Great Smoky Mountains 900 Miler FKT

This adventure was about my (i.e., Jeff Woody) quest to break the speed record for completion of all trails in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park (GSMNP). This accomplishment is recognized by the Great Smoky Mountains 900 Miler Club. The total mileage of all trails on the official park map is 801 miles, though it changes from time to time as trails are either added or decommissioned. As best I can tell, this is only second to Yellowstone National Park in total trail mileage. Completing all 801 miles of these trails has yet to be accomplished in less than 900 miles to my knowledge, and due to the vast network of trail connections and dead end trails, the total mileage has varied greatly among the 650+ members who have completed maps. Most club members accumulate over 1000 miles to complete complete the park map. Thus, the club name. It takes a great deal of time to prepare a strategy for the most efficient map.

On July 23, 2020 at 7:03 AM, I embarked on a challenge to complete all of the trails in GSMNP in less than 43 days, the recognized Fastest Known Time (FKT) on https://fastestknowntime.com. That record was set by Benny Braden in the Fall of 2017. During attempts of completing all of the trails, the Club rules state that if a trail that is on the Park map is officially closed, then it may be omitted. This was the case in Benny Braden’s record breaking completion in 2017, when he encountered a few trails that were damaged in the Gatlinburg fire. This was also the case for me. Scott Mountain trail (3.5 miles) has been closed for years due to storm damage. Cooper Creek trail (0.6 miles) was removed by the club at the recommendation of the National Park Service due to conflicts with a neighboring land owner. Porter Creek Trail (2.7 miles) was closed due to the wash-out of a bridge during a flood. The uppermost section of Chimney Tops Trail (0.2 miles) remains closed due to fire damage. These closures brought the mileage on the park map that is required to meet the Great Smoky Mountain 900 Miler Club requirements from 801 miles down to 794 miles

During my FKT attempt, GPS data was recorded on my Suunto 9 Baro watch and uploaded daily to my Strava account at https://www.strava.com/athletes/woody_jeff along with descriptions of each route. The Suunto captured the routes adequately, though due to some twists and turns on the trails, it often recorded about a 1 to 1.5 miles short on some of the longer routes. I also took photos of the trails at each trail junction, embedded with time and date information. I attempted to provide additional GPS data on my Garmin InReach Mini, but with with the heavy tree cover in the park, the device was unreliable, regularly shortening my routes by up to 5 miles. I eventually stopped using the tracking feature of the InReach Mini because of this result. Each day, completed trails were noted on two different spreadsheets, and the total miles were recorded and reconciled with the official mileage noted on the GSMNP map.

During the adventure, I completed trails on all but two days. This was because of a nagging lower leg injury that required treatment. That was eventually resolved, and I continued to log daily miles typically between 22 and 40 miles a day. On August 25, 2020, at 3:54 PM, I completed the last trail in the park…the Gatlinburg Trail. This meant that all trails were completed with an elapsed time of 33 days and 9 hours, a new FKT that was shorter that the record by 10 days. The total mileage was 952 miles. For the days covering mileage on the trails, the adventure averaged out to about 30 miles per day. It also totaled 199,000 feet of cumulative elevation gain.

I have submitted my data to the Great Smoky Mountains 900 Miler Club administrators, and it has been accepted. This can be verified on the club website membership listing, which now shows 9 map completions…the ninth being the latest record breaking attempt.

A PDF of the official Great Smoky Mountains National Park map:

Listed below are (1) the routes for each day; (2) daily mileage crossed of the official National Park Map (i.e., Map miles) and the total daily miles accumulated; (3) GPX data file links to Strava; and (4) a link to images of Trail Signs as evidence for each daily route (as matched to the day and trail routes shown on the FKT Plan. NOTE: Day 1 concludes after the first 24 hours, so the days are counted beginning with zero):

July 23, 2020 – First Day (i.e., Day Zero on Strava/Spreadsheet)

Trails: Twentymile, Twentymile Loop, Wolf Ridge, Gregory Bald (to Doe Knob), Long Hungry Ridge Trail, Twentymile to AT, AT (to Dam)

Daily Mileage: 25.7 miles (map); 28.8 miles (total)

GPS Data File

Trail Sign Photos

July 24, 2002 (Day 1+):

Trails: Lakeshore (Fontana Dam to Hazel Creek), Hazel Creek (Lower trailhead to Cold Spring Gap), Bone Valley (out/back), Cold Spring Gap, Welch Ridge, High Rocks, Bear Creek, Forney Creek (Bear Creek to Whiteoak Branch), Whiteoak Branch, Lakeshore (Whiteoak Branch to Tunnel Bypass), Tunnel Bypass

Daily Mileage: 35.2miles (map); 37.3 miles (total)

GPS Data File

Trail Sign Photos

July 25, 2020 (Day 2+):

Trails: Lakeshore (Hazel Creek to Goldmine Loop), Goldmine Loop, Tunnel Bypass

Daily Mileage: 25.1 miles (map); 27.1 miles (total)

GPS Data File

Trail Sign Photos

July 26, 2020 (Day 3+):

Trails: Noland Divide (lower trailhead to Pole Road Creek), Pole Road Creek, Deep Creek (Pole Road Creek to Martins Gap), Matins Gap, Sunkota Ridge (north to Thomas Divide), Thomas Divide (south to lower trailhead and then back to Stone Pile Gap), Stone Pile Gap, Indian Creek (to Loop and then to Deep Creek), Deep Creek (to Campground), Juney Wank

Daily Mileage: 30 miles (map); 31.4 miles (total)

GPS Data File

Trail Sign Photos

July 27, 2020 (Day 4+):

Trails: Deep Creek Horse Trail, Deep Creek (Indian Creek to Loop), Loop Trail (to Sunkota), Sunkota Ridge (to Martins Gap), Martins Gap (to Deep Creek), Deep Creek (Martins Gap to Loop), Loop Trail, Indian Creek, Martins Gap (to Sunkota), Indian Creek Motor Trail, Deeplow Gap, Mingus Creek (Deeplow to lower trailhead)

Daily Mileage: 27.4 miles (map); 33.4 miles (total)

GPS Data File

Trail Sign Photos

July 28, 2020 (Day 5+):

Trails: Flat Creek; Hemphill Bald, Cataloochee Divide (to McKee Branch and back), Rough Fork (Caldwell Fork to Polls Gap); Spruce Mtn (out/back); Palmer Creek (out/back); Balsam Mtn (to Beech Gap and back)

Daily Mileage: 24.2 miles (map); 32.2 miles (total)

GPS Data File 1 (Flat Creek)

GPS Data File (Hemphill Bald, Cataloochee Divide, Rough Fork)

GPS Data File (Spruce Mtn)

GPS Data File Palmer Creek

GPS Data File (Balsam Mtn)

Trail Sign Photos

July 29, 2020 (Day 6+):

Trails: Hyatt Ridge (to Campsite 44…end), Beech Gap (to Straight Fork Rd), Oconoluftee, Smokemont Loop, Tow String, Benton McEye Connector Trail

Daily Mileage: 18.4 miles (map); 19.3 miles (total)

GPS Data File (Hyatt Ridge and Beech Gap)

GPS Data File (Oconoluftee Tr)

GPS Data File (Smokemont Loop, Tow String, Benton McEye Connector)

Trail Sign Photos

July 30, 2020 (Day 7+):

Trails: Bradley Fork, Hughes Ridge (Bradley to AT), AT (Pecks to Dry Sluice), Dry Sluice, Cabin Flats

Daily Mileage: 18.4 miles (map); 24.9 miles (total)

GPS Data File

Trail Sign Photos

July 31, 2020 (Day 8+):

Trails: Bradley Fork (Campground to Chasteen), Chasteen Creek, Hughes Ridge (to AT), AT (Peck’s Corner to Balsam Mtn), Balsam Mtn (to Beech Gap), Beech Gap to Straight Fork Road), Hyatt Ridge, Enloe Creek, Chasteen Creek and Bradley back to Campground

Daily Mileage: 26.4 miles (map); 37.7 miles (total)

GPS Data File

Trail Sign Photos

August 1, 2020 (Day 9+):

Injury Day Off…No Mileage

August 2, 2020 (Day 10+):

Trails: Clingmans Dome Bypass, AT (Clingmans Dome to Welch Ridge), Welch Ridge (to Bear Creek and Back to Jonas Creek), Jonas Creek, Forney Creek (Jonas to Forney Ridge), Forney Ridge to Clingmans parking lot)

Daily Mileage: 24.4 miles (map); 29.7 miles (total)

GPS Data File

Trail Sign Photos

August 3, 2020 (Day 11+):

Injury Day off. No Mileage

August 4, 2020 (Day 12+):

Trails: Rich Mtn (out/back), Ace Gap, Beard Cane, Cooper Road (Hatcher Mtn to Abrams Ranger Station), Cane Creek (out/back), Gold Mine Road (out/back)

Daily Mileage: 20 miles (map), 25.2 miles (total)

GPS Data File

Trail Sign Photos

August 5, 2020 (Day 13+):

Trails: Meigs Creek, Meigs Mtn (out/back to Curry Mtn), Lumber Ridge, West Prong, Schoolhouse Gap (to end), Chestnut Top, Rountop, Little Greenbrier, Little Briar Gap, Metcalf Bottom

Daily Mileage: 31.9 miles (map), 34.3 miles (total)

GPS Data File

Trail Sign Photos

August 6, 2020 (Day 14+):

Trails: Schoolhouse Gap,  Turkeypen Ridge, Finley Cane, Bote Mtn ((West Prong to Anthony Creek), Lead Cove, Crib Gap, Crooked Army Ridge, Scott Mtn (to Campsite 6), Indian Grave Gap, (part out/back on 0.8 segment), Rich Mtn Loop

Mileage: 23.4 miles (map); 27.9 miles (total)

GPS Data File

Trail Sign Photos

August 7, 2020 (Day 15+):

Trails: Anthony Creek, Bote Mountain (to Anthony Creek), Russel Field, AT (to Lost Cove), Lost Cove, Eagle Creek, AT (to Russel Field), Russel Field, Anthony Creek (to Cades Cove Picnic Area)

Daily Mileage: 32.5 miles (map); 38 miles (total)

GPS Data File

Trail Sign Photos

August 8, 2020 (Day 16+):

Trails: Ramsay Cascade (out/back); Porters Creek (NOTE: Porter’s Creek closed…only first mile to Brushy Mtn could be completed), Brushy Mtn, Trillium Gap (Brushy Mtn to Rainbow Falls), Baskins Creek, Grapeyard Ridge

Mileage: 25.4 Miles (map), 30.4 miles (total)

GPS Data File (Ramsay Cascade)

GPS Data File (all other trails)

Trail Sign Photos

August 9, 2020 (Day 17+):

Trails: Little Bottoms, Abrams Falls, Wet Bottoms, Cooper Rd (trailhead to Hatcher Mtn), Hatcher Mtn, Hannah Mtn, Rabbit Creek (to Abrams Ranger Station)

Mileage: 20.6 miles (map), 21.7 miles (total)

GPS Data File

Trail Sign Photos

August 10, 2020 (Day 18+):

Trails: Huskey Gap (Hwy 441 to Sugarland), Sugarland Mtn (Husky Gap to AT), AT (Sugarland Mt to Goshen Prong), Goshen Prong, Little River (Goshen Prong to end at Campsite 30), Rough Creek (out/back), Little River (to trailhead)

Mileage: 31.5 miles (map), 38.8 miles (total)

GPS Data File (Part 1-Watch accidentally stopped on Goshen Prong and then restarted)

GPS Data File (Part 2)

Trail Sign Photos

August 11, 2020 (Day 19+):

Trails: Jakes Creek, Miry Ridge Tr, AT (Miry Ridge to Greenbrier Ridge), Greenbrier Ridge, Lynn Prong, Middle Prong (Lynn Camp to Panther Creek), Panther Creek, Jakes Creek (back to Elkmont) 

Mileage: 23.1 miles (map), 30.5 miles (total)

GPS Data File

Trail Sign Photos

August 12, 2020 (Day 20+):

Trails: Newton Bald, Mingus Creek (Newton to Deeplow Gap), Thomas Divide (to Kanati Fork), Kanati Fork, Kephart Prong, Grassy Branch, Dry Sluice Gap, AT (Dry Sluice to Sweat Heifer), Sweat Heifer, Kephart Prong (to Hwy 441)

Mileage: 25 miles (map), 31.5 miles (total)

GPS Data File

Trail Sign Photos

August 13, 2020 (Day 21+):

Trails: Laurel Falls (Trailhead out/back to Little Greenbrier), Cove Mtn, Laurel Falls (Cove Mtn to Little Greebrier), Little Greenbrier, Little Brier, Metcalf Bottoms, Curry Mtn, Meigs Mtn, Cucumber Gap, Little River (Cuc Gap to Huskey Gap), Huskey Gap, Sugarland Mtn (to lower trailhead)

Mileage: 29.9 miles (map), 35.6 miles (total)

GPS Data File (Laurel Falls)

GPS Data File (Cove Mtn to End)

Trail Sign Photos

August 14, 2020 (Day 22+):

Trails: AT (Road Prong to blvd), Boulevard, Trillium Gap (to Brushy Mtn and back), Alum Cave, Road Prong, Chimney tops

Mileage: 21.8 miles (map), 27.3 miles (total)

GPS Data File (AT, Blvd, Trillium Gap, Alum Cave)

GPS Data File (Road Prong, Chimney Tops)

Trail Sign Photos

August 15, 2020 (Day 23+):

Trails: Forney Ridge, Springhouse Branch (Forney Ridge to Noland Creek), Noland Creek (to end), Lakeshore (Tunnel to Whiteoak Branch), Whiteoak Branch, Forney Creek (to Springhouse Branch), Springhouse Branch (Forney Creek to Forney Ridge), Noland Divide (to upper trailhead)

Mileage: 27.4 miles (map), 35.4 miles (total)

GPS Data File

Trail Sign Photos

August 16, 2020 (Day 24+):

Trails: Thomas Divide (Upper trailhead to Kenati Fork and back), AT (Fork Ridge to Road Prong)

Mileage: 4.3 miles (map), 6.1 miles (total)

GPS Data File (Thomas Divide)

GPS Data File (AT)

Trail Sign Photos

August 17, 2020 (Day 25+):

Trails: Low Gap, AT (Low Gap to Tricorner and back to Snakeden), Snakeden Ridge, Cosby Campground Trails

Daily Mileage: 18.6 miles (map), 22.3 miles (total)

GPS Data File

Trail Sign Photos

August 18, 2020 (Day 26+):

Trails: Old Settlers, Gabes Mtn

Daily Mileage: 22.4 miles (map), 22.4 miles (total)

GPS Data File

Trail Sign Photos

August 19, 2020 (Day 27+):

Trails: Maddron Bald, AT (to Camel Gap),Camel Gap Swallow Fork, Mt Sterling Ridge (to Mt. Sterling), Mt Sterling (to Baxter), Baxter Creek, AT (Davenport Gap to Lower Mt Cammerer), Lower Mt. Cammerer

Daily Mileage: 35.4 miles (map), 38.4 miles (total)

GPS Data File

GPS Data File (lower section of Low Gap to Hikers Parking)

Trail Sign Photos

August 20, 2020 (Day 28+):

Trails: Chestnut Branch, AT (Chestnut to Low Gap), Low Gap II, Gunter Fork, Balsam Mt, Mt Sterling, Swallow Fork, Big Creek

Daily Mileage: 22.6 miles (map), 30.6 miles (total)

GPS Data File

Trail Sign Photos

August 21, 2020 (Day 29+):

Trails: Clingman’s Dome, AT (to Jenkins Ridge), Jenkins Ridge,Hazel Creek, Welch Ridge (upper), AT (Welch Ridge to Dome) 

Daily Mileage: 27 miles (map), 41.7 miles (total)

GPS Data File

Trail Sign Photos

August 22, 2020 (Day 30+):

Trails: Fork Ridge, Deep Creek (Pole Road Creek to upper trailhead); Caldwell Fork (Big Ridge), Boogerman; Rough Fork (out and back)

Daily Mileage: 22.8 miles (map), 30.5 (total)

GPS Data File (Fork Ridge/Deep Creek)

GPS Data File (Caldwell Fork and Boogerman)

GPS Data File (Rough Fork)

Trail Sign Photos

August 23, 2020 (Day 31+):

Trails: Pretty Hollow, Mt. Sterling Ridge, Mt. Sterling, Long Bunk Trail, Little Cataloochee; Cateloochee Divide, McKee Br, Caldwell Fork (McKee to Hemphill), Big Fork Ridge

Daily Mileage:  28.4 miles (map), 33.4. miles (total)

GPS Data File (Pretty Hollow Gap…Little Cataloochee)

GPS Data File (Cataloochee Divide…Big Fork Ridge)

Trail Sign Photos

August 24, 2020 (Day 32+):

Trails: Middle Prong (out/back); Gregory Ridge, Gregory Bald, Hannah Mtn, Rabbit Creek (Hannah Mtn to Abrams Creek parking lot)

Daily Mileage: 24.1 miles (map), 27.6 miles (total)

GPS Data File (Middle Prong)

GPS Data File (Gregory Ridge…Rabbit Creek)

Trail Sign Photos

August 25, 2020 (Last Day–Finish at 33 Days 9 hours):

Trails: Old Sugarland, Rainbow Falls, Bullhead, Twin Creeks; Gatlinburg Trail

Daily Mileage: 20.1 miles (map), 21 miles (total)

GPS Data File (Old Sugarland…Twin Creeks)

GPS Data File (Gatlinburg Trail)

Trail Sign Photos

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