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Benton MacKaye
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Trail Overall

US Forest Service Alerts and Notices

BMT - Southern Section, Springer Mountain to Double Springs Gap, Georgia/Tennessee State Line, Mileage 81.1

BMT-Middle Section, Georgia/Tennessee State Line, Mileage 81.1 to Great Smoky Mountains National Park

BMT-Northern Section, Great Smoky Mountains National Park

BMT-Yellowcreek Reroute

Suggested Maps

Anyone interested in these maps should check details such as area covered, map scale, shipping costs, etc. before making a purchase.

Trail Markers and Navigation

The trail is marked by a 5" wide x 7" high standard white blaze everywhere outside of designated Wilderness. A few odd-sized blazes may be noted where post width is insufficient to fit a standard blaze. No painted blazes of any kind are permitted in Wilderness. (The single exception is the six-mile stretch immediately south of the Georgia state line.) Half-scale wooden diamond 'blazes' (which are classified as 'signs') are currently being tested in the Big Frog Wilderness with hopes for their future use in all Wilderness areas. They appear at only two points near each trail intersection and at one point on each side of questionable creek crossings.

Double blazes - one over the other - are placed just before turns and just before any areas of potential confusion. They convey the standard meaning, "Heads up! -or- Watch for a turn in the trail."

In Georgia, the longest established trail, there should be road signs each way wherever the trail crosses a public road and flexible, brown, plastic sign posts with trail marker decals about 50 to 100 yards into the woods from each trailhead. In Tennessee and North Carolina, there are both wood and painted metal signs but the coverage is not complete, as it is in Georgia. Hikers should be extra cautious to follow the trail at unsigned intersections until this work is done.

The BMT route through the Smokies is marked at trail intersections with distinctive decals affixed to short, brown, plastic sign segments and mounted on existing wood sign posts, as allowed by the National Park Service. The decals are a dark green color with a white diamond on the face; the words "Benton MacKaye Trail" appear inside the diamond.

2014 Yellow Creek Reroute Information

The section of the BMT between the Joyce Kilmer Slickrock Wilderness and the Great Smoky Mountains National Park was rerouted in 2014 to eliminate the dangerous road walk on Route 129 and allow hikers access to facilities at Fontana Village to resupply, get back country permits, etc. This reroute added almost 5 miles to the overall length of the Trail, and is well signed on the ground. Here is a brief description for northbound hikers:

From the Slickrock Trailhead, follow NC 129 SOUTH 0.5 miles to Meadow Branch Road. Turn left, hike up Meadow Branch 100 feet and you will see the James. F. Burchfield Trailhead just across a small bridge. Follow that trail 1.8 miles to the crossing of Old Field Gap Road.

Cross Old Field Gap road and follow the gated Forest Service Road 0.5 miles to a sign post and a left hand turn to go up a small hill and reach the ridge. This gated road is not open to the public, but logging trucks may use it at times. From the ridge mentioned above, follow the obvious trail east for about 3.2 miles to intersect the Forest Service Road again. Continue to follow it east along the ridge for 1.3 miles to its end, then continue east along the ridge on the trail. There may be heavy brush on this unused section of Forest Service Road. The trail follows the ridge east, crosses under the power lines and continues east along the ridge over Yellow Creek Mountain to Green Gap, which is a total of 7.4 miles from Old Field Gap Road.

At Green Gap, turn left and descend the "Stairway to Heaven" Trail (very steep) down to the Fontana Village area. From Green Gap, the Fontana Lodge, with Internet access for National Park Back Country Camping Permits, is 1.6 miles.

From Fontana Lodge, you may get back on the BMT and head east 3 miles to the intersection with the Appalachian Trail, turning left at the junction, descending the hill to cross NC Route 28 at Fontana Crossing by the Fontana Marina. You may also get a shuttle from Fontana Village to this point. For hikers, continue to follow the Appalachian Trail past the Fontana "Hilton" Shelter and across the Fontana Dam.

At the far end of the Dam, turn right and continue following the AT/paved road about a mile to the signed trailhead. At this point, the AT goes left and up over Shuckstack, while the BMT separates and follows the Lakeshore Trail 5.3 miles to join the existing BMT at Lost Cove area. From there, just continue on the BMT as shown on maps and guidebooks.

Please Leave No Trace

The BMTA asks that you follow Leave No Trace guidelines. Leave only footprints, take away only memories.


Enjoy the hike-a-little/fish-a-little approach? Check out the Fish the BMT page.

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All content copyright 2003-2015 by Benton MacKaye Trail Association, Inc. All rights reserved.
Little hiker photo courtesy of Eric Lewis; Giant Citico Mushroom, of Ken Jones; and Quarry Blaze, of Diana Ristom