Benton MacKaye Trail

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The Benton MacKaye Trail is an approximately 300 mile trail which tours Georgia, Tennessee, and North Carolina.  The trail begins exactly where the Appalachian Trail does - Springer Mountain, Georgia. 

The Benton MacKaye Trail, however, winds westward, away from the Appalachian Trail, and visits eight Federally-protected Wilderness Areas before intersecting the Appalachian Trail in the southern portion of the Great Smoky Mountains.  The trail ends, however, at Davenport Gap, where it rejoins the Appalachian Trail.  The Benton MacKaye Trail offers a different route through the sections the Appalachian Trail passes through, making it a great alternative for multi-day hikers.

The Benton MacKaye Trail is managed and maintained by the Benton MacKaye Trail Association.  The association was organized in 1979 and began planning and making the trail in 1980.  The trail was finally finished in 2005 and was named for the man who started it, Benton MacKaye.  The trail followed his original plan and dream of an Appalachian Mountain Trail.

In the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, the Benton MacKaye Trail winds up mountains and along the shoreline of Lake Fontana in the North Carolina side of the park.  The trail covers approximately 93.7 miles in the park and has various campsites to choose from for an overnight stay.  The middle portion of the trail merges with the Mountains to Sea Trail at Deep Creek and then later breaks off at Newton Bald.  To reserve a campsite for an overnight stay, you can call the Backcountry Office at (865) 436-1231. 

The Benton MacKaye Trail is highlighted in yellow on the Great Smoky Mountains National Park map.  Visit the trail's official Web site at

Click here for an overview map of the whole Benton MacKaye Trail.

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