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Benton MacKaye Trail

Intermediate
 5.0 (3) RECOMMENDED ROUTE

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


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Map Key

287.2

Miles

462.3

KM

Point to Point

5,779' 1,761 m

High

755' 230 m

Low

53,404' 16,277 m

Up

55,479' 16,910 m

Down

6%

Avg Grade (3°)

24%

Max Grade (13°)

Dogs Leashed

Features Birding · Commonly Backpacked · 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.

Hike 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".

Contacts

Shared By:

Richard Harris with improvements by Larry Van Dyke

Trail Ratings

  5.0 from 3 votes

#455

Overall
  5.0 from 3 votes
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Recommended Route Rankings

#7

in Georgia

#455

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Photos

Forest on Baxter Creek Trail in Great Smoky Mountains National Park
Jul 28, 2015 near Cove Creek, NC
A young hiker enjoys the view of Whigg Meadow and beyond.
Aug 5, 2019 near Etowah, TN
Toccoa Swinging Bridge - Photo Credit Samantha Smith Taylor.
Dec 15, 2016 near Blue Ridge, GA
This hound doesn't think the Pack Animal prohibition applies to him.
Mar 29, 2017 near Robbins…, NC
Sycamore Creek
Jan 29, 2020 near Etowah, TN
Forest on Baxter Creek Trail in Great Smoky Mountains National Park
Jul 28, 2015 near Cove Creek, NC

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