Benton MacKaye Trail "Road Walk" Eliminated

Published Aug 16, 2014

Benton MacKaye Trail

Benton MacKaye Trail

There's good news from our friends who lovingly maintain the Benton MacKaye Trail (BMT).

The BMT is a 300-mile footpath that can wend your way from Georgia's southern terminus for the Appalachian Trail at Springer Mountain through eight remote wilderness areas, past North Carolina, into Tennessee's Big Creek Campground in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

The Benton MacKaye Trail delves into some of the most remote parts of the southeast, but one of the most dangerous spots on the trail has been near Deals Gap -- Mecca to crazoids on motorcycles at the border of North Carolina and Tennessee.

Motorcycle wreckage proudly displayed at Deals Gap, near the BMT road walk.

Motorcycle wreckage proudly displayed at Deals Gap, near the BMT road walk. ~~ Photograph by Robert Sutherland

That's where the BMT followed Route 129 to Twentymile Ranger Station in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park (GSMNP) -- a distance of about 3-1/2 miles and/or 100 speeding motorcycles.

On February 24, 2014, President of the Benton MacKaye Trail Association (BMTA) David Blount announced that the BMTA reached an agreement with the National Park Service, the US Forest Service, The Nature Conservancy, Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency, Brookfield Energy Partners and Fontana Village to eliminate that perilous road walk.

The BMT will follow the Yellow Creek Mountain Trail from the Cheoah Dam/Tapoco area east along the Yellow Creek Ridge and descend to Fontana Village. Within the National Park, the trail will be relocated from its current starting point at Twentymile Ranger Station to begin at Lakeshore Trail. From there, it will intersect the current trail at Lost Cove Campsite in GSMNP.

BMTA work crews, assisted by the Sierra Club, American Hiking Society and Brookfield Energy Partners, will immediately start the process of clearing and marking the trail.

With the help of many volunteers, the new route will be completed in May. A Trail Opening Ceremony is scheduled for Saturday, May 31st to mark the event.

We extend our gratitude to all those involved in removing this obstacle to the quiet, safe passage on the beautiful Benton MacKaye Trail.

Click Here for Background on BMT Rerouting

Click Here for BMTA's Facebook Page

The Benton MacKaye Trail Association

Benton MacKaye (rhymes with sky) was a Massachusetts forester and co-founder of The Wilderness Society whose vision inspired what is today the Appalachian Trail.

BMTA was incorporated in 1980 to build and maintain the BMT. Driving the effort was a desire to see Benton MacKaye's chosen route for his Appalachian Mountain trail opened for hiking.

The BMTA's 25th anniversary year saw the original plan completed. The route officially opened on July 16, 2005.


Tags: Appalachian Trail, Hiking, and News

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