I recommend going up and over Glingmans Dome for sure. Yes the AT is marked with white blazes. Super easy to follow. I don't know if it is practical but you could take two cars and park them at different spots so you don't have to back track or anything like that.
I was planning on going there. Is there any good overhangs? And is the an overhang that kind of shadows over the whole park? If not we're just gonna find the highest point and hike to it.
So you are aware if you are in the Smokies you are technically required to camp in the designated campsites or shelters if you're going to follow the AT or be in the backcountry. If Rangers catch you without a permit it can come with a hefty fine. The permits are free and you can get them something like 30 days before heading out, check out the goods here: Backcountry Camping - Backpacking - Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Car camping happens in the "frontcountry" if that's more your style.
Things that would help would be how much backcountry experience you have, and if you hike regularly. There are some pretty mellow loops and there are some loops with some good gain. I guess the next question would be how long are you hoping to be in the backcountry?
It's been a while since I've been back to the motherland, but I pretty much grew up in GSMNP.
I know about the whole permits and reservations thing. We plan on spending three or four days. About 15 miles minimum a day. We are gonna enter around Davenport Gap and hike the AP trail taking some detours to see some sites. At Mollies Ridge we are gonna cut north and exit near Cades Cove. Might detour to Fontana Dam too.
Our experience is kind of a long story. Bottom line is we know what we are doing. I have little experience with camping and we both have experience in the backcountry sort of.
Should be fun! Not a stop to smell the roses pace, eh? If you haven't visited it already check out whiteblaze.net. Pretty sweet site dedicated to AT hiking/camping and they often have cool miscellaneous info like hiker meet-ups and trail parties.
Those pics made me vomit in my mouth a little. I`ll take my Arizona hiking; all you have to worry about down there are snakes and Mexican drug lords smuggling aliens into the country and in Arizona you can shoot those and the bounty you collect, pays for your trip...
PNW wilderness areas for the win though. None of the bullshit rules about where you camp or where you go and unless there is a red flag warning, build a fucking bonfire if you like and odds are you wont see a single other human hthe entire time.....
Enjoy it while you can, there is a big crowd of nuts out there who think we should just see things in pictures because they think a footprint is destroying our public lands.