Joyce Kilmer – Big Fat Gap to Hangover

Avery and I met Friday a few weeks back at at the Big Fat Gap trailhead in the Joyce Kilmer Wilderness area. It was pretty dark when we started hiking, but the trail wasn’t too bad with headlamps. We hiked about a mile or two along the Big Fat Gap trail to Slickrock Creek which is almost all downhill. Avery had wanted to stop at the campsites we passed near the start of the trail, but I knew the next day would be a long day and wanted to get a bit more mileage under our belts Friday. We setup camp once we reached the creek.

Saturday morning we cooked breakfast… which was interesting. I had a read a book earlier in the week about making pancakes while hiking. All you had to do was bring pancake mix, mix with water, and coat the pan with olive oil or butter. I wish I could say it was that simple… it ended up being a giant mess. Edible mess. But a mess. I don’t think we will be trying that again.

Once we managed to clean up breakfast and break down camp, we hid our bags in the bushes and hiked downstream to Wildcat Falls. We had to cross SlickRock creek once or twice to get there – it was definitely a bit slick!

We returned back to camp around 11ish, had a quick snack, and headed up the trail towards Naked Ground. The first mile or two was fairly easy. We reached the point where the trail diverted from the creek and started its ascent. We knew we had a lot of work ahead of us and decided to go ahead and have lunch and top off our water.

The trail from Slickrock Creek up to Naked Ground was hard. Not only did we have to gain over 2,000 feet in elevation, we had to climb over a hundred trees. I wish I could I say I was exaggerating, but I really think it was a hundred. You would climb over one tree and could see at least 2-3 more trees ahead of you. Hurricane Irma came through a few weeks before and I guess that caused so many trees to fall? I would not recommend the trail to anyone until some serious trail maintenance has taken place. It was brutal.

Finally we reached Naked Ground. There was a nice campsite which was very appealing, but we decided to push on to Hangover. It was around dusk when we finally reached Hangover – just in time for the sunset!

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The sunrise the next morning wasn’t so bad either!

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We packed up camp Sunday morning and headed back to the car. It was a quick couple miles of downhill – thank goodness! If we had to go up more uphill, I probably would not have made it!

 

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4 thoughts on “Joyce Kilmer – Big Fat Gap to Hangover

  1. It’s good to know making pancakes on the trail isn’t that easy! It sounds like you and I did the exact same loop. Omg that hike up Slickrock Creek was brutal! I understand wilderness areas mean minimal trail maintenance, but I’m with you in that I wouldn’t recommend this trail unless there’s some maintenance done or if you’re a really serious hiker and a glutton for punishment. Camping out on Naked Ground was such a relief, but I can imagine sunset and sunrise at the Hangover would have been amazing! I think next time I’ll take the easier route to the Hangover from Stratton bald though 🙂 Love seeing your review of this trail! Maybe I’ll see you out there on the trails one day, and happy hiking! 🙂

    1. I created a map in Caltopo and exported to my phone (used iOS Gaia GPS app). There isn’t any cell service in the area, but GPS works well. I kept my phone on airplane most of the time, but turned airplane mode on/off as needed to update GPS coordinates. Here is the Caltopo map we used: https://caltopo.com/m/050T

      If you decide to use Gaia GPS or other phone app, just make sure you download the maps before your trip. You won’t be able to download when you get there due to zero service in the area.

      We also had a paper map as a backup from Trails Illustrated, but it doesn’t show the first trail from the parking lot which follows Big Fat Branch Creek down to Slickrock Creek. The Caltopo map is more accurate. I would still recommend taking a paper copy as a backup just in case … http://www.natgeomaps.com/tellico-and-ocoee-rivers-cherokee-national-forest

      I will warn you that there are A LOT of trees down when you click from Slickrock Creek up to Naked Ground, but it is still a pretty cool hike.

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