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Post by Kristian on Sat Jun 06, 2009 3:09 pm

I wrote this trip report back in '06:


I recently returned from a fall camping trip to Cosby with my father and sister last weekend (Oct 7&Cool. Although we wanted to visit Cades Cove, we decided to escape the crowds by camping in the more remote Cosby campground. We planned on day hiking over the weekend, on Saturday going up Mt. Cammerer, and on Sunday hiking to Ramsey Cascades. When we arrived at the campground it was mostly empty, even though October is the second busiest month for the Smokies (after July). We drove around the campsite looking for a good spot and settled for the same campsite we camped in the past three times we visited Cosby. After erecting the tent, attempting to build a fire from soggy sticks, and enjoying our gourmet camping meal of watered down packaged Alfredo with noodles; we retired for the long day of hiking ahead of us.

Saturday- Mt. Cammerer

The trail up to Mt. Cammerer fire tower is 4.5 miles up and 4.5 miles down, with 2000 feet of elevation gain, so we started the trail in the early morning. The trail tries to trick you in the beginning by starting out only with a small incline next to a beautiful cascading stream for the first mile or so, but not before long the incline picks up and you do the majority of the climbing in just a few miles. My sister and I were making this climb when from behind fifteen to twenty horses pass us.

Now don’t get me wrong; I love horses. What I don’t like is traversing the droppings they leave behind, up a trail that’s hard enough in the first place. I suppose it’s their trail just as much as mine, so I should suck it up and deal with it. We continued climbing after they passed us, making sure not to step in their excretions (which I disgustingly utterly failed to do a couple of times).

After the very most difficult climb we finally emerged on top of Low Gap, where we hiked on the AT, which follows the highest ridge of the Smokies through the park. This part of the trail I love and affords great views of the surrounding mountains. Often there is also a nice breeze to cool you off after the hard hike on the way up. The incline lessens greatly and it’s pretty much a pleasant two to three mile stroll to the fire tower.

About this time, a think fog came in and we were completely enclosed, obliterating any chance of views. By the time we reached the fire tower, we could see little more than the surrounding tress. Luckily at these high elevations the trees were at the height of their fall color, so we did have something pretty to look at while eating our sandwiches and trail mix.

I had hiked the trail previously before, and the views that time were great- well worth the hike, for those wondering that by now. When the skies are clear you get panoramic views, the town of Cosby on the left side, and the wilderness of the Smokies on the other.

I met two ladies at the fire tower who had hiked up about the same time as us. One asked me what my favorite trail was in the Smokies. I thought about it, but didn’t really know. I liked all the trails I had hiked, but none of them really stood out to me. After writing the following message in the guestbook, I started the hike back down again:

“Were fogged in; no views today. My hands are so cold I can barely write. –Kris ‘06”

That night we had delicious soup with toasted marshmallows over a roaring fire (we bought dry firewood from Pappy’s outside that park).

Sunday- Ramsey Cascades

After a warming breakfast of blueberry oatmeal, we made our sandwiches and drove out to Greenbrier. Since October is a peak-season, Greenbrier is close to Gatlinburg, and because Ramsey Cascades is a popular trail, I was expecting it to be crowded, but I was pleasantly surprised with only four other cars in the parking lot.

The trail started out with only a light incline on an old logging road. After crossing over what I assume to be Ramsey Creek, it meanders under a hardwood canopy for more than two miles, where the logging road runs out and is replaced by a normal trail. This crisscrosses the creek and climbs uphill under a thick canopy of Rhododendron (in June the blossoms would be beautiful). The trail gets progressively more difficult until towards the end you are literally climbing a super-long flight of steps. Finally, as you climb up the final flight of steps, you see Ramsey Cascades.

I liked the falls a lot, and I’d say that they are probably my favorite in the Smokies. It also hadn’t rained for a while, so the falls were probably at their worst. After eating our sandwiches we started our decent. A word of caution: be careful going down. My sister fell twice and could’ve hurt herself badly (luckily she didn’t). Knowing me, I fell on the way up twice in flat areas with nothing to trip on, and never fell on the way down. Smile

On the way down most everyone we passed asked us, with a pleading look in their eyes, how much further it was. Luckily most of them only had a couple hundred more feet to go. As we got towards the bottom, we saw several people without any snacks or water of any sort; not prepared at all. I even met one man who had business clothes on with dress shoes… he asked if he was almost there (he was only a mile up the trail). I got a chuckle out of that one!

When we reached the parking lot was full; had we not gone early in the morning we would have had to cope with the crowds. Luckily we didn’t, and I liked the trail a lot. In fact, I now know what my favorite trail in the Smokies is…"


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