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1-night loop suggestions for GSMNP


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We ended up doing the Bradley Creek Trail/Chasteen Creek Trail loop. It is a total of about 17.6 miles. I chose this trail based on the "book" description of it being a moderate trail with no stream/river crossings without a bridge. (I stopped in the Ranger's station on the way out to get a pic of the trail off a topographical relief map...I added the notes about the nights...)


Day 1 was about 3.8 miles mostly up a steady incline. It wasn't too bad but my daughter and wife were ready to be done for the day. It was taking them a bit of time to get used to carrying their backpacks. We stayed at camp 48. The weather was great, sunny and 58. However that night it got cold...down to about 26-28 or so (I'm guessing based on forecasts). Luckily we had planned accordingly and slept rather well.


A few pictures I took on the way to the trailhead...



Day 2 was a bit longer....about 8.7 miles. The weather again was great. The first 2 miles were up a pretty steep grade with switchbacks. It was a little bit of a downer when we reached an intersection of the trail after about 2.5 hours that indicated we had only gone 1.7 miles. I was concerned we weren't going to make the next camp before dark! Once the trail began decending again, it was down a pretty good downgrade that wasn't fun either. However, after a little while the slope become much less severe and was absolutely beautiful. We reached a point in the trail where we had to head to the next camp (camp 49). We briefly discussed just heading out since the next day's forecast had called for rain. However, we decided to stick with our original plan and head to the camp. We were glad we did. The camp was pretty cool and that night was not nearly as cold as the night before....everyone slept soundly.

Day 3 was 5.1 miles back out to Smokemont Campground (the start of the trail). The day started out overcast with just a few little spits of rain here and there. We were able to get all of our gear packed down and hit the trail without any real wetness. After about a mile the rain started falling steadily, but not hard, so we donned our rain gear and kept on trucking. The trail was a nice easy downhill slope. We made it back to our car before noon and headed out to go get some much needed beer and pizza!

All in all, it was a fantastic experience. We had both camps completely to ourselves each night and only saw one other person on the entire trip (a lone backpacker going the other direction on the trail). All of us cannot wait to hit the trails again! A few lessons learned.....we brought way too much food, and not enough moonshine! LOL. I have a ton more pictures if there is anything specific you want to see, and feel free to ask any questions.

Some random shots from the trail....




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Thanks for the update and the pics, I've never been in that area of the park before. Glad the weather mostly cooperated for you. Out of curiosity, did the campsites appear "overused", i.e. junk in fire rings?

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Not a loop but a nice easy overnight hike for beginners. Also a great dayhike. Start at access off roaring fork motor loop. Nice rolling trails that follows the ridges. Can stay at campsite 32 (I think) and follow the man-way (rather than the trail) out. The man-way is an access trail that comes out right at the Greenbrier Ranger Station. Just follow the stream downstream from the campsite. This is an easy three mile out that is all downhill or level. It passes some neat old cemeteries and has some great foot logs. There is also the remains of a steam traction engine in a creek from a wreck many years. Campsite does have bear cable and there was a hootowl chorus at night.

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The campsites did not seem too bad. There was some trash (really just a few bits here and there) in the fire pits. It wasn't enough to look trashy, but it was enough for my wife to comment on it. It is really disappointing that people do that. It isn't that hard to just pack up your trash and carry it out. The cable systems were in good order and there wasn't trash laying about in the general areas. What was great was that we had both sites completely to ourselves. It was like we were the only people on earth for a few days.

We may make it a habit to travel there over spring break and do some hiking. Although it got cold the first night, it was manageable. I imagine if the weather was crappy during the day, that would be a different story. We would like to explore a different area of the park next time.....hopefully one with some more wildlife as we didn't really see much on this trip. Just a few turkeys, squirrels, woodpecker, etc. We did like that we were able to leave our vehicle in the campground. We felt there was much less of an opportunity for any sort of vandalism (I don't know if that is a big issue or not).

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