There aren't many loop hikes in the Smokies, so if you want a multi-day backpacking trip that doesn't involve a long shuttle ride at the end, you'll have to plan a DIY adventure. This 18.3-mile hike offers ample rewards, including a section along the Appalachian Trail, a climb up a vintage fire tower, and even more majestic views from a grassy bald atop Gregory Bald.
The hike starts at Twentymile Ranger Station in the southwest part of the park. You'll head along Twentymile Trail for 5 miles, which meets up with the Appalachian Trail. Before proceeding north, however, it's worth your while to take a 500yd detour south along the Appalachian Trail to six-story Shuckstack Tower with its mesmerizing views.
After the detour, head back north on the Appalachian Trail for a little over 4 miles and turn left onto the Gregory Bald Trail. You'll continue for another 3 miles then arrive at this grassy bald with its enchanting views. That night camp just past the bald at campsite 13. In the morning it's all downhill (6.8 miles) along the Wolf Ridge Trail, right back to your starting point.
Twentymile Ranger Station is located on Hwy 28, about 18 miles east of the southern end of Foothills Pkwy.