Hiking

 

 

 

  Our Cabin is located just 4  miles fro the Metcalf Bottoms entrance to Great Smoky Mountain National Park. This location has far less traffic and crowds than other entrances. From Metcalf Bottoms you can hike to a several other trails. We have collected information on Metcalf Bottoms Trails, Trails with Views, Wildflower & Wooded Hikes, Fall Color Hikes, and Swimming Holes!

Be sure to check trail and road conditions: GSMNP Conditions

Plan your hiking route using with Official GSMNP Trail map.

Metcalf Bottoms entrance Map

 

Jump to: Metcalf Bottoms Trails, Trails with Views, Wildflower & Wooded HikesFall Color Hikes, Swimming Holes

 

Metcalf Bottoms Trails


Metcalf Bottoms Trail (easy)
This trail wanders through the Metcalf Bottoms area and evidence of the past can be found around every turn. As the trail leaves the picnic area, a pile of rocks off to the left are evidence of an old homesite. The trail reaches the top of a small hill, enters a rhododendron tunnel and starts to follow the Little Brier Branch. The trail is pretty much level at this point making for a pleasant journey through the woods. Several creek crossings are easily traversed by foot logs and the trail finally climbs up a small slope to arrive at the Little Greenbrier School.

Little Brier Gap Trail (easy)
The Little Brier Gap Trail starts in the old mountain community known as Little Greenbrier. The school and cemetery remain today, offering a glimpse of what life was like in the community. The wide path was an old road that follows the stream, Little Brier Branch toward Cove Mountain. It's an easy hike with a log footbridge allowing you easy passage across the creek.

Laurel Falls Trail (Intermediate)
The first portion of the Laurel Falls Trail is one of the most popular hikes in Great Smoky Mountains National Park due to it being paved, having only 300 feet of elevation gain, and a rewarding view of 80 foot Laurel Falls 1.1 miles into the trail. However, once you pass the falls, you have a relatively quiet hike in the woods to the top of Cove Mountain, where there is an old fire tower with limited views into Wears Valley, an area outside of the park.

Little Greenbrier Trail (Intermediate/Difficult)
Since this trail begins on the park boundary, it's a great trail even if most of the park roads are closed due to high water or snow. Even though it is easy to get to and has beautiful views, this trail is rarely used, so it is great if you are looking to get away from the crowds. As you start to work your way uphill, you get your first taste of what the majority of the trail will be. This trail climbs almost 2000 feet from where the trail starts at Wears Cove to Laurel Falls Trail. Its a continuous climb, but most people agree its not hard.

Cove Mountain Trail (Intermediate)
Laurel Falls and Cove Mountain is a 7.7 mile heavily trafficked out and back trail located near Gatlinburg, Tennessee that features a waterfall and is rated as moderate. The trail is primarily used for hiking, nature trips, and bird watching and is accessible year-round.
Curry Mountain Trail (Intermediate)
Curry Mountain Trail is a 6.4 mile moderately trafficked out and back trail located near Gatlinburg, Tennessee that features beautiful wild flowers and is rated as moderate. The trail offers a number of activity options and is accessible year-round.

Meigs Mountain Trail (Intermediate)
Meigs Mountain Trail is a 9.2 mile moderately trafficked out and back trail located near Gatlinburg, Tennessee that features beautiful wild flowers and is rated as moderate. The trail offers a number of activity options and is accessible year-round. Horses are also able to use this trail.

Meigs Creek Trail (Intermediate)
Meigs Creek Trail is a 6.5 mile out and back trail located near Gatlinburg, Tennessee that features a waterfall and is rated as moderate. The trail is primarily used for hiking, walking, and fishing and is best used from March until November.

Trails with Views

Alum Cave Trail
This popular trail will take you to Mt. LeConte. Along the way to the top you'll follow the stream for around a mile. The first landmark you'll come across is the Arch Rock, a black slate formation that arches over your path. The real attraction is Alum Cave Bluff, a massive overhang that was mined during the Civil War. At this landmark, you'll witness incredible mountain views.

Andrews Bald
If distant views of mountain ridges are what you seek, Andrews Bald Trail leads to the highest bald in the park (5,860 feet in elevation), which is perfect for stretching out in the grass to enjoy, not only views of Fontana Lake and azaleas in the spring, but also panoramic views of the park’s amazing fall coloration in autumn months. Remember not to plan this hike for winter months unless you want to add another 7 miles each way!

Anthony Creek Trail
This trail is 5.1 miles one way and is rated difficult, with an elevation gain of 3,000 feet. The trailhead is located at the far end of the Cades Cove picnic area. The combination of Anthony Creek and Bote Mountain Trails takes you to Spence Field where, by walking to the left on the AT, you’ll discover panoramic views. This trail winds through a mixed forest of hemlock, hardwood, and rhododendron with Anthony Creek on the right. A horse camp and campsite #9 are found along the way. The Bote Mountain Trail is an old road that passes along the ridge of Bote Mountain. When the road from Cades Cove to Spence Field was built in the 1850s, Cherokee workers were asked which ridge the road should follow. The workers pointed to the mountain and said “Bote”; i.e., “I vote for that one”, except there is no “V” sound in the Cherokee language.

Bull Head Trail
This trail is 12.6 miles round trip and is a strenuous climb. Take Historic Nature Trail/ Airport Road (light #8) in Gatlinburg. This road soon becomes Cherokee Orchard Road and you’ll cross the boundary to the park at 0.9 of a mile. Head to the right from the Rainbow Falls parking area into the woods and come to the intersection of trails. Turn right to get to the Bullhead Trail. This trail ascends through a canopy of young hemlock. You’ll find outstanding views as you continue your ascent. Watch for a boulder on the left after 3.0 miles that you can stand on to see over the heath into the valley below. On a clear day, one can see English Mountain to the northeast and Sugarland Mountain to the southeast. Elevation gain for this trail is 4,000 feet.

Charlies Bunion
This 8 mile roundtrip hike is rated moderate. Following the Appalachian Trail, this hike travels to rock crags along the state-line ridge, the main crest of the Smoky Mountains. By taking the AT trailhead in the corner of the Newfound Gap parking area, this segment will lead you to a rock outcropping, Charlie’s Bunion, which provides wonderful views of the Tennessee side of the mountains.

Chimney Tops Trail
Located about 7 miles past the Sugarlands Visitor Center on Newfound Gap Road, this 4 mile round trip hike is a very popular attraction in the Smokies. In 2 miles, hikers climb 1,650 feet! Two rock spires, 4,755 feet in elevation, await those who manage the strenuous path to the top. Please note that this trail is slippery in the spring due to its rocky nature and the creek that crosses it. Wear proper shoes and also remember to keep children close by. A spectacular 360-degree view awaits those who complete this climb!

Clingmans Dome
At 6,643 feet, Clingman's Dome is Great Smoky Mountains National Park’s highest point. It is the highest point in Tennessee. Clingmans Dome is a popular Park destination. Located along the state-line ridge, it is half in North Carolina and half in Tennessee. The peak is accessible after driving Clingmans Dome Road from Newfound Gap, and then walking a steep half-mile trail. A paved trail leads to a 54-foot observation tower. The Appalachian Trail crosses Clingmans Dome, marking the highest point along its 2,144 mile journey. Vistas from Clingmans Dome are spectacular. On clear, pollution-free days, views expand over 100 miles and into seven states. However, air pollution limits average viewing distances to 22 miles. Despite this handicap, breathtaking scenes delight those ascending the tower. It is a great place for sunrises and sunsets. Cloudy days, precipitation, and cold temperatures reveal the hostile environment atop Clingmans Dome. Proper preparation is essential for a good visit. Weather conditions atop Clingmans Dome change quickly. Snow can fall from anytime between September and May. Get a current weather forecast before heading to the tower.

Jakes Creek
Jakes Creek/Blanket Mountain Trail. This trail is 4.1 miles one way and is rated moderate with an elevation gain of 2,250 feet. The trailhead is located off of Jake’s Creek Road in Elkmont. The Jake’s Creek Trail climbs to Jake’s Gap where you can take the Blanket Mountain Trail to the summit of Blanket Mountain.

Look Rock
There is also an observation tower that is open to the public. To get to the tower you must take the 1/2 mile hike. The visibility from the observation tower can be up to 40 miles on clear days. On hazy days the visibility is much less, but the view is still one of the best around. The railing on the tower is low, so if you bring children, be sure to keep an eye on them. There is also a natural observation on the opposite side of the Look Rock parking lot, although it still harbors beautiful views, it does not offer the 360 degree panoramic view like the tower. The trail curves left at 0.9 of a mile and continues to ascend through large hemlocks and poplars. Watch for a large poplar that leans over but then bends and stretches straight up in search of light above the canopy.

Lower Mount Cammerer Trail
This trail is 7.4 miles one way and is rated difficult with and elevation gain of 2,600 feet. trailhead is located at the Cosby access in the campground near campsite B100. There is limited parking and the campground is closed in the winter, so you may need to park at the backpacker’s parking area near the registration hut. This trail is part of a long backpack loop that takes you by the Mount Cammerer fire tower. The trail ascends through hardwoods and rhododendron to a rock-hop crossing of a creek at 0.9 of a mile that flows down to Toms Creek, which is audible on the left. The trail then descends to cross this main creek on a footbridge at 1.0 mile. At 2.3 miles along the AT, you’ll reach a gap where the Mt. Cammerer Trail leads right 0.6 of a mile out to the Mt. Cammerer fire tower, perched atop a rock outcropping known locally as “White Rocks”. From here you can enjoy one of the best views in the park.

Maddron Bald Trail
This trail is 7 miles one way and is rated difficult. The trailhead is located off of US-321 between Cosby and Gatlinburg, 15 miles east of Gatlinburg, turn right onto Baxter Road (Past Yogi Bear Jellystone Park Camp Resort) and make a right onto Laurel Springs Road. Look for a gravel road blocked by a gate. This is the trailhead. This trail ascends to a heath bald with several picturesque views and along the way takes you by the Albright Grove Nature Trail (1.3 miles in) that contains one of the park’s best stands of virgin forest. Look for a yellow poplar or tulip tree, the “largest known specimen in the park”, that is 135 feet tall and over 25 feet in circumference. Maddron Bald Trail is home to campsite #29. Elevation gain is 3,500 feet.

Sugarland Mountain Trail
This trail is 12.3 miles one way and is rated moderate with an elevation gain of 3,500 feet. The trailhead is located off Little River Road at the Laurel Falls parking area. This trail connects Little River Road with the crest of the Smokies, passing a good view of Mt. LeConte. The trail first climbs through a pine-hemlock woods and then turns right into a hardwood forest. You’ll climb steeply and cross the upper reaches of a ravine and a small stream. After 9 miles you’ll find an arrow carved in a tree on the left. This is the junction of a 0.4 of a mile un-maintained manway that drops down to connect with the Chimney Tops Trail.

Low Gap Trail Access
This trail is 5.4 miles one way and is rated moderate with an elevation gain of 2,600 feet. The trailhead is located at the Cosby access in the campground just before the B100 campsite. This trail provides a shorter route to the Mt. Cammerer fire tower and forms a loop hike with the Appalachian Trail and the Lower Mt. Cammerer Trail. The trail’s ascent follows Cosby Creek, with a ravine separating the trail from the creek on your right.

Wildflower & Wooded Hikes

Appalachian Trail
Appalachian Trail The Appalachain Trail, which streches over 2,000 miles, from Maine to Georgia, was first proposed by Benton MacKaye as an effort to connect various parks nationally. The 2,175 mile trail crosses six national parks, including the Smokies, and it is said that to walk the length of the Trail would take over five million foot steps, a feat that over 10,000 people claim to have over the past 83 years. The part of the trail that stretches over the Smoky Mountains is 293 miles and it is suggested to go in Late May through October as the winter months will have much snowfall and Spring time brings lots of rain. Where the Trail runs through the Smokies is known as the Roan Highlands which is home to wide open views of grassy balds, such as Hump Mountain and plentiful Rhododendron gardens. These balds are also spots which can harbor serious and dangerous weather and lightning is quite common in the summer months.

Brushy Mountain Trail
This trail is 11.8 miles roundtrip and is rated moderate. trailhead is accessed 1 mile up the Porters Creek Trail. At the top of the road, turn around to find the beginning of the Brushy Mountain Trail. This trail has frequent patches of wildflowers in the spring and several stream crossings. At 0.4 of a mile you’ll see an old home site on the right that is marked by a collapsed chimney and washtub. Elevation gain for this trail is 2,500 feet. Take note that several trails will cross this path; make sure to determine your direction using trail signs!

Cove Hardwood Nature Trail
One of the shorter wildflower trails, this 0.8 of a mile loo is located inside the Chimney’s Picnic Area, provides easy access to a stand of old-growth forest, as well as wonderful wildflower viewing opportunities in the spring. Take a quick hike and then head to a picnic table for a relaxing meal. Simply drive up Newfound Gap Road/US-441 to the Chimney’s Picnic Area and then look for parking on the right almost immediately upon entering this area. The trailhead is above the parking lot.

Gregory Ridge Trail
This trail is 4.9 miles one way and is rated moderate with an elevation gain of 2,700 feet. The trailhead is located at the end of Forge Creek Road. This trail is one of the most popular routes to get to Gregory Bald, which, in the spring is a patchwork quilt of blooming azalea. The Gregory Ridge Trail begins by leading around the base of a ridge through lush rhododendron and mountain laurel, both adding to the spring and summer floral display for which this trail is famous. Also, at 0.3 of a mile you will see where Bower Creek spills down to join Forge Creek.

Cucumber Gap Trail
Little River, Cucumber Gap, & Jake’s Creek Loop This trail is a 5.1 mile, one way loop, rated easy, with an elevation gain of 1,000 feet. The trailhead is located in Elkmont at the road fork, 2.3 miles from the Little River Road turnoff. Parking at the turnaround or along the side of the road is an option. This relatively easy walk on an old roadbed that keeps company with the Little River most of the way is a nice day hike for families and is pretty year round. The road you follow into Elkmont is the old route of the Little River Railroad, part of the Little River Lumber Company, a major logging enterprise during the time when the forest was cut for lumber. Along the road you will pass the site of the Wonderland Hotel on the left. Built by the Wonderland Park Company, the hotel opened in 1912 to serve people riding the logging train into the mountains. Along your hike occasional benches invite you to stop and enjoy the sunshine on the violets, spring beauty, hepatica, and anemones in spring

Porters Creek Trail
This trail is 3.7 miles one way and is rated easy and one of the more popular wildflower trails. Head east from Gatlinburg on US-321, turn south at 5.9 miles into Greenbrier. The road follows along the west side of the Little Pigeon River and becomes gravel in one mile. Continuing straight, you’ll pass a picnic area on the left and then reach the end of the road and the beginning of Porters Creek Trail. This is an outstanding trail for wildflowers! In March and April you’ll find bloodroot, trillium, May apple, trout lily, chickweed, phlox, spring beauty, and toothwort. Elevation for this trail is 1,550 feet.

Ramsey Cascades Trail
This trail is 8 miles roundtrip and rated moderate. trailhead access for Ramsay Cascade is found by turning left at 3.2 miles along the Greenbrier Road. This road follows along the Middle Prong of the Little Pigeon River for 1.5 miles until it is blocked; this is the trailhead for Ramsay Cascades. The trail begins at the end of the parking lot area and soon crosses the Middle Prong of the Little Pigeon River on a wooden bridge. You’ll gradually ascend through large boulders and a forest of hemlock and mixed hardwood along an old roadbed with a stream on the right. Elevation gain for this trail is 2,200 feet.

Russell Field Trail
This trail is 5 miles one way and is rated moderate with an elevation gain of 2400 feet. The trailhead is located at the back of the Cades Cove Picnic Area or 1.5 miles down the Anthony Creek Trail. This short trail serves to connect the Anthony Creek Trail with the Appalachian Trail to form a backpacking loop while passing Russell Field.

Snake Den Ridge Trail
This trail is 5.3 miles one way and is rated moderate. The trailhead is located in Cosby Campground, in the southeast corner, at campsite B55. Walk up the gravel road and the trail joins a horse trail from the left that is a connector trail with the Low Gap Trail. Along this road you’ll walk through second-growth deciduous forest, and in the fall, the woods are draped in brilliant reds and yellows. The trail climbs up the ridge of Snake Den Mountain through a series of switchbacks. At 2.4 miles, an overlook provides a view of Cosby Cove. Continuing straight ahead, the Snake Den Ridge Trail passes spruce and fir as it reaches the crest of the mountain range at 5.3 miles and joins the Appalachian Trail at Inadu Knob.

Fall Color Hikes

Abrams Falls Trail
Located only 30 miles outside of Pigeon Forge, this trail is a favorite among tourists and nature lovers looking for beautiful waterfalls, easy biking paths, and exotic wildlife. Located off an 11-mile loop of the Cades Cove Trail, the entire hike itself is only 5 miles round-trip. The falls are 20 feet high. This trail is perfect for visiting day-trip hikers, with a round-trip hike only taking approximately 3 to 4 hours to complete. The fall colors and great locations are perfect for family hikers.

Clingmans Dome
Located only 30 miles from Pigeon Forge, Clingman’s Dome, the highest point in the Great Smoky Mountains, is an attraction not to be missed. After a short half-mile hike along a paved path, you will find yourself atop a tower at more than 6,600 ft. Temperatures at the dome are approximately 10 to 20 degrees cooler than on the forest floor. Due to this temperature difference, the trees at this elevation begin changing colors earlier in the season. Because of the temperature difference, this trail is a good choice for visitors looking for beautiful fall foliage early in the year, as well as those looking for a short but rewarding hike. With panoramic views spanning 100 miles in all directions, and a family atmosphere that welcomes biking and pets, this is a sight not to be missed in Pigeon Forge.

Andrews Bald
Not all hikes to see fall colors are long and treacherous. In fact, the Andrews Bald Trail, which is right outside Clingman's Dome, is only about 3.5 miles round trip. The mild elevation makes this hike less strenuous for tired legs and much more family friendly. Along the hike you are sure to see spruce fir trees, acres of grassy meadows, and last but not least, the beautiful fall colors.

Alum Cave Trail
This trail, located 20 miles from Pigeon Forge, is for the more experienced hiker and offers everything veterans of the outdoors are looking for. This 10 mile, round-trip trail leads towards the summit of Mt. LeConte and offers other vantage points halfway along the trail at the Alum Cave Bluffs. The hike from beginning to end sees a 1200 ft. elevation change which shows its guests a wide range of colors and sights. With a wide variety of trees such as maples, hickories, and birches, this hike provides a wide range of fall colors continuously from Early October through November.

Mount Cammerer
If you and your family are looking for an all day event, Mount Cammerer is the perfect hike. The trail consists of 11 beautiful, but very steep, miles. The terrain is rugged, and you will climb over 3000 feet in elevation before reaching the summit. Don't let the difficulty intimidate you because every step you take on your way up to the top is rewarding. Along the way you will see historic marks along the Appalachian Trail, beautifully crafted lookouts, and endless panoramic views of the colors. At 4928 feet in elevation, the summit of Mt. Cammerer sits on the edge of a rocky outcropping overlooking the Pigeon River Gorge. On a clear day the views are simply awesome; some even say the best in the Park.

Spence Field
Spence Field is a great trail near Cades Cove that offers a ton of great options to veer off in a new direction. Not only can you hike this trail to see the fall colors, but you can also ride horseback on parts. The 10.3 miles is broken up by breathtaking lookouts, unique foliage, and picnic benches for the entire family. Once you reach the top, there is nothing standing in between you and miles and miles of fall colors.

Swimming Holes!

Greenbrier
Greenbrier Swimming Hole Located near Gatlinburg on the Little Pigeon River, the Greenbrier swimming hole is an easily accessible spot from route 321. This is a deep part of the river so it is great for swimming and it is not widely known by tourists, so it is peaceful and quiet. It is also a superb spot for sunbathing on the large stones. It is one of the cleanest mountain rivers in the entire park.

Townsend
Townsend Wye This is a great swimming hole for families on a hot summer day, and it's free. Locally known as just the Y, this huge swimming hole features small rapids for tubes, a jump off rock, and several large pools with enough space to spread out in the water. Bring plenty of sunscreen, some lawn chairs, and maybe even a picnic blanket. You'll find the Y right at the entrance to the national park in Townsend, Tennessee.

Abrams Falls Way
Abrams Falls Located within Cades Cove, this deep swimming hole is a popular spot between spring and early fall. There is a 2.5-mile hike to get there, but it’s definitely worth the effort! It is a very large swimming hole, around 100 feet wide in all directions, so there will be plenty of room to splash around even when it is busy. However, make sure that you don’t swim too close to the turbulent waterfall.

Metcalf Bottoms Trail
Metcalf Bottoms Swimming Area This picnic area is located between Townsend and Gatlinburg and offers access to the Little Greenbrier River. There are several shallow swimming holes that are scattered around a picnic area and it is a perfect place to throw a tube into the water and just relax in the sunshine. There are also many tables around the water where you could have a picnic.

Big Creek Trail
Midnight Hole This popular swimming hole is part of Big Creek and is characterized by large boulders and a small waterfall. It is deep enough to swim in throughout the year. It is also close to some nearby natural attractions including Mouse Branch Falls. Midnight Hole is known as one of the best swimming holes in the Great Smoky Mountains and the water is so deep that when the sun shines through the pool has a beautiful dark shimmering light.
Jump to: Metcalf Bottoms Trails, Trails with Views, Wildflower & Wooded HikesFall Color Hikes, Swimming Holes