Fires Allowed
Pets Unknown
Drinking Water
About Icewater Spring Shelter

Shelter on the Appalachian Trail's North Carolina section.

National Park Service
Walk In
Hike In
Alcohol Allowed
Drinking Water
Fires Allowed
Phone Service
Icewater Spring Shelter is located in North Carolina
35.6298 N
-83.3863 W
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5 Reviews of Icewater Spring Shelter
Icewater spring shelter

Great shelter to stay in especially if you are only hiking in for the night. The shelter is three sides with wooden planks to sleep on. There is a composting toilet and bear hooks to hang food/packs from. It is a short hike to Charlies bunion which has great views. The shelter can be quite crowded especially when the thru hikers go through in early spring. There is a spring water source to get water from but be prepared to treat the water. It can be difficult to fit a water bottle under the pipe- recommend you bring a small plastic bag to collect the water in and transfer to the water bottle. Overall great shelter with great view of the sunrise in the morning!

Great Trail Shelter along the Appalachian Trail

Unlike most campgrounds, this is a camping shelter in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, and you only reach it by hiking about four miles.  There are several shelters throughout the national park, but this is one of the more modern shelters.  I first camped at this shelter over thirty years ago, but I have also stayed in it at least three more times, including this most recent visit.  The first time I stayed there, you had to sleep on wire fencing.  Now, you sleep on a wooden platform.  This is why you should take a very comfortable sleeping pad.  I thought I did, but it was still a hard surface.  If this is the first time you have stayed in an Appalachian Trail shelter, be prepared to sleep beside strangers.  Sometimes, it gets to be a bit crowded.  This last time, I was sleeping beside my son and my best friend, and within a foot and a half were two female backpackers.  The shelter was actually crowded.   If you are a light sleeper, make sure to take ear plugs.  It is no fun listening to half a dozen strangers snoring all night.  The hike to the shelter is almost entirely uphill along the Appalachian Trail, but the views are well worth the hike, especially if you venture about nine-tenths of a mile past the shelter to Charlie’s Bunion.  That’s what most day hikers and overnight hikers go there for unless you are a through-hiker just passing through on the way to Maine.  Charlie’s Bunion is the main reason I go because the view is absolutely FANTASTIC!  There is a fireplace and chimney at the shelter, but I have never found it useful since you are not supposed to gather wood and wood is not available at the shelter.  What was once a very primitive privy is now a more modern pit toilet in which you shovel in mulch after you do your business.  Instead of having to tie up your food bags, there is now a cable system for hanging your food.  You WILL want to hang your food so critters won’t get to them, especially since mice love to hang around the shelter looking for food scraps, and there will be mice.  I have seen them more than a couple of times.  You can actually hear them sometimes at night in the shelter.  As many times as I have been to this shelter, I have never seen a bear, but I have heard stories about bears from other hikers.  The main attraction of the shelter, other than through-hikers staying overnight, is Charlie’s Bunion and other hikes that are close by.  The Jumpoff is a good hike, and if you are willing to hike farther, there are other similar hikes.  Make sure to take a water filter with you when you go unless you are willing to bear the weight of lots of water.  There is a water source along the trail about a hundred yards past the shelter.  Like most shelters, you are only allowed to stay one night.  To avoid crowds, hike to it in December.  Not really.  I did that one time.  Never again.  Two-thirds of the trail was solid ice, and getting to Charlie’s Bunion was not possible.  Autumn is my favorite time of year to go since the colors will be amazing, but if you have cloud cover you will not be able to get the best view from Charlie’s Bunion.


Good for a day out and back. But the view isn’t so good once you get there.

Remembering my first experience on the Appalachian Trail

I've backpacked sections of the AT twice in my life. Once when I was 18 and again when I was 27. This was my first experience. The Icewater Spring shelter location is spectacular! And great for beginning or experienced backpackers alike. Staying in a shelter is a unique experience because you never know who you will meet on the trail. I loved this specific shelter especially because a few of us actually slept out front and woke to the sunrise and snow on our sleeping bags. It was an experience I'll never forget. Check this one out for sure! Happy camping!

First to Review
Iceboater Spring Shelter on the Appalachian Trail

After passing Newfound Gap in the Smoky Mountains, this beauty of a shelter is discovered. All of us commented on the newness and entrancing nature of this shelter. Not many shelters have windows. They lit up the inside nicely. Without the windows the upper sleeping area would be very dark. This would be a nice hike-in from the popular tourist stop of Newfound Gap.