Ascent of Cammerer Ridge on 2016-05-28

Climber: Zachary Robbins

Date:Saturday, May 28, 2016
Ascent Type:Successful Summit Attained
Peak:Cammerer Ridge
    Location:USA-North Carolina/Tennessee
    Elevation:5042 ft / 1536 m

Ascent Trip Report

This is a lot of work for essentially one peak, but it is a great hike and a must if you are checking of the lookout towers of NC. I did this over Memorial Day weekend, which probably was a mistake. However, the nice thing about this peak is you know everyone who hiked there had to work for it. This is rarely the case for our more famous mountains down south. The shortest round-trip hikes to the lookout tower are roughly 11 miles with at least 2,800 ft gain. No joke for any hiker. Most people use Low Gap Trail from Cosby, a few use the AT from Davenport Gap or the Pigeon River bridge, but both are outside of the GSMNP jurisdiction and parking is sketchy at best. I started at Big Creek campground and took the Chestnut Branch Trail, and did a grand loop using the Low Gap Trail and Big Creek Trail. For a day hike this is a tough one, 17.8 miles with 4,359 feet elevation gain.

The Chestnut Branch Trail is a moderate climb, then steeper once you get close to the Appalachian Trail. This is the only hikers' only trail of the day surprisingly. The AT south is a much more moderate pace, and beautiful trail through forests. You'll get one view from a rock, but that's it. The Mt. Cammerer Trail spurs off of the AT and eventually follows a narrow ridge with an astounding krummholz area close to the end, very odd for this elevation. The octagonal stone tower is small but beautiful, you can't see every direction at once because you have to walk around the tower, but trust me it's great. The best vuew is southeast of Mt. Sterling and south of the 6,000+ foot Smokies dominating the region.

The lookout tower is not actually on the high point, but on a northern spur of the main ridge/mountain. On here the tower is listed as the summit, and the real high point is listed as Cammerer Ridge. It doesn't matter to me. If you continue south on the AT you'll pass directly beside the high point, it's literally 5 feet off the trail and about 1 foot higher than the trail through some thick rhododendron. I doubt many people claiming this peak actually crawl off the AT into the rhodo. I continued down the Low Gap Trail and Big Creek Trail, and barely saw anyone for hours until I came to Mouse Creek Falls. This would be an excellent backpacking loop if you stay at the sites where Low Gap meets Big Creek.
Summary Total Data
GPS Data for Ascent/Trip

 GPS Waypoints - Hover or click to see name and lat/long
Peaks:  climbed and  unclimbed by Zachary Robbins
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Note: GPS Tracks may not be accurate, and may not show the best route. Do not follow this route blindly. Conditions change frequently. Use of a GPS unit in the outdoors, even with a pre-loaded track, is no substitute for experience and good judgment. accepts NO responsibility or liability from use of this data.

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