Mount Cammerer...I have had my eyes on this peak for a long, long time. Rising to a humble 4,928', the mountain marks the eastern-most extremity of the Smoky Mountains, where the mighty range makes its plunge into the Pigeon River Gorge at Davenport Gap. Though only middling in height for a Smoky Mountain peak its location at the end of the ridge, precipitous slopes, and rocky summit crowned by a historic old stone fire lookout make Cammerer a standout in the range. Viewed from the Cosby area to the west Mount Cammerer forms a vertical wall which looms over 3,000-feet above the valley. Its an imposing peak...and a challenging one to reach.
Well maintained trails lead right to the summit but all route options are on the lengthy side and the vertical climb will challenge even seasoned hikers. This isn't a hike for beginners. I'd be following the most popular route to the summit, the 12-mile out-and-back Low Gap route which originates from the National Parks Cosby Campground. The first half of the ascent is the most brutal, as you follow the Low Gap Trail on a 2.9 mile, 2,000-foot vertical climb to the Appalachian Trail atop the main ridge. From there the route eases a bit but there's still enough up-and-down as you travel the ridge east to keep you from relaxing too much. Just over two miles from Low Gap a well marked spur trail leads the remaining 0.6 miles to the summit tower. As explained earlier this is a spectacular spot with a man-made structure, the fire tower, actually adding to the surroundings for once. Built with stone quarried from the surrounding slopes by the CCC back in 1937, this so-called 'western-style' lookout is so named because it doesn't sit atop a tower like its other cousins around the region do. It served as a seasonal fire lookout into the 1960's, was abandoned for 30 years, and then restored in the mid 1990's.
As I stated earlier Mount Cammerer has been on my short-list of peaks to climb for a LONG time. Knowing the effort it was going to take and aware of its reputation for expansive views I wanted just the right day to go...preferably sunny, cool, and with low humidity. You'll notice in this album that this day was none of those things but I was in the area with the time to do it...so I decided to go for it. Clearer skies would have been nice but this was still a hike to remember. Come along and see what I discovered on an adventure that was far too long in coming...
Hike Length: ~12.0 miles Hike Duration: 4:30
Trailhead Temp: 60'F
Min. Elevation: 2,450' Max. Elevation: 5,054'
Total Vertical Gain: 2,604' Avg. Elevation Gain / Mile: 475'