June 12-13, 2022
Hughes Ridge Trail intersects the Appalachian Trail and the Chasteen Creek Trail/Enloe Creek Trail. The ridge is not a difficult hike, but the hard part is reaching it. From Newfound Gap, it is a 10-mile hike or from Smokemont Campground it is steep 5.6 hike. I chose the latter and set out in the morning from the campground. The weather was sweltering, ascending it felt cooler. The portion of Chasteen Creek Trail from campsite #48 to the Hughes Ridge trailhead is extremely steep.
Hughes Ridge itself is very flat. It is only 1400’ of ascent coupled with 750’ of descent. Around mid-afternoon, I made it to Peck’s Corner Shelter. Peck’s is a popular shelter along the AT, .4 miles from the trail. I have stayed here often but have never hiked the entirety of Hughes. People slowly trickled in, and it was an interesting crowd. Two friends from Tennessee (with their sons), some AT section hikers, a family from Texas. One poor fellow came in at the end of the day and collapsed onto his knees. When he turned around, his pants were stained brown (I assume from sitting on the ground).
I made a fire in the shelter and enjoyed talking to folks before retreating to my shelter and sleeping outside for the night. In the morning, I slowly descended back to the campground and the heat of the flatlands.
The AT shelters are a nice reprieve from our say-to-day bustle.
Total mileage is 19.8 miles.