Thru-Hikers = Gypsy-Like Group of Backpackers? Cool. New Fees to Camp in the Smokies? Not so cool.

Published Feb 23, 2012

The Great Smoky Mountains National Park is considering charging a "backcountry user fee" to help fund services provided to those who use the park.

This fee -- or tax -- is quite controversial. The future, however, is upon us. Governments and their agencies are looking everywhere to cut costs and increase revenues. commends Kurt Repanshek for writing the story that includes this excerpt:

"Another issue is how to deal with Appalachian Trail thru-hikers, a gypsy-like group of backpackers accustomed to traveling at their own pace, with a willingness to speed up, slow down, or layover when the desire and need strikes. How they would reserve campsites for specific dates could be problematic.

"There's comments on both sides of the equation about how we deal with thru-hikers on the Appalachian Trail ... the folks who camp in some of the more traditional campsites [say] 'don't treat them any different than us. We should all be treated equal,'" ... "And then thru-hikers are 'we should be treated different because we are different.'

"With a surge of thru-hikers coming through the park in April, that, too, could present a problem for other backcountry users hoping to enjoy the spring and early summer in the backcountry. Might thru-hikers leave others with few backcountry sites to reserve?

"Well, there is that rush of people when they start out in Georgia and they start hitting us, usually in April, and how do we manage those numbers and how do we identify them?"

Click Here for the Original Story at

Tags: Attractions, Tourism, Appalachian Trail, and Hiking

About the Author Robert Sutherland:
Robert Sutherland is a travel writer enjoying life. Robert has two adult daughters and six grandchildren.