richard Harris

Features Birding · Fall Colors · Lake · River/Creek · Spring · Swimming · Views · Waterfall · Wildflowers · Wildlife

Dogs are allowed on all sections of the trail except for the part that passes through Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

Overview

Stretching from Springer Mountain in Georgia, where the AT begins as well, to the northeast corner of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, the Benton MacKaye Trail is nearly 300 miles long. This trail can be through-hiked or section-hiked or done as part of a big 600 mile figure 8 loop with the AT. Unlike the AT, this trail is more primitive and provides more solitude, passing through several wilderness areas. There are only two shelters along the trail, so backpackers must carry a tent or tarp.

Run Sections

Need to Know

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

Dogs are not allowed on the sections of trail that pass through Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

Description

Connecting from Springer Mountain in Georgia to Big Creek Campground on the northern edge of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, the Benton Mackaye Trail (BMT) pass through the remote backcountry areas of Georgia, Tennessee, and North Carolina.

It is blazed with white diamonds where blazing is allowed. However, many miles of the trail are in designated wilderness areas where blazing is not permitted; in these locations, you'll find signs and need a reliable map and trail guide to follow the route.

The three basic sections of the Benton MacKaye Trail are Georgia, Tennessee-North Carolina, and the Great Smoky Mountains.

History & Background

Benton MacKaye Trail Association (BMTA) was organized in 1979 and incorporated in 1980 to build and maintain the BMT. Driving the effort was a desire to see opened for hiking Benton MacKaye's chosen route for his Appalachian mountain trail. MacKaye, Massachusetts forester and co-founder of The Wilderness Society, was the man whose vision inspired what is today the Appalachian Trail. In the south, he had selected a more westerly route, along the western crest of the Blue Ridge, roughly that followed today by the BMT. The trail was officially opened on July 16, 2005.

Running nearly 300 miles from Springer Mountain in Georgia to Big Creek Campground on the northern edge of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park (the Smokies), the BMT passes through some of the most remote backcountry in Georgia, Tennessee and North Carolina, including eight Wilderness Areas.

The BMTA is an all-volunteer, nonprofit organization whose commitment is to "provide a path for generations to follow".

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Trail Ratings

  5.0 from 3 votes

#394

Overall
  5.0 from 3 votes
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#5

in Georgia

#394

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Photos

Forest on Baxter Creek Trail in Great Smoky Mountains National Park
Jul 28, 2015 near Cove Creek, NC
Toccoa Swinging Bridge - Photo Credit Samantha Smith Taylor.
Dec 15, 2016 near Blue Ridge, GA
Forest on Baxter Creek Trail in Great Smoky Mountains National Park
Jul 28, 2015 near Cove Creek, NC
The awesome panoramic view atop the Mt. Sterling fire tower.
Oct 31, 2015 near Cove Creek, NC
A sunny morning on the Baxter Creek Trail about a mile or so above its namesake creek, as it passes through a rhododendron tunnel.
Apr 22, 2019 near Cove Creek, NC
Beautiful Long Creek Falls
Nov 10, 2017 near Ellijay, GA

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