• Approximately 1,500 black bears live in the national park.

    Great Smoky Mountains

    National ParkNC,TN

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  • *** Please check the "Backcountry Facilities" section of the Temporary Road and Facilities Closures for any current trail or campsite closures or contact the Backcountry Office at 865-436-1297.
    *** A section of Cooper Road Trail temporarily closed -- between Wet Bottoms Trail and the junction with Beard Cane/Hatcher Mountain Trails -- due to a prescribed burn in the area. The Abrams Falls Trail remains open and those who are traveling from Cades Cove to Abrams Creek Area will want to use that route.
    *** Due to a prescribed burn in the Cataloochee area, hikers wishing to access Big Fork TH or Rough Fork TH from March 19th to mid-April will need to park at the Beech Grove school parking area and hike up the road to the trailheads in the upper valley. The trails remain open and accessible.
    *** Fontana Dam is closed to vehicle traffic until April 2015 due to a construction project. Hikers can park at the Fontana Dam Visitor Center and walk across a marked route to access the park trailheads, including that for the AT, the Lakeshore Trail and the Benton Mackaye Trail ***

Backcountry Permit System

Appalachian Trail Thru-Hiker Backcountry Permit

You may obtain an AT thru hiker permit through this site.

IMPORTANT! To qualify for an AT Thru-Hiker Permit, you must begin and end your hike at least 50 miles outside Great Smoky Mountains National Park and only travel on the AT in the park. Hikers not meeting this definition should apply for a General Backcountry Permit

All users are strongly encouraged to read the basic permit information below before acquiring a permit.

Permits obtained through this system are issued by email. If you do not have an email address, please contact the Backcountry Office at 865-436-1297.

Basic Trip Planning Information

  • Permits are required for all overnight stays in the backcountry.
  • Each thru-hiker must obtain a separate permit.
  • You must have a paper copy of your permit with you at all times while hiking through Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Please follow the instructions on your permit once you get to the park.
  • You may obtain an AT Thru-Hiker Permit up to 30 days in advance of the date you anticipate arriving in Great Smoky Mountains National Park.
  • There is a cost of $20.00 per permit. The cost of the permit is non-refundable.
  • A Thru-Hiker Permit is valid for up to 38 days from the date you obtain it. Thru-Hikers have 8 days to get through the Smokies. A break to rest or resupply in a nearby town does not negate one's standing as a thru-hiker.
  • Thru-Hikers may tent in the immediate area around shelters only if the shelter is full. Thru-hikers are required to stay in shelters when there is space available. Thru-Hikers must always give up bunk space in shelters to those with shelter reservations.
  • You are responsible for compliance with all park regulations and are responsible for your own safety. To keep the AT Thru-Hiker experience as unrestricted as possible, it is important that Thru-Hikers are diligent in following all regulations and consistently practice Leave No Trace principles.
  • To help ensure that your trip is safe and enjoyable, we strongly encourage you to read Things You Need to Know before planning your trip or completing a reservation.
  • Backpacking in the Smokies is much more challenging than many people realize. Additional trip planning assistance may be obtained through the Backcountry Information Office by calling 865-436-1297.
Apply for a Appalachian Trail Thru-Hiker Backcountry Permit

Great Smoky Mountains National Park Backcountry Permits v1.3.1
Last Update: Sunday June 29, 2014