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The main trail up and down (approx 1 mile to the top) is almost always crowded on the weekends. The main loop trail (approx 5 miles) is often avoided by weekenders. You can add a mile each for the garden trail and the island when you do the 5 mile loop. I tend to stick to the connecting trail around the base and skip the segment over the mountain’s shoulder if it’s a weekend and crowded or if things are slick and wet on the rock face.

 

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In my experience only the Cherokee segment between the walk-up and Crossroads is crowded. The other side is basically deserted. But that's some treacherous terrain, don't do it unless you have good shoes and a cellphone and/or whistle. My plan is to start at the walk up trail, take it up to the Cherokee, turn right, and follow the Cherokee all the way back around except not go up the mountain again, go straight back along the railroad to the base.
 

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So to provide a slightly tangential update, they're reinstated the laser show...for $20 for a space (holds up to four people) and face diapers are required on the lawn. I believe herschend's contract runs out in a few years. Good riddance! Though I hope whoever comes in after that isn't worse. Given there's no state mandate, and that it doesn't seem like they have an estate for years, if they even lease it instead of operating it, I don't think it's enforceable, but I have no doubt the smma cops would run you off regardless.
 

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In my experience only the Cherokee segment between the walk-up and Crossroads is crowded. The other side is basically deserted. But that's some treacherous terrain, don't do it unless you have good shoes and a cellphone and/or whistle. My plan is to start at the walk up trail, take it up to the Cherokee, turn right, and follow the Cherokee all the way back around except not go up the mountain again, go straight back along the railroad to the base.
Is what you are talking about visible on the map 45_Fan posted in the post above yours?
 

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I guess this can belong here. There was a shooting incident in the campground early May 2nd. I won't go fully into details, but no one got shot (hence no news articles) and it was an internal dispute with another group of campers. The leader of my group (and several of us) woke up of course, and he retrieved his gun from his vehicle while I stood watch within the campsite (unarmed-last time that's going to happen). When the police arrived, he approached and informed the officer he was armed (he had put it in his pocket by then) and the officer was completely cool with it. At some point they had a discussion and she indicated that it was legal to carry anywhere within the park. Aside from the officers being awesome throughout the night, it seems like the message is clear to them that carry is ok. Sure, this was just a few officers, but given how chill they were about it, I would say it's safe to say that this attitude is prevalent.
 

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The park operator has updated their guidance. They no longer require face diapers for "vaccinated" individuals (but they don't say they're verifying either) and they've removed all mention of weapons from that page.
 
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