What's the Deal at 19E


I’ve read in hiker journals and on several forum sites about problems at highway 19E on the AT. Everybody mentions trash being dumped there, and a few have hinted at trouble with the locals. I’ll be passing through there on my next section hike and was wondering if there is anything I should know about or look out for.



This is what is posted about it on the ATC website:
" Date Posted: 02/05/2003
Subject: VANDALISM - US19E/Bear Branch Road
Trail Information: U.S. 19E/Bear Branch Road: Hikers are strongly encouraged not to leave their vehicles overnight where the A.T. crosses U.S. 19E (at the intersection of U.S.19E and Bear Branch Road) in Carter County, Tennessee. Vandalism has been a significant problem at that location for many years. Vehicles have been stolen, burned, or vandalized as recently as March 2001. Hikers are encouraged to choose alternative trailheads or seek out local businesses who may allow you to park your vehicle for a fee."

In other words a bad apple or two work that location. If you are just hiking thru, you should be okay. Problems like this exist other places, not only just on the AT. It is a sad commentery on the world in which we live, but that is the way it is. View the ATC website for additional info and also you can contact the local ATC Club, which maintains that section of trail for additional info. :slight_smile:



I can vouch that problem has been ongoing for at least a few years. In 2001 I heard about the crimes that would happen around there. And there was plenty of trash near the road crossing. Could be the same stuff the folks this year are seeing.



I hear when I was section hiked in 2000 through this area, that the acquistion of land in this area by the government or whoever was not received well by some of the locals, so the trail is a negative thing for them. I guess the way they show it is by vandalism and other yucky things. I didn’t have a problem there, but was just aware of the situation.

Right On


The Don Nelan shelter was burned back in 1990 or so I believe. That shelter was right after 19E crossing. Ignorance plays into the problem and unfortunately the section of trail that goes from 19E to Laurel Gorge rides hand in hand with the ugliness of that ignorance. Best to treat locals respectfully and avoid going to Elk Park.



I meet several hiker in 2001 who went to town in that section and had no problems. When I thru-hiked in 1999 there had been vandalism and a friend was hit while trying to hitch to town. It broke both his legs in several places but his back was save by his pack. It did end his thru-hike. I would not stay near the road or in the area if you can avoid it. I also heard about some locals driving 4-wheelers up to doll flats and drinking. That has been an area of contention for years. I don’t know if you can blame land acquisitions or just ignorant rednecks. I am inclined to believe it’s ignorant red necks/ white trash since I have had more experience with that crowd.

I didn’t have any strange encounters the two times I’ve been through the area but I didn’t hang around either.

DArth pacman


If you don’t want to stop at 19E (and I wouldn’t) keep hiking and call Laurel Fork Lodge. They will pick you anywhere in that section with road access (even at 19E). The place gets my thumbs up. Enjoy your hike. I’ve got to get moving on to Trail Daze…



There are definitely many sketchy characters in this area, and I encountered lots of trash when crossing that area during my thru-hike in 2002. I had to walk 3.5 miles into Elk Park to pick up my maildrop. I definitely would avoid this town if at all possible.

GA->ME '02



I hiked from Apple House Shelter (a mile before 19E) to Dennis Cove Road on Halloween last year. There was a burned out frame of a bus on the trail at a road crossing right past 19E. As I was trying to figure out how to approach it, two cars went by. I tried to wave, but received no response. It almost seemed like they swerved towards me a bit. Bob at Kincora Hostel told me how in the past locals had strung fishing wire with hooks across the trail.
The terrain of that section is nasty. While the profile map does not show it, the trail goes up and down repeatedly until the shelter, 13 or so miles from 19E.

Ragin’ Joe


Yes, it is not the best of places to be. I just went through there. It is one of the top places that they reccommend you not hitch hike alone.
I walked to the Country House Rest. for breakfast (about 1.5 miles). It is hard to get a hitch in the area and the stories of the trash and the locals hanging around doll flats are all true. My friends stayed at a hotel about 8-10 miles in the Elk Park direction and said the owner was extremely hiker friendly. In a panic during a thunderstorm I hitched to the Beer Wash (about 1 mile in the Roan Mountain direction). That area is scary but the owner of the Beer Wash is nice and has an aparment he lets hikers stay in, but there is no food within walking distance of there.
Use caution and try to stay with people around there. Despite all the bad, I got my best trail magic about 4 miles away at Buck Mountain Road from a van full of guys from a correctional facility. Goes to show everyone in that area isn’t bad (or mean and nasty is a better term).
Also if you are sectioning, the guy at the Beer Wash will let you park in his parking lot.



I sectioned from there to the Kincora hostel last year. There is a $$$ Bed and Breakfast a few hundred yards westward on 19 at the trail crossing. ? Mountain view B+B I think. They were very nice, let me park there, and even shuttled me to Erwin. I didnt stay with them (the place is set up for honeymooners with bucks) but they were budding hikers so had an interest in the trail too. Unfortunately, the trail just north of there is adjacent to an apparent favorite dumping spot for all kinds of trash visible from the road (old wash machines, lots of paper and boxes, tires, etc…a real eye sore.)