From the BMTA:


Reroute Newsor
"Mabel, them North Carolina folks are at it agin!"
By Dick Evans

The route for any trail is a much more complex thing to determine than most folks would guess. While it is easy to draw a line on a map and say, "Let's put a Trail here," the reality is much different. Land ownership and usage issues, access, topography and other factors combine to make seemingly simple issues quite complex, involving at times many different "stakeholder" groups, with different goals and guidelines.

This was certainly the situation when the Benton MacKaye Trail was first being laid out. While the route within Georgia to the Ocoee River was fairly straight forward, beyond there was fraught with issues. Planners knew they wanted to get to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, there were very few ways this could be done. In addition, the GSMNP Policy of no new trail miles, in place since 1985, added difficulties to this process. While GSMNP folks were very helpful in the process, it became obvious in late 2013 that either we had to accept the 3.5 mile road walk from Deals Gap to Twentymile Ranger Station for many years, or find another route. In December, 1014 and January 2015, Ernie Engman and I scouted the old Yellow Creek Mountain Trail on the south side of the Little Tennessee River drainage on land owned by the Forest Service, and found that, although unmaintained for years, it could be cleared and provide a great path to the Park. In addition, the Forest Service had kept the route on their active trail list, so no detailed environmental assessment was needed. As readers know, the Yellow Creek Reroute was approved and cleared within an astounding 7 months last year, providing hikers a safe and beautiful route between the Joyce Kilmer Slickrock Wilderness and the National Park.

Likewise, the route chosen through the Joyce Kilmer Slickrock Wilderness was first requested to go over Stratton Bald, Haoe, past the Hangover, one of the premier viewpoints in the southern Appalachians, and down to Big Fat Gap and hence out at Slickrock Creek Trailhead. However, the final route was to follow Fodderstack Ridge north from the Cherohala to Farr Gap, then down to cross Slickrock Creek and out. While normally
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