Mount Cammerer

Mount CammererTO THE TRAILHEAD:  Head to the Cosby section of the Smoky Mountains National Park and make your way to Cosby Campground.  From here, go to the very back of the campground and park in the hiker parking lot for the Low Gap Trail.  The sign for the trailhead will be right outside the parking area.

THE HIKE:  Low Gap trail is the toughest three miles in the Smokies.  If you can make it passed this part, you can do the whole thing.  In under three miles, you will gain 3,000 feet in elevation.  This will have you huffing and puffing for certain.  This trail is the king of switchbacks in the Smokies.  They seem to be endless.  However, if you can get passed the zig-zags and climbing, there is much to see along the way.

Cosby creek is all around you as you begin the hike.  You will even cross over it on a footbridge.  There is a large diversity of trees, plants, and flowers on this single hike (again, due to the elevation changes).  Despite the easy access from Cosby Campground, you will rarely find this trail busy, most likely due to the difficulty.  However, this will give you a chance to view wildlife such as bears, snakes, squirrels, birds, and even wild turkey.

Once you get through the tough Low Gap Trail, you will come to the junction with the Appalachian Trail.  Take a left here to follow the white blazes of the AT for the next 2.4 miles.  The trail is not nearly as steep as in the previous section, but it does continue to climb.  Views are abundant through this section, so it is the perfect opportunity to slow down and take pictures.  After this section of trail, there is a .6 mile spur trail to get to the Mount Cammerer fire tower.

The tower is very different from the other fire towers in the park.  The stone base is topped with a hexagonal enclosed structure with 360 degree views.  There is actually a door and windows inside to keep out the elements; a great feature on a rainy or windy day.  Outside the tower, a 360 degree deck gives you panoramic views in all directions.  The views here rival those found anywhere else in the park.  It is worth the trip simply for the views alone.  Once you have taken everything in, head back down the way you came for a knee and back pounding 6.1 miles for a round-trip total of 12.2 miles.


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