Great Smoky Mountains National Park
107 Park Headquarters Road
Gatlinburg, TN 37738
HIGHLIGHTS: Great Smoky Mountains National Park encompasses 800 square miles of land and 95 percent of it is forested. The park is world renowned for the diversity of its plant and animal resources and for the beauty of its ancient mountains. Unfortunately, the majority of the people that visit the park never visit the backcountry and see some of the best wilderness in the Southeastern U.S.
This shuttle hike starts at US 441 and the junction with the Thomas Divide Trail. There is a very small area for a few vehicles to park parallel on the road – but no parking beyond that. From here, the Thomas Divide Trail makes a series of ascents and descents until it reaches the Sunkota Ridge Trail after 4.7 miles. At this intersection, the Thomas Divide Trail continues for 0.4 miles to reach the Newton Bald Trail which drops 5.4 miles over 2800 feet down to US 441 near Smokemont. There is better parking at this trailhead – especially if you use the parking area across the bridge from US 441.
Newton Bald campsite #52 is located near the junction of the Thomas Divide and Newton Bald Trails and it has room for a few tents. A reliable spring is located about 50 yards downhill from the campsite. The forest has reclaimed Newton Bald – so don’t expect exceptional views from here – although winter views can be seen from the campsite looking to the north and northwest. You can visit the Park website to reserve this site in advance which is limited to eight backpackers.