Trail - Known as the "A.T", stretches 2,174 miles
through the valleys and ridges from Georgia to Maine. The entire hike
takes 4 to 6 months to cross, meandering through 14 states, 8 national
forests, 2 national parks and 15 major rivers. The vision
of forester Benton MacKaye, the trail was developed by volunteers and
officially opened, as a continuous trail in 1937. In 1968 the
trail was designated as the first National Scenic Trail by the National
Trails System Act. More than 4,000 volunteers contribute to the
preservation of the Appalachian Trail yearly. Elevations range from 6,643
feet at Clingmans Dome in the Smoky Mountains to near sea level at the
Hudson River in New York. The trail traverses 68.6 miles through the
Smokies and is accessible via the trail at Newfound Gap and from Fontana
Dam. Shelters are provided every 7 - 8 miles, all featuring
chain-link fences to keep bears away. Reservations must be made in advance
and stays are limited to 1 night in the shelters. The best place to start
a day hike is Newfound Gap on the cross-park road.
Falls Trail - The most popular hike in the Cove, this 2.5 mile
moderate trail begins at the far end of the Cades Cove Loop at the wooden
bridge over Abrams Creek and follows the creek to Abrams Falls, a 20 foot
high waterfall offering the park's largest volume of water and the most
photogenic waterfall and hike. Elevation gain 340 feet.
Cave Bluffs Trail
- 4.6 mile moderate to strenuous. The initial one and a half mile trail
guides you through Arch Rock's, a natural erosion-created tunnel then to
Inspiration Point which supplies a spectacular view of the West Prong of
the Little Pigeon River's upper basin. The bluffs are a result of the
Confederate mining of saltpeter during the Civil War and was also the site
of a 19th century alum mine. This trail continues to Mt. LeConte, and its
beautiful viewpoints. Roundtrip distance from the parking to LeConte is 10
miles. The last half of the trail is steep and, at times, hikers must use
the trailside cables to traverse the cliffs. Trail begins at the Alum Cave
Bluffs parking area at Newfound Gap Rd. between Newfound Gap and Chimney
Tops. Elevation gain is 2,800 feet.
Bald Trail -
4.4 mile moderate hike up to the open, un-forested bald. Excellent views
open to the south and in spring the azaleas explode with color. This
trailhead is closed December through March.
Creek Trail -
Beginning at the Cades Cove picnic area, this 3.5 mile moderate trail
climbs to Bote Mountain Trail following Anthony Creek along the way. This
is the Coves' easternmost trail and follows Anthony Creek to its
headwaters. After 3 miles the trail reaches the backcountry campsite #9.
The lower half of the trail features large hemlock trees and the upper
portion offers views of the Cove in the winter months. You may also access
Russell Field Trail leading up to the crest of the mountains along the
Appalachian Trail to the Russell Field bald and outstanding views, Spence
Field and Rocky Top.
Creek Falls -
This 3.8 mile easy hike begins at the Roaring Fork Nature Trail parking
area and connects Roaring Fork Road with Trillium Gap Trail by Cherokee
Orchard Road. Features include the Baskin Cemetery and the beautiful 25
foot waterfall as well as peace and quiet due to the lack of hikers.
Cove Nature Trail
- .75 mile easy hike. Brochures are available at the start of the trail
explaining the use of plants by the 19th century settlers. A variety of
dogwood, red maples, sourwood, hickories and white pine trees line the
Tops Trail -
CURRENTLY CLOSED, Scheduled to re-open June 30 - Trail will only be
open Friday - Sundays until October 17 - 4.0 mile moderate to strenuous hike. Self-guided wandering through virgin
forest to the Chimney Tops pinnacles. It is a steep climb to two rock
spires 4,755 feet in elevation. From the top they provide a spectacular
360-degree view. Trail starts at the Chimney Tops trailhead, located on
Newfound Gap Rd. Elevation gain is 1,335 feet. Not recommended for young
Bunion - An 8
mile moderate to strenuous hike following the Appalachian Trail. Hike down
rocky crags along the state line ridge. Features excellent views and photo
opportunities at the beginning and end of the trail..
Dome Observation Tower
- This 1 mile easy path is paved and easily accessible with a wheelchair
or stroller. Restroom facilities and resting benches are located along the
trail. Upon reaching the summit, you will be standing on the highest peak
(6,641 feet) of the Smoky Mountains. The tower features 360 degree views
and the Appalachian Trail crosses at the base of the tower. Perfectly
suited for families and children.
Bald Trail - This
4.5 mile strenuous trail is considered to be one of the
best in the Park. Intended for experienced hikers, its 4.9 miles to the
end of Forge Creek Road to Gregory Bald. The trail follows Forge Creek
through an old-growth forest featuring 8 foot diameter tulip poplars
and steeply climbs 3,000 feet in elevation to Gregory Bald, a 10
acre bald with 360 degree views and the area's best display of flame
azalea in June. Also serves as a horse trail.
Falls Trail - A
2.4 mile moderate hike. Located at pull-off 5 on the Roaring Fork Motor
Trail. Features a waterfall that visitors can walk behind, several stream
crossings and hemlock forests.
Wallow Falls Trail
- 4.4 mile moderate trail. The main trail leads to the top of the falls. A
steep, narrow side trail leads to the bottom. This 45-foot fall receives
less visitation than many other area falls. Passes through a hemlock,
poplar and rhododendron forest to the falls. Hen Wallow Creek, only two
feet wide at the top of the falls, fans out to a width of twenty feet at
the base. Trail begins before the picnic area on the road to Cosby
Campground. Elevation gain is 520 feet.
Creek Falls Trail
- 1.5 mile easy hike. Wander through pines, oaks, rhododendron and
hemlock, with wildflowers along the way, to the 60 foot drop. Along the
route is Toms Branch Falls, another scenic fall. Trail begins at the end
of Deep Creek Rd. just past the Deep Creek Campground. Elevation gain is
Falls Trail -
2.5 mile easy hike. The most popular waterfall trail in the Tennessee side
of the park. Paved and suitable for wheelchairs and strollers, this
relatively flat trail passes through a pine and oak forest and a series of
cascades leading up to the 60 foot Laurel Falls. Trail begins at the
Laurel Falls parking area on Little River Rd. Elevation gain is 200 feet.
Creek Trail -
7.8 mile moderate trail beginning at the end of the Cades
Cove Loop at the Abrams Falls Trail. Stream crossing is required. The
trail ends at the Abrams Creek Campground.
Falls Trail - 5.5 mile moderate hike to Rainbow Falls that cascades
down 80 feet. Follows LeConte Creek and offers spectacular views at mile
5. Wanders through shady, cove hardwood and hemlock forests and mountain
wildflower. Great trail for the mushroom enthusiast. One of five trails
that leads to Mount LeConte's summit. Trail begins at the Rainbow Falls
trailhead on Cherokee Orchard Rd. Elevation gain is 3,820 feet.
Cascades Trail -
8.0 mile strenuous hike leading to the park's highest waterfall. Passes
through an old-growth forest before reaching the waterfall. From
Greenbrier, follow the signs to the Ramsey Cascades trailhead. Elevation
gain is 2,375 feet.
Mountain Loop Trail - A 7.4 mile strenuous trail beginning just past
the entrance to the Cades Cove Loop Road. Passing through second growth
hardwood forests of black locust, tulip poplar and oak trees the trail is
somewhat isolated and serene. The trail climbs Crooked Arm Ridge to Rich
Mountain along the ridge and descending down Indian Grave Gap Trail and
Rich Mountain Loop Trail past the John Oliver cabin in the Cove. Features
beautiful views of the Cove and wildlife viewing.
Fork Motor Nature Trail
- A one way, one lane paved auto tour 5.5 miles in length. Features
include Baskins Creek, Grotto Falls and the Place of a Thousand Drips.
Half way through the tour is a pull-off area leading to a 65 foot
Valley Nature Trail
- A 3,000 foot paved, level loop. Accommodates wheelchairs and strollers.
The level trail leads to distinct forest life zones, a river and the
remains of pre-park dwellings. Special communications media is available
at the Sugarlands Visitor Center. This trail is a favorite with visitors
with mobility and sensory impairments as well as older visitors and
families with strollers. Trailhead is located off Newfound Gap Rd., 1/4
fourth of a mile south of the Sugarlands Visitor Center.