Benton MacKaye Trail

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The Benton MacKaye Trail is a 288 mile foot path sharing its southern terminus with the Appalachian Trail at Springer Mountain in Georgia. It traverses through North Carolina as well and ends at Davenport Gap in the Great Smokey Mountains National Park in Tennessee. For those who are keen on AT history, you may recognize the name Benton MacKaye as the Massachusetts born forester who first envisioned the idea of a foot path stretching from Georgia to Maine. He is also the namesake of the trail that serves as an excellent AT alternative or add-on.

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The iconic image of Benton MacKaye gazing out into the Appalachian mountains he would help connect via the AT.

Following the white diamond blazes of the BMT, you will cover similar territory as the AT but take a more northerly route after crossing paths with the AT a few times close to Springer Mountain. The two trails meet back together again at the northern end of the Smokey Mountains. If the 288 miles of the BMT just aren’t enough, you can head right back to Springer Mountain via the AT, adding another 234 miles to the hike.

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Known as the AT-BMT Loop (or figure 8), this 521 mile hike takes you through a full sampling of the best the Southern Appalachians have to offer.

For those of you interested in day hiking, the BMT is an excellent scenic alternative if you have explored much of the AT already. It crosses over beautiful rivers like the Taccoa, Ocoee, and Hiawasee. It also takes you along a lesser utilized stretch of trail in the Smokey Mountains as well. For more specifics about accessing the BMT, check out the Benton MacKaye Trail Association‘s page.

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A tree in which the BMT and AT both have a blaze.

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