Hiking trails in and around Townsend Tennessee and the Great Smoky Mountains

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A more comprehensive hiking guide and the official National Park Service map of the Smokies can be found at the Townsend Visitors Center.
The Great Smoky Mountains National Park provides a large number of hiking trails ranging from easy to primitive - offering enjoyment for everyone from novice to experienced backwoods hikers. Following is a list of a few of the trails in the area of the park nearest Townsend. This is not intended to be a complete trail list for the park. National Park trail guide books and maps may be purchased at the Townsend Visitors Center.
Pets are not allowed on hiking trails in the national park.


Hiking Trails


Easy Trails

Abrams Falls—5 miles
Start: Trailhead exit at Cades Cove Loop Road (approximately 5.5 miles.)
Features: Abrams Creek walkway and Abrams Falls
Caution: Slippery rocks around falls. Alternate route from Abrams Creek Ranger Station—12 miles.
Cucumber Gap (Loop)—5 miles
Start: Elkmont—Little River Trail to intersection with Cucumber Gap Trail.
Features: Beautiful river and easy family trail.
Laurel Falls—2.5 miles
Start: Parking area on Little River Road.
Features: Paved train and Laurel Falls. Virgin forest lies beyond falls.
Caution: Slippery rocks at falls.
Rich Mountain Loop (section)—1.5 miles (1-way)
Start: Cades Cove Loop Road to John Oliver Cabin.
Features: Historical significance and the Oliver cabin.
Schoolhouse Gap—4.5 miles
Start: Laurel Creek Road (approximately 4 miles from Townsend “Y”).
Features: Easy trail, solitude, and wildflowers.
West Prong—5.4 miles
Start: Great Smoky Mountain Institute to Bote Mountain Trail 
Features: Hardwood trees, creeks, and Walker Valley Cemetery
Caution: stream crossings

How Long Will It Take?
Two miles per hour is considered an average pace, while eight to ten miles is regarded as a maximum day – trip length. Be sure to take into account such factors as weather and group size when estimating traveling times.


Moderate Trails

Ace Gap—11 miles
Start: Rich Mountain Road to Beard Cane Trail.
Features: Ace Gap, crossing of old railroad bed, Great Smoky Mountain National Park boundary and solitude.
Chestnut Top—9 miles
Start: Townsend “Y” to Schoolhouse Gap Trail
Features: Convenient to Townsend and wildflowers.
Gregory Bald—9 miles
Start: Parsons Branch Road to Gregory Bald.
Features: Sheep Pen Gap and Gregory Bald. Incredible views of Cades Cove and flame azaleas in June!
Lumber Ridge—8 miles
Start: Tremont at Great Smoky Mountains Institute to Buckeye Gap.
Feature: Beautiful view and hardwood forests.
Middle Prong—Open-Ended
Start: Beyond Great Smoky Mountains Institute.
Features: Historical logging area, beautiful stream and cascades waterfall.
Rich Mountain—4.5 miles
Start: Rich Mountain Road to Indian Grave Gap Trail.
Features” Solitude. Approx 2,000 ft. to 3,600 ft. in 2.3 mi.
Starts at Rich Mountain Road
Russell Field—10 miles
Start: Cades Cove on Anthony Creek Trail.
Features: Views of Cades Cove, Russell Field and backcountry shelter.

How Should I Dress?
No mountain climbing equipment is needed. Comfortable walking shoes with extra socks or hiking boots are recommended for day walks. Be prepared for rain.


Strenuous Trails

Gregory Bald—11 miles
Start: Gregory Ridge Trail to Rich Gap.
Features: Old growth forest, Gregory Bald, beautiful scenery and flame azaleas (in June).
Spence Field
(1) Start from Cades Cove, Anthony Creek Trail—11 miles
(2) Start from Laurel Creek Road, Lead Cove—10 miles
Features: Bote Mountain Trail, Spence Field and outstanding views.
Caution: Rocky rutted trail to Spence.
Thunderhead Mountain—14 miles
From Spence Field. Hike 1.5 mi. east on Appalachian Trail.
Features: Rocky top and panoramic view.
Caution: Steep and strenuous trail.

 

 

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