The 900 Miler ClubIf you hike all of the 791.4 miles of trails within Great Smoky Mountains National Park you are eligible to join the 900 Miler Club. The 900 Miler Club was founded in 1995 and it is an organization for those dedicated individuals attempting to hike all of the trails within the Park boundaries. They have a website and a membership list, which as of this writing includes about 300 people. Some members have completed all the trails more than once. One member has completed all of the trails five times now, and another has trip reports documenting each of her hikes.
800 Miles of TrailsThe NPS trail map for Great Smoky Mountains National Park clearly and accurately shows all of the maintained trails within the park boundaries. Along with the trail names, the distance between trail intersections is also shown. Although called the 900 Miler Club, there are only 791.4 miles of trails documented on the map, according to Elizabeth Etnier’s Day Hiker's Guide to all the Trails in the Smoky Mountains. For now, the number 800 seems to be the common answer on current trail mileage. And depending on how you complete the task, you will need to walk well over 800 miles, with some members having hiked up to 1,500 miles to finish them all.
The Guide Book
Surprisingly, the 900 Miler Club has no recommendations on their website for how to efficiently hike all of the trails, either as dayhikes or as extended backpacking trips. The sole reference I found on the subject is Etnier’s Day Hiker’s Guide. This guide book outlines 80 dayhikes for completing all of the 150 trails within the Park boundary.
There is a link for purchasing the book at Singing River Publications, but the book is out of print, so don’t waste your time trying to buy it through them. I was able to find a used copy on Biblio.com.
This is not a guide book in the traditional sense. There is little trail information and there is no elevation gain/loss data. This is strictly a book for someone looking to efficiently hike all of the trails in the Smoky Mountains, and from that standpoint is an excellent resource, if that is your goal. (She references Hiking Trails of the Smokies often, which contains trail descriptions, elevation profiles and usually some historical information on every maintained trail in the park and I highly recommend that guide for any avid Smokies hiker.)
Etnier’s goal is to minimize duplication of miles hiked, to reduce the number of hours needed for transportation to and from trailheads and to ensure all spur trails are hiked. Completing all 80 hikes as described results in a total of 1068.8 miles of hiking. About one half of the hikes are over 15 miles in length, with six of these being 20-25 miles in length.
The book breaks the park up into nine geographic areas. These areas, with the number of hikes (in parenthesis) are: Tremont/Elkmont (17); Cades Cove/Abrams Creek (6); Sugarlands/Greenbrier (10); Big Creek/Cosby (5); Cataloochee (7); Twentymile/Fontana (5); Deep Creek (14); Hazel Creek (9); and Balsam Mountain (7). Each area includes a map with all of the hikes for that area highlighted, as well as the trail sequence, miles hiked (total and new), the approach (loop hike, etc.) as well as comments on the route. The comments are pretty concise, and are typically just directions on where to start, although there is good information on challenging stream crossings.