Jerry Bryan's Web Pages

Jerry's Hiking Log

I have decided to start logging my hikes.  These are in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park unless otherwise indicated.  Other hikes through the years that are not logged include: Rich Mountain Loop, Abrams Falls from Cades Cove (many times), Laurel Falls (many times), Ramsay Cascades (several times), Abrams Falls from the Abrams Creek Ranger Station (one time), and Rainbow Falls.

06/09/1999 3.2 miles round trip plus the little extras

Crib Gap

Parked at Cades Cove campground parking lot, hiked maybe 0.1 or 0.2 miles and forded Anthony Creek to trail head at Cades Cove picnic area.  Also, went an extra 0.1 mile at the end of the trail to see the horse path which goes to a tunnel under Laurel Creek Road.  Did not go through the tunnel because a creek goes through the tunnel and the creek bed is too wet and slick.  Also, went an extra 0.2 miles at the end of the trail on Turkeypen Ridge trail to Laurel Creek Road.  Total round trip was about 2.5 hours.  In the future, the Cades Cove picnic area is a much better place to park for any trail heads originating at this point.  You see very few people on the trail, but you do hear a lot of traffic on Laurel Creek Road (the road to Cades Cove).

06/13/1999 7.2 miles round trip

Anthony Creek

Parked at Cades Cove picnic area parking lot.  Hiked the trail as per the book, ending at the T intersection with the Bote Mountain trail on the crest of the ridge.  A great view of Cades Cove would be available from the top of the ridge, except that there are too many trees in the way.  Round trip was about 4.5 hours.  It was all uphill on the way up, no ups and downs, and all downhill on the way back.  The trail seems to cross Anthony Creek quite a few times, more times than are shown on the map.  Back country camp site #9 is on the trail.  This is the first time I have run across a back country camp site.  There was no shelter, but there were many good sites to set up a tent.  There were of course no facilities.  You see very few people on the trail.  The trail is very pleasant because it follows the creek until the last little bit.

06/19/1999 5.0 miles round trip

Abrams Falls from Cades Cove

Hiked to the falls from Cades Cove parking lot.  Total round trip was about 3 hours, stopping to eat and enjoy the view for a long time at the falls, and meandering a good bit going to and from the falls.  The sign says "moderate", but the hike actually is quite easy.  Hiking among mountain laurel thickets which run along Abrams Creek is quite wonderful, at least in part because the trail is flat and wide when it follows the creek.  The trail is overrun with people.

10/01/1999 6.0 miles round trip

Twin Arches Loop (Big South Fork)

Hiked to the twin arches from the parking lot.  Turned right and hiked the loop counter-clockwise, returning to the twin arches.  Returned to the parking lot.  There is confusing documentation because literature says the loop is 4.6 miles and that the hike is 6.0 miles.  Both figures are correct.  It is 0.7 miles from the parking lot to the twin arches, 4.6 miles around the loop, and 0.7 miles back to the parking lot.  Hiking in a counter-clockwise direction, you pass Cherit Lodge about 3/4 of the way around the loop.  If you were just going to Cherit Lodge, you would turn left at the twin arches and begin the loop in a clockwise direction.

11/26/1999 10.2 miles round trip plus the little extras

Mt. Le Conte via Alum Cave Trail

It was a perfect day, unusually warm for November and very clear.  Hiked the 5.1 miles to the lodge.  Hiked the 0.2 miles to Cliff Top, from whence there is a marvelous view of downtown Gatlinburg.  Also, had a marvelous view of the Tennessee Valley and could even see the Cumberland Plateau.  Hiked about 0.3 in the Boulevard Trail to see the shelter, and then returned to the lodge.

05/13/2000 11.2 miles round trip

Mt. Cammerer from Cosby Campground

It was a hot day early on, but cooled off later with threats of a thunderstorm.  There was thunder off to the south (on the North Carolina side of the mountain), but it never rained on the trail.  Hiked 0.4 miles from the Cosby Campground parking lot to the trail head, 2.5 miles to Low Gap, 2.1 miles to the Mt. Cammerer Lookout trail, and 0.6 miles to the Mt. Cammerer Lookout.  The 2.1 miles from Low Gap to the Mt. Cammerer trail are on the Appalachian Trail, roughly following the Tennessee/North Carolina state line.  The last 0.6 mile trail is a spur off the Appalachian trail, and is the only route to the lookout.  Visibility was outstanding, and there was a marvelous view of Cosby, Interstate 40, the mountains in North Carolina, the mountains in Tennessee, and the Tennessee Valley in the distance.

10/20/2000 3.6 miles round trip plus 1.0 miles round trip

Andrews Bald from Clingmans Dome parking lot plus Clingmans Dome tower from parking lot

It was a cool day.  Drove through Townsend and Little River Road to Sugerlands, thence to Newfound Gap and Clingmans Dome.  It was the absolute peak of the color season, so the colors were spectacular until about halfway to Newfound Gap when the trees became mostly evergreen.  The color was especially good on Little River Road.  Visibility from the Andrews Bald was restricted by haze and clouds.  It took about an hour to get to the bald, but a little longer to get back.  The short trek up to the Clingmans Dome observation tower is quite steep, and the air is thin.  It seems harder every time I do it.

05/28/2001 (Labor Day) 4.6 miles round trip

Middle Prong Trail to Panther Creek Trail from Tremont Road parking lot.

Tremont Road is a left turn a very short distance (less than a quarter of a mile) up the Laurel Creek Road (the road to Cades Cove) after turning right at the Townsend Y.  It's about a 3.1 mile drive from Laurel Creek Road to the trailhead at the end of Tremont Road.  The road was washed out in a flood a few years ago, but has been rebuilt.  The road is so narrow that there are stop signs guarding one narrow section.

The road follows the creek, and then the trail follows the creek.  Even though the trail is called the Middle Prong Trail, the trail follows the Lynn Camp Prong.  It's a very easy and pleasant trail, shaded and following the creek all the way.

2.3 miles up the trail is the Panther Creek Trail trailhead.  There is a difficult ford to begin the Panther Creek Trail, and the creek was running high.  A couple well equipped with walking sticks got very wet despite the walking sticks and despite helping each other.  So I skipped the ford until another day.

06/03/2001 4.2 miles round trip

West Prong Trail to West Prong Backcountry Campsite.

See 05/28/2001 for Tremont Road description.  The West Prong Trail trailhead is on the right, about a half mile before you get to the end of the road.

The trail makes a fairly easy climb for about a mile, and then makes a fairly easy descent for about a mile to West Prong.  The trail follows the creek briefly, and then there is a bridge across the creek to the West Prong Backcountry Campsite.

There are two slightly different routes for the first quarter mile or so.  The left route is the "main" route, and the right route takes you by a cemetery.  Some of the cemeteries in the mountains are very old, and are no longer being used.  This one may be very old, but it is still in use.  It is very well kept, and there are fresh graves in addition to some very old ones.

6/18/2001 6.2 miles round trip

Middle Prong Trail to Panther Creek Trail from Tremont Road parking lot, ford the creek, and about a mile up the Panther Creek trail.

Repeated the hike from 05/28/2001 because the trail was so pleasant the first time, plus forded the creek and went about a mile up the Panther Creek trail.  The creek was not running so high, but it was still a difficult ford.

06/23/2001-06/24/2001 13.1 miles round trip

Boulevard Trail to Mount Le Conte Lodge, return via Alum Cave Trail.

Began hike at Newfound Gap parking lot, going west on Appalachian Trail for about 2.8 miles to the Boulevard Trail trailhead.  At various places on the AT, there are great views down into both Tennessee and North Carolina.  The AT at this point basically follows the crest of the ridge and the state line, but does fall off the crest on the Tennessee side quite a bit.

The Boulevard Trail is fairly narrow (extremely narrow in places), following the crest of the ridge between Mount Kephart and Mount Le Conte.  It's flatter than some of the other routes to Mount Le Conte, but there is still a good bit of up and down.  It's 5.2 miles from the AT to the Mount Le Conte lodge.  Total one way trip is 8.0 miles.  This is the longest route to Mount Le Conte, but it is still the easiest one.

Stopped at Myrtle Point (second highest point on Mount Le Conte) and at High Point (highest point on Mount Le Conte and second highest point in Tennessee) on the way to the lodge.  The view from Myrtle Point is much better.  You can see Newfound Gap, Clingmans Dome, and way back into North Carolina.  There are too many trees at High Point for a good view, but people are building a rock formation to make the point higher.  Everybody is supposed to add a rock, so I did, too.

Spent the night at the lodge, and returned via Alum Cave Trail (see 11/26/1999).  It takes two people and two cars to hike the mountain this way, going up one trail and returning another.  The lodge is a wonderful place to spend the night.  There is no electricity, but there are cabins, propane heat, and a mess hall with wonderful food.  They serve dinner and breakfast, and you have to carry in your lunch and snacks.  Reservations are required to stay at the lodge, and are almost impossible to get.

09/30/2001 6.0 miles round trip

Cades Cove Loop Road at Night.

This was not a true back country hike, but rather a stroll around the Cades Cove loop road at night after the road was closed to vehicular traffic.  It was a perfectly clear night with no haze in the air, and a nearly full moon.  The cove is well lit under under these circumstances.

The entire loop is about 11 miles, so did not walk the entire loop.  Rather, went about 3 miles around the loop, stopped to eat, and returned to the parking lot.  The parking lot is at the entrance to the loop road.

03/24/2002 3.2 miles round trip

Norris Dam, River Bluff Trail

This was not a true back country hike, but rather a stroll on the bluff along the Clinch River immediately below Norris Dam.  Wild flowers were out a little earlier than in the Smokies.  There were trout lilies (yellow), bloodroot (white), spring beauties (white), and violets (purple).  Also, there were buds on may apples (no flowers yet), and some buds on trillium (no flowers yet).

Norris Lake was at full pool, and the river below the lake was running very high.  The high water was due to recent heavy rains and flooding.  The river was spilling over the top of the Weir dam in the river below Norris dam.  (The Weir dam is a very low dam in the river designed to create turbulence and thereby to oxygenate the water.)

09/26/2004 2.0 miles round trip

Three Bend Scenic and Wildlife Management Refuge Area, Oak Ridge Reservation, Anderson County

This was a special hike of an area that is normally closed to the public.  The "three bends" are on the Clinch River.  They are Solway Bend, Freels Bend, and Gallaher Bend.  The hike was in the Solway Bend area.

Parked at the old Scarbrough School at the intersection of Scarbrough Road and Bethel Valley Road.  Caravanned towards the Clinch River.  A public park is down the road (formerly called the Union Carbide Park, now called the Clark Center Recreation Park).  To access the wildlife area, prior to getting to the park you have to turn left through a gate that is normally locked.

The area is owned by DOE.  It was formerly operated as a research station by UT.  It is now managed by the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency.

07/16/2005 1.3 miles round trip

Kings Mountain National Military Park

This was not a true hike in the normal sense of the word.  Kings Mountain is the site of one of the most significant battles of the Revolutionary War.  As battlefields go, it's a very small site.  There is a 1.3 mile paved loop trail that goes all the way around the battlefield.

04/16/2006 11.2 miles round trip

Gregory Bald

This was my first trip to Gregory Bald.  I went with my son.  We had to use the Gregory Ridge trail, which is a little longer than the Gregory Bald trail, because Parsons Branch Road is closed and the trailhead for the Gregory Bald trail is on Parsons Branch Road.  The road is closed because of flood damage.

I need to return to Gregory Bald in June to see the flame azaleas.  But even without the azaleas, the hike was beautiful.  There are acres and acres of wild flowers carpeting the forest floor near the top.  And the view from the bald is spectacular.

The Gregory Bald trailhead is in Cades Cove.  Take the Cades Cove loop to the Visitors Center.  At the Visitors Center, take Forge Creek Road.  Forge Creek Road basically ends at Parsons Branch Road.  If Parsons Branch Road is open, you can take it to the Gregory Bald trailhead.  If Parsons Branch Road is closed, there is a tiny spur of Forge Creek Road that goes on past Parsons Branch Road for about 100 feet where Forge Creek Road really ends.  The Gregory Ridge trailhead is at the actual end of Forge Creek Road, and the Gregory Ridge trail provides an alternative route to Gregory Bald.

06/18/2006 4.4 miles round trip

Schoolhouse Gap

This was my first hike on the Schoolhouse Gap trail.  I really wouldn't normally think of a 2.2 mile hike (one way) as a sufficient hike.  Indeed, I think people normally hike on Schoolhouse Gap trail primarily because of the connections it makes with other trails.  But on this particular occasion, it was very hot and I only had about half a day, including travel time to and from the mountains.  The trail is very pleasant, with very little climbing.  The first part of the trail follows a small creek, and the whole trail appears originally to have been an old wagon road.

The trailhead is on Laurel Creek Road about halfway between the Townsend Y and the entrance to Cades Cove.  The trail goes to the right (north) towards the park boundary.  And indeed, when you get to Schoolhouse Gap at the end of the trail, there is a gravel, country road and someone's home.  The private home appears to be outside the park.  At that point is also the trailhead for the Scott Mountain trail.  Unless the road is private, I suspect you could drive to Schoolhouse Gap and to the Scott Mountain trailhead without first having to hike up the Schoolhouse Gap trail.

07/02/2006 4.6 miles round trip

Ace Gap

This was my first hike on the Ace Gap trail.  Just like my last hike to Schoolhouse Gap, I really wouldn't normally think of a 2.3 mile hike (one way) as a sufficient hike.  But again, it was very hot and I only had about half a day, including travel time to and from the mountains.  The trail is very pleasant, with very little climbing.  I didn't take the whole trail, only going as far as back country campsite #4.

The trailhead is on the old Cades Cove Road.  It can be accessed by driving into Cades Cove and exiting via the Rich Mountain Road.  Also, it can be accessed by taking the old Cades Cover Road from Townsend.  You turn in Townsend at the Tuckaleechee Caverns turnoff and just sort of keep going.  The trailhead is at the park boundary.  The road actually continues into the park as the Rich Mountain Road.  But the Rich Mountain Road is one-way, exiting from Cades Cove.  So you either have to park at the trailhead, or else just turn around and drive back to Townsend.

I was planning to hike the Scott Mountain trail using the same strategy.  On maps, it appears that you can drive to the Scott Mountain trailhead directly from Townsend without first driving to Laurel Creek Road and hiking 2.2 miles to the trailhead.  All you would have to do would be to drive on Schoolhouse Gap Road to the park boundary.  It turns out that Schoolhouse Gap Road turns from a paved road into a gravel road, and then into a private driveway that is gated.  I suspect it's not very far from the gate to the Scott Mountain trailhead.  But there is no place to park at the gate.  Plus, even if you parked and walked in, you would be on a private driveway and probably would be trespassing.

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This page last edited on 25 Apr 2017.