Smokies Trail Sign Mystery

Am I the only hiker bothered by the trail sign above in Great Smoky Mountains National Park? Apparently, yes, because it’s been up for a long time.

Yesterday I hiked up Newton Bald Trail from US 441 and came down Mingus Creek Trail. At the top, at the intersection, I found this sign, shown above. To help you, here’s what it says:


Cooper Creek Trail 5.1  –>

Thomas Divide Trail 8.8  –>

Indian Creek Trail 9.0 –>

But when you go down Mingus Creek Trail, you don’t intersect any of these trail. Instead, you’ll find Deeplow Gap Trail on the left after 2.8 miles. All these other trails are off Deeplow Gap Trail. So what does it mean? Obviously it’s an old sign that’s never been updated. After all, who goes there but hikers and they know where they’re going?

Cooper Creek Trail now is only 0.8 miles from a private entrance into the park. This sign may date back from before then when the entrance was public. I’ve set this puzzle to Bill Hart, author of 3000 miles in the Smokies and president of Great Smoky Mountains Association. If anyone can unravel this, it’s Bill.

There were other highlights of this hike.

Newton Bald Trail is the route of the new Mountains-to-Sea Trail while Mingus Creek Trail was the old route. I found a white circle on the Newton Bald Trail which is just coincidental but it makes for a good photo.

But the puzzle still stands.

Send out the picture of the sign to your hiking friends and Smokies and afficianados and see what they say. Of course, as my hiking companion said “Danny, others may not be as fascinated by this sign as you are.”


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