I decided to have one last “hike hurrah” before I start grad school up for the semester so I drove to my parent’s (new) house near the Cosby entrance to the National Park to summit a (small) mountain.
My Dad decided he was also up for the challenge so I didn’t hike this one alone. It was also a lesson is slowing down when I hike and actually taking the time to take everything in. I usually am a little time constrained in the winter trying to fight the daylight hours after having to drive 3-4 or more hours roundtrip. Plus, he was, like, really excited to be in my hiking blog (which I am pretty sure he’s like one of 3 people who actually read it but WHATEVER).
Mt. Cammerer just barely misses the 5,000 ft mark at 4,928ft. So, by no means sky high, but it was a decently challenging and fun hike with over 3,000 feet of elevation gain.
Starting at the Cosby Campground, you take the (mostly switchback-y and uphill) Low Gap Trail until it intersects the Appalachian Trail. You then follow the AT to the Mt. Cammerer Trail which takes you to the lookout/fire tower summit. After reading reviews, I admit, I was a little intimidated thinking it was going to be a ridiculously hard hike. It was no walk in the park, but, honestly, I think Fiery Gizzard and some of the South Cumberland Trails are more difficult. (Maybe it’s because over half of those trails are rocks and boulders and you literally cannot go faster than 1 mph.)
That being said, it was a great trail. Hiking in the winter means that you can see the mountains surrounding you through the bare trees, which is one of the many reasons I love it. There was a small stream crossing right at the beginning but the rest of the way is an easy-to-follow path up the mountain (just follow signs to Mt. Cammerer). At the top, you are greeted by a no-longer-in-use fire tower and 360 degree views of the Smokies. Some say these are some of the best views in the park and although I haven’t hiked every trail, the views were pretty stunning.
Distance from Nashville: 3.5 hours
Trailhead: Cosby Campground
Trail: Low Gap Trail to (part of the) Appalachian Trail to the Mt Cammerer Summit Trail, then back down the way you came
Length of Trail: 11.2 miles
Overview: You climb a mountain and see pretty things. It’s hard but not impossible and definitely worth it.