BMT-AT Loop 2021
The Benton MacKaye Trail (BMT) is a 287.5 mile trail running from Springer Mountain in Georgia to Big Creek in North Carolina inside The Great Smoky Mountain National Park. A short connector to the Appalachian Trail (AT) in Big Creek makes it possible to loop the two for 500 miles of hiking. Benton MacKaye conceived the idea of the Appalachian Trail one-hundred years ago in 1921. His proposal for a scenic trail was a progressive response to labor movements and burgeoning environmentalism of his day:
The actual partaking of the recreative and non-industrial life—systematically by the people and not spasmodically by a few—should emphasize the distinction between it and the industrial life…Life and study of this kind should emphasize the need of going to the roots of industrial questions and of avoiding superficial thinking and rash action. The problems of the farmer, the coal miner, and the lumberjack could be studied intimately and with minimum partiality. Such an approach should bring the poise that goes with understanding.
— Benton MacKaye "An Appalachian Trail: A Project in Regional Planning"
Our hike will take us closer along MacKaye’s envisioned route: through remote sections of the Smokies, into the vast wilderness area of Cohutta and Big Frog, and over the Ocoee and Hiwassee Rivers. Traveling South-Bound (SOBO) on the Benton MacKaye we’ll head back north on the AT at Springer Mountain to complete the loop.