The Benton MacKaye Trail (BMT) is a footpath of nearly 300 miles (480 km) through the Appalachian mountains of the southeastern United States. It is designed for foot travel in the tradition of the Appalachian Trail (AT).
Running from Springer Mountain in Georgia to Davenport Gap 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 federally designated Wilderness and Wilderness Study Areas. For further information on the trail, visit the BMT Vital Info page.
There are numerous access points and trailheads along the BMT route creating many options for one-way and loop hikes, and several more in combination with local trails. Longer hikes are possible on the BMT by doing a partial or full thru-hike. And the longest walks are done by also using the three major intersecting trails, the Pinhoti, the AT, and the 900-plus mile Mountains-to-Sea Trail.
Because the BMT intersects the AT at each terminus and in the middle, three large hikable loops are formed in a figure 8: a lower circle of 364 miles, an upper Smokies-only walk of 158 miles, and 'The BMT Loop' - a complete circuit hike of over 500 miles. The Georgia Loop, "toughest hike in Georgia", is a 55-mile triangle of the BMT, the AT and the Duncan Ridge Trail. In the Eastern Continental Trail; the 4400-plus mile route from Key West, Florida to Cape Gaspe, Quebec, Canada; the BMT connects the Pinhoti and Appalachian Trails. For more hiker information, check the Hiker Resources page.
The 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 (rhymes with sky), 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 BMTA's 25th anniversary year saw the original plan completed as the route was officially opened on July 16, 2005.
As with most trail organizations, the BMTA is an all-volunteer, nonprofit group of folks who want to see the trail remain open and in good shape. Those who live close enough and are able gather regularly to work on maintaining the trail, also to hike and for special events. They and others contribute through their membership.
Your support is welcome. Becoming a member, participating in or leading maintenance and/or recreational outings, adopting a section of trail, serving on the BMTA board of directors, being a project leader, assisting with administrative needs, and/or making a financial donation are all ways in which you can lend a hand. It's easy to join and when you keep your membership current, you're helping us maintain and improve the trail. See the Want to Help? page for a list of current needs.
Any and all are invited to participate in BMTA outings; no experience is necessary and membership is not required. Join us!
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