Mt Kephart and The Jumpoff, Newfound Gap Trailhead, Great Smoky Mountains National Park, North Carolina
Mt Kephart and The Jumpoff - 6.2 miles
Newfound Gap Trailhead
|Round-Trip Length:||6.2 miles (includes both Mt Kephart and The Jumpoff)|
|Start-End Elevation:||5,054' - 6,133' (max elevation is 6,217' on Mt Kephart)|
|Elevation Change:||+1,079' net elevation gain (+1,542' total roundtrip elevation gain)|
Mt Kephart and The Jumpoff - 6.2 Miles Round-Trip
Mt Kephart (6,217') is the ninth highest peak in Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Its proximity to Newfound Gap and the Appalachian Trail make it one of the most accessible high peaks in the Park.
On its northeast shoulder is The Jumpoff (6,133'), an ominously but appropriately named ledge which offers one of the best - albeit from one of the most precarious - viewpoints in the Smokies.
Visitors will enjoy ecological variety on the drive to Newfound Gap, passing through Cove Hardwood, Northern Hardwood and Pine-Oak forests on the 3,000' climb to the trailhead. A relatively short hike continues east on the Appalachian Trail through spruce-fir stands to Mt Kephart and spectacular views from the Jumpoff:
The Appalachian Trail rises over Newfound Gap along the North Carolina - Tennessee border on a rocky, rooted path. Note the absence of hardwoods as you progress through this high elevation pine-oak forest. The trail crests at 1.5 miles and drops on a thin ridge with partial views to the Sweat Heifer Creek Trail split (1.65 miles : 5,815').
Grades moderate past 2.0 miles and cross 6,000' (2.2 miles) through columns of red spruce and fraser fir. Bear left on the Boulevard Trail (2.65 miles : 6,014') and right at the split for The Jumpoff (2.75 miles : 6,058'). Note Mt Kephart is not mentioned on these signs.
The Jumpoff Trail climbs steeply on a rugged path that levels in an open, grassy area on the unmarked summit of Mt Kephart (2.9 miles : 6,217').
Views are limited through the head-high understory. The trail drops and climbs unevenly past the summit area to the similarly unmarked Jumpoff (3.1 miles : 6,133').
The Jumpoff provides sweeping southeasterly panoramas across the Kephart Prong drainage and Richland Mountain area. Maneuverability is limited, but there's ample room to maximize the view. Exercise extreme caution on the final approach to and at the Jumpoff, which trace steep ledges that leave no margin for error.
- N35 36.659 W83 25.480 — 0.0 miles : Newfound Gap Trailhead
- N35 36.840 W83 25.121 — .5 miles : Rocky, rooted climb on the Appalachian Trail
- N35 37.064 W83 24.742 — 1.0 miles : High, thin ridge with partial views
- N35 37.273 W83 24.231 — 1.65 miles : Sweat Heifer Creek Trail split
- N35 37.324 W83 23.858 — 2.0 miles : Grades moderate through 6,000'
- N35 37.705 W83 23.438 — 2.65 miles : Boulevard Trail split - veer left
- N35 37.749 W83 23.424 — 2.75 miles : Veer right at trail split for the Jumpoff
- N35 37.856 W83 23.383 — 2.9 miles : Mt Kephart summit (unmarked)
- N35 38.039 W83 23.359 — 3.1 miles : The Jumpoff (end of trail)
- The Jumpoff is not recommended for children, or those uncomfortable with heights and steep drop-offs.
- Arrive early to secure parking at Newfound Gap and avoid crowds at the Jumpoff.
- In Appalachian speak, a gap is a low point in a mountain ridge. At 5,046', Newfound Gap is the lowest pass through the Great Smoky Mountains. The Appalachian Trail crosses over Newfound Gap Road and straddles the state line between North Carolina and Tennessee for most of its length through the Park.
- Clingman's Dome (6,643') - located 7 miles by road from Newfound Gap - is the highest Peak in Great Smoky Mountains National Park. It's followed by Mount Guyot (6,621') and Mount Le Conte (6,593').
Camping and Backpacking Information
The Ice Spring Shelter is located 2.9 miles from Newfound Gap Trailhead on the Appalachian Trail.
BACKPACKING IN THE SMOKIES
Great Smoky Mountains National Park requires a permit and advance reservations for all backcountry camping in the park. Before planning your backcountry trip, please read through this important information about reservations and permits, regulations, bear safety, trail closures, and more.
Reserve your Backcountry or Thru Hike permits here: https://smokiespermits.nps.gov/
Please direct questions concerning backpacking trip planning to the Backcountry Information Office at (865) 436-1297. Phone calls are the preferred method of contact. The information office is open daily from 8:00 a.m. until 5:00 p.m. (Eastern Standard Time). In addition to answering your backpacking questions, the experienced backpackers in the Backcountry Information Office can provide you with tips to make your trip safe and enjoyable.
Backpackers and hikers are subject to all Backcountry Rules and Regulations. Failure to abide by park regulations may subject you to a fine under Title 36, Code of Federal Regulations. Maximum fine for each violation is $5,000 and/or 6 months in jail.
General Backcountry Regulations
1. Camping is permitted only at designated backcountry campsites and shelters.
2. You may not stay at any backcountry campsite for more than 3 consecutive nights. You may not stay consecutive nights at campsite 113 or at any shelter.
3. Maximum party size is 8. Two parties affiliated with the same group may not stay in the same campsite or at the same shelter on the same night(s). Special permits may be issued for a few sites that accommodate parties of up to 12.
4. Fires are only allowed at designated campsites and shelters and must be contained in a fire ring. Constructing new fire rings is prohibited. You may only burn wood that is dead and already on the ground. You may not cut any standing wood.
5. It is illegal to possess firewood originating from a location from which a federal or state firewood quarantine is in effect. Read information about this quarantine and the states affected.
6. Building a fire in the fireplace of any historic structure or removing any parts of a historic structure, including brick or rock, is illegal.
7. Backcountry permit holders may not use tents at shelters.
8. Hammocks may only be used within designated backcountry campsites. They may not be used inside shelters and may not be attached to shelters in any way.
9. All odorous items (e.g., food, trash, lip balm, toothpaste, stock feed, hay etc) must be hung on the bear cable system at each campsite or shelter.
10. Human waste must be disposed of at least 100 feet from any campsite, shelter, water source or trail and must be buried in a hole at least 6 inches deep.
11. All food, trash, clothing, equipment or personal items must be packed out.
12. Burning food, trash or anything other than dead wood is prohibited.
13. Carving into or defacing trees, signs, shelters or other backcountry features is illegal.
14. Soap, even biodegradable soap, may not be used in any water sources. Bathing and washing dishes should be done well away from water sources and campsites.
15. No dogs or other pets are allowed on any park trails except the Gatlinburg Trail and the Oconaluftee River Trail. No dogs or other pets may be carried into the backcountry.
16. No motorized vehicles are allowed in the backcountry.
17. No hunting is allowed anywhere in the park
18. Feeding, touching or teasing wildlife is prohibited. You may not willfully approach within 50 yards (150 feet) of elk or bears.
- Fishing is permitted year-round, from 30 minutes before official sunrise to 30 minutes after official sunset.
- The park allows fishing in all streams except Bear Creek at its junction with Forney Creek, and Lynn Camp Prong upstream of its confluence with Thunderhead Prong.
- A valid fishing license from Tennessee or North Carolina is required to fish in Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Either state license is valid throughout the park and no trout stamp is required. Fishing licenses and permits are not available in the park, but may be purchased in nearby towns or online.
- Daily Possession Limits: Five (5) brook, rainbow or brown trout, smallmouth bass, or a combination of these, each day or in possession, regardless of whether they are fresh, stored in an ice chest, or otherwise preserved. The combined total must not exceed five fish. Twenty (20) rock bass may be kept in addition to the above limit. A person must stop fishing immediately after obtaining the limit.
- Size Limits: Brook, rainbow, and brown trout: 7 inch minimum. Smallmouth bass: 7 inch minimum. Rockbass: no minimum. Trout or smallmouth bass caught less than the legal length shall be immediately returned to the water from which it was taken.
- Lures, Bait, and Equipment: Fishing is permitted only by the use of one hand-held rod. Only artificial flies or lures with a single hook may be used. Dropper flies may be used, with up to two flies on a leader.
Rules and Regulations
- There is no entrance fee to Great Smoky Mountains National Park.
- Pets, motorized vehicles, and bicycles are not permitted on backcountry trails in GSMNP.
- Leashed pets are allowed in developed areas and along roads, but are not allowed on park trails.
Directions to Trailhead
The Newfound Gap Trailhead is located 12.7 miles south of the Sugarlands Visitor Center on Highway 441 in Great Smoky Mountains National Park. The trailhead is located on the east side of the road.
Great Smoky Mountains National Park
107 Park Headquarters Road
Gatlinburg, TN 37738
Visitor Information - Recorded Message
Backcountry Office - Camping and Reservations
The Backcountry Reservation Office is open from 8 am - 6 pm daily (EST)
Backcountry Information Office - Trip Planning Questions
The information office is open daily 9 am - 12n (EST)
Sugarlands Visitor Center (Tennessee side - north entrance)
Oconaluftee Visitor Center (North Carolina side - south entrance)