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Mount Sterling Climber's Log

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Date Climbed: May 26, 2002


Climbed with my family(wife and two daughters) on a warm Memorial Day weekend. Tough switchbacks on root filled trail, with the surprise of a bear ambling along the trail near the summit after we went to the Fire Tower. Needless to say, a quick climb down!
Posted May 24, 2016 12:48 pm

locke456Great View Of The Smokies If You Can Bring Yourself To Climb The Fire Tower  Sucess!
Date Climbed: Apr 1, 2001


My first summit, almost 13 years ago now. I remember the hike proper as being pleasant and more or less like any other hike in the Smokies. There's great camping spots to be had at the top, and you should definitely spend a night, if for no other reason than to try to catch sunset and sunrise from the fire tower.
Posted Oct 7, 2013 10:03 pm

mtsptfamBig to Baxter Creek Loop  Sucess!


Climbed Mount Sterling with a bunch of teens and my wife. We did a loop and spent the first night near Big Creek and then the second night on top of Sterling. It was beautiful up there. The pines were open underneath giving it a peaceful quiet but not confined feeling. Sunrise and sunset from the tower were awesome.

We did have a good size bear come into camp and seemed fairly comfortable with people being there. Have to realize that when you are in the Smokies and have to camp at a certain spot with other people, not everyone there will be familiar with dealing with bears.
Posted Apr 8, 2013 7:04 pm

captainbuudaMount Sterling Trail  Sucess!


Fun little hike. Steamy August weather. Cooled off up top with the fog & clouds blanketing the mountains all around. The forest was beautiful too, as it always is in the Smokies. And the drive in from I-40 was nice as well.
Posted Apr 3, 2011 10:31 am

CDouganMount Sterling Trail  Sucess!
Date Climbed: Sep 25, 2009
Great views from the tower. Was pretty cloudy and a storm was rolling in when i was there. I plan I going back when the leaves change.
Posted Sep 27, 2009 2:08 am

MarkDidierBig Creek-Baxter Creek Loop  Sucess!
Date Climbed: May 2, 2009


Climbed Sterling via a 17.2 mile loop - Big Creek Trail to Swallow Fork Trail to Mt Sterling Ridge Trail - descended Baxter Creek.

This was a great route - with lots of great water/cascades and a pretty easy grade. Too bad the weather didn't cooperate. A pretty rainy day. The clouds opened up enough by the time we made it to Mt. Sterling to get a few good views from the fire tower. The descent down Baxter Creek is brutal.

A very quiet day. We only saw a few hikers on the way up. When we descended we ran into 3 or 4 groups heading up Baxter Creek to camp at Mt. Sterling.
Posted May 4, 2009 8:00 am

eric-grizNice loop hike  Sucess!
Date Climbed: Apr 1, 2009


Started at Big Creek and hiked up Big Creek to Swallow Fork Trail. From there up Mount Sterling Ridge to the tower. It's kinda creepy climbing that old thing. The weather was a bit cloudy, but I did manage to get some decent views. Returned to Big Creek via Baxter Creek Trail.
Posted Apr 2, 2009 11:24 pm

cwcolemanLong Bunk to Mt. Sterling loop  Sucess!
Date Climbed: Feb 21, 2009
We started at the Cataloochee horse campground (less than 1/4 mile from trail head).

After coming in on a old dirt road into the Park, we found two port-a-potties next to the trail head with a sign to Palmer Creek Trail. Chose campsite 39 for Friday night.

On Saturday we tracked back a bit to follow Little Cataloochee trail to Long Bunk Trail - which was a fun path. A bit of elevation gain, but a good mix of up and down. A few rock walls and cabins along the way - to include a few cemeteries. The hard part came when Long Bunk intersected with Mt. Sterling Trail with about 2 miles to go until campsite 38. There was plenty of water up until that point - so much we joked that it was hard to tell the trail from the river at points. We pushed it through and reached the fire tower around 4:30pm. Cold night on the mountain (about 25 degrees f) but the campsite was large - right next to the tower. A few boy scouts shared the site with us - although I never left the tent once it was up (except to hang the bear bag which sturdy lines were provided).

Back to the Mt Sterling Ridge trail intersection in the morning, and down down down Pretty Hollow Creek trail to campsite 39 again. Tighten up the boots and prepare your toes for this downhill trek along rivers most of the way. After reaching 39 - just 1.6 or so until the Cataloochee trail head - saw quite a few day hikers looking for elk.

About 19.5 miles total

Overall: Tough hike but worth ever step for the views from the Fire Tower atop Mount Sterling.
Posted Feb 16, 2009 1:59 pm

KoonsySterling Trail  Sucess!
Date Climbed: Dec 28, 2008


We took the sterling trail up, but getting to the trailhead was half the battle. We drove over at night making the road difficult to travel by. Then we had to hike through very very thick fog, but thankfully the trail is wide and easy to follow. Camped at the summit and caught the sunrise from the firetower. great views.
Posted Dec 30, 2008 10:25 am

TadberryBig Creek Loop  Sucess!
Date Climbed: Mar 21, 2008


Very nice hike from camp 37. Camp 38 near the summit was pretty but the only water source is .4 miles away. Bummer.
Posted Apr 23, 2008 7:27 pm

Dottie Little TentPretty Hollow Route  Sucess!
Date Climbed: Mar 6, 2008

Dottie Little Tent

Came up Pretty Hollow for the 14 mile roundtrip dayhike. Awesome views. hate the power lines but otherwise very wild area. Found 2 arrowheads on the Sterling ridge.
Posted Mar 6, 2008 7:42 pm

wyattwSterling  Sucess!
Date Climbed: Jul 29, 2007


Came from Camp 37 to Tri-Corner Knob to Laurel Gap and onto Mount Sterling and the firetower. It was a great time but REALLY humid.
Posted Aug 14, 2007 6:23 pm

Tbacon251Great hike!  Sucess!
Date Climbed: Mar 18, 2007


Hike to the top where the temp was 20 degrees! A cold day. Had a great chat with a Park Ranger. Awesome hike.
Posted Mar 19, 2007 3:33 am

mlandau3The Plodding Was Worth It  Sucess!
Date Climbed: Jun 30, 2006


It was a long plod up from Mt. Sterling gap, but the view from the fire tower was really spectacular. This was intended to be a secondary summit to Big Cataloochee; we never made it to that summit, but this summit more than made the whole trip worthwhile.
Posted Jul 1, 2006 4:07 pm

e-docRoute Climbed: Loop out of Big Creek Date Climbed: ?  Sucess!


A solo hike in December, camped near summit in sleet and snow. No view so I need to go back to see what I missed (should be oustanding)
Posted Dec 31, 2005 12:36 am

chmoore577Route Climbed: Pretty Hollow GapTrail to Mount Sterling Ridge Trail Date Climbed: July 21, 2002  Sucess!


I summited on July 21, 2002 and then again on March 24, 2003.

Both times leaving from Cataloochee and hiking a loop, Pretty Hollow Gap to Mount Sterling Ridge Trail then back to Cataloochee via the Mount Sterling Trail to Long Bunk Trail and then finally the Little Cataloochee Trail.
Posted Sep 2, 2005 9:38 am

gwave47Route Climbed: Baxter Creek Trail Date Climbed: March 24 and April 16, 2005  Sucess!


I took the Baxter Creek Trail and found it a little challenging especially since the first time I was running up the mountain to beat the sun. In late March I found that the last 1 mile of the 6.2 mile trail was covered in 3 inches of ice. It was also about 30 degrees at the summit though it was up to 65 at the trailhead. The view from the firetower is extraordinary because not only are you above the other mountains, but you're above the clouds. I thought the view at the top was worth every mile of the hike.
Posted May 23, 2005 1:07 am

BobSmithRoute Climbed: Mount Sterling Trail Date Climbed: 02-19-2005  Sucess!


Finally summited this peak after avoiding it for far too long. Spectacular views from the fire tower at the top. I highly recommend this mountain if you're hunting for a truly breathtaking grandstand of the Great Smoky Mountains.

Posted Feb 20, 2005 8:33 pm

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