Hi there @W1LDFLR I recently joined REI Conversations, so I am definitely late to the game, but for future reference, I love visiting Big Creek Campground. You can do an out-and-back from the campgrounds or explore a 17 mile loop. Make it into an awesome 3-day adventure taking the 2-night Mt. Sterling Loop Trail. Just make sure to check-in with the Big Creek Campground for overnight parking and get permits for backcountry camping through NPS. THREE DAY LOOP The first day will have the most activities and stops. Along the 5.6 mile Big Creek Trail you will find Midnight Hole, great for swimming, and Mouse Falls. The first backcountry campsites (37 & 36) are along the river and relatively flat & friendly. The next day is mostly a wooded climb up to the Mt. Sterling fire Tower, 4.4 miles on a steady up. Before you head up, make sure you've got plenty of water... the water resource at this site is a bit further than campsite 38 (then a climb back up). The last day is a 6.6 mile up & downhill as you make your way back to Big Creek Campground. Wooded and lush, just the perfect amount of leisurely hiking to end your trip! Do the whole thing in reverse to end your day at the swimming hole! Enjoy the Smokies!
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I have done a 50 and 80 mile trip in Colorado. Get on the Durango-Silverton railroad and ride it for about an hour and there is a out and back trail. 50 miler took about 7 days. Beautiful country in the San Juan mountain ranges.
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