Cherokee Hiking Club
198 Crews Drive, Benton, TN 37307
Friday-Sunday, September 5-7, 2008
Brief Description: This approximately 20 mile backpack trip over the long weekend will be in the Snowbird Wilderness near Robbinsville. We will meet on Friday at the Snowbird Parking Area after work. The Snowbird parking area is about 10 miles from the NC end of the Cherohala Skyway near Robbinsville. We will camp near the trailhead a short ways up the Big Snowbird Creek trail. On Saturday we will backpack up Big Snowbird Creek on FT 64/64A to Mitchell Lick. There is water in the campsite. On Sunday, we will continue on the crossover trail FT 154 to the Kings Meadows Trail (FT 63), then down to our cars. We won't get out until late Sunday afternoon. After the trip, we may stop at the Tellicafe for dinner. This backpack involves a lot of elevation rise (over 2000 feet) in a beautiful area of the forest.
Length: 20 miles total, about 8 on Saturday and 12 on Sunday. Saturday is uphill, Sunday is downhill.
Difficulty Rating: Difficult
Elevation Gain: 2300 feet of elevation gain
Map of the route
Hike Leader: Rick Harris, 423-253-6358 (H), 513-260-1184 (cell), HarrisRi@aol.com.
Directions to the Trailhead: We will meet on Friday at the Big Snowbird Creek trailhead. To get there, drive over the skyway to the end in NC. Turn right, staying on NC 143 to Snowbird Road SR 1115, 4.7 miles from the end of the Skyway. Turn right onto SR1115 and go 1.9 miles and turn right at the store. Go 0.3 miles and take a sharp left. Go 1.0 mile, then turn right, cross Little Snowbird Creek and follow this road along Big Snowbird Creek to the end of the road in 6.2 miles. The last 4 miles are on a dirt forest service Road. The entire route from NC 143 is Snowbird Road, though there are a lot of turns.
Trail Description: The trail in places has not been well maintained, but it is not difficult to follow. In the lower stretches near the parking area, the trail is in great shape. We will backpack up the Snowbird Creek trail to near the crest of the mountain, over 2000 feet of elevation gain, then down the Kings Meadows Trail back to our car.
Post Trip Report: Only Brenda and Rick Harris went on this backpack, so we left of Thursday about noon and came out on Friday about 6PM. We shortened the trip by a day because Hurricane Hannah was heading our way and we wanted to avoid the rain. We backpacked up the Snowbird Trail past the Big Falls and Middle Falls and camped at the Meadow Branch campsite just above the Upper Falls. Thus on Thursday we backpacked 7.3 miles with an elevation gain of 1000 feet. The water in the creek was low due to lack of any recent rain. Jake, our golden retriever was with us as well. We were unfortunately joined by 5 other hunting dogs with tracking collars who stayed with us most of the trip. They spend the night with us but had taken off in the early AM treeing some animal on a distant ridge. We could hear them. But, they returned and caught up with us on the trail. On Friday we backpacked on up the trail to the intersection with the Crossover Trail, then followed it to the intersection with the Kings Meadow Trail close to Hooper Bald. The peak elevation on the trail was 5000 feet near the intersection with the Kings Meadow Trail. At that point we were only about a half mile from the bald itself, but we had decided to pack out all the way because of the impending hurricane. We ate our supper (in place of our lunch) at the last place to get water, which is a creek crossing about a half mile before you get to the Kings Meadow Trail. We then took the old Kings Meadow Trail down the old forest service road to Deep Gap. The road is in terrible shape due to 4-wheelers tearing it up. At Deep Gap we found the foot trail heading to the south, leaving the 4-wheeler road. This old trail is in terrible shape and has not been maintained in years. It was fairly level for a couple of miles, then headed steeply downhill toward our car. About a half mile from our car, we intersected with what we presume is the new trail, which is well groomed and in great shape. We turned left and returned to our car via the footbridge over Snowbird Creek. Total hiking distance of Friday was 10.8 miles. Our starting elevation was about 3600 feet, high point was 5000 feet, and the parking lot is about 2750 feet. I plan to go back for a day hike sometime soon up the "new" Kings Meadow Trail and see where it goes and where we missed it. My GPS and the Snowbird map only shows the old route. The new route is definitely not adequately signed to allow one to find it at the top of the mountain or wherever it is that it intersects with the old trail. This would be a great backpack if the new trail bypasses the old Kings Meadow Trail.
PS: I indeed did check out the "new trail" a week or so after our backpack. Unfortunately it peters out about a quarter mile above where the "old" Kings Meadow Trail leaves this nice trail. It just goes nowhere, just ends...... The maintenance of the trails in the Snowbird Wilderness certainly leaves a lot to be desired. This is unfortunate, since it is such a pretty area.
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