BMT: Segment 25b (Pretty Hollow Gap to Davenport Gap)
ElevationAscent: 640' 195 m
Descent: -4,163' -1,269 m
High: 5,779' 1,761 m
Low: 1,683' 513 m
GradeAvg Grade: 11% (6°)
Max Grade: 33% (18°)
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“The section of the Benton MacKaye Trail from Pretty Hollow Gap to Davenport Gap.”— Richard Harris
Trail Description: From Pretty Hollow Gap at mile 278.3 run up over a knob then down into a gap then back up another ridge to a trail junction just south of Mount Sterling itself at mile 279.6. The Mount Sterling Trail goes to the right and the Baxter Creek Trail goes straight on up to the top of Mount Sterling, the highest point on the BMT at 5842'. Follow the Baxter Creek Trail to the Mount Sterling Campsite #38 at mile 280.1. Adjacent to the campsite is the old Mount Sterling Firetower. Past the firetower, the trail begins its steady descent 4000 feet to Big Creek Campground. For the first couple of miles the trail follows the crest of Mount Sterling Ridge At mile 281.9, there is a sign for the now unmaintained Big Branch Trail going off to the right. After this sign, the trail heads down the side slope of the mountain with the Baxter Creek valley on your right. You work around the point of the ridge to the west and then follow another ridgeline down toward Big Creek with now a separate tributary of Baxter Creek on your right. Finally you'll reach the bridge over Big Creek at mile 286.2. The BMT ends at this point.
Campsites: Camping is available at the Mount Sterling Campsite #38 (reservations required) at mile 280.1 and at Big Creek Campground at the end of the BMT. The Big Creek Campground is open March 15 through October 31 and charges $14 per site. Advance reservations are highly recommended. There is a phone at the Big Creek Ranger Station which connects you to the Backcountry Reservations line for making backcountry campsite reservations as well as camping reservations for Big Creek Campground.
Water Sources: Water is available about 0.3 miles north of the Mount Sterling campsite on a 0.2 mile side trail (should treat) and at Big Creek Campground (potable). Also, there are several seeps and small streams which cross the trail, especially at mile 284.6. During dry weather, there may be long stretches of the trail with no readily accessible water.
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Land Manager: NPS - Great Smoky Mountains National Park