Gregory Ridge Trail to Gregory Bald is a 11.9 mile heavily trafficked out and back trail located near Townsend, TN that features beautiful wild flowers and is only recommended for very experienced adventurers. The trail offers a number of activity options and is accessible year-round. Horses are also able to use this trail.
Difficult day hike. Deep woods hike that is at a constant climb with no views along the way. Hiked this in June of 2015 on a 87 degree day. The azaleas were beautiful and the views from the bald are stunning. It was worth the climb. Take plenty of water and start early.
Extremely hard hike. Starts out easy as others have said but becomes incredibly hard with extreme elevation gain. The last bit before the bald was almost too much. Definitely worth it at the end as the bald is a huge and beautiful place to relax with excellent views. Definitely do this hike!
Amazing view. Azaleas were not at peak but still many colors to see. Tough hike. Bring lots of water. Can't beat having a picnic on top of a mountain!! Will definitely do again in the fall!!
*No facilities at the trail head. Make a stop at the CC Visitors Center before making your way to the trail*
Reading over the other reviews, below....there is nothing more I can really add. They've all hit the key points.
-NOT for beginners. Steep trail, 90% all up hill at a steady grade. Elevation gain of 3000 ft. Your legs and body WILL be sore, when you come off the trail
June 19th, the azaleas are no longer in their peak...however, there are plenty of flowers still on the bushes an the views are absolutely gorgeous. Still plenty of photo opportunities for the azalea lovers.
As of this date, the Friends of the Great Smoky Mountains are working on getting a log foot bridge over the water, at one spot. Right now, you must rock hop across the water, to continue onto the trail.
Minus some roots and rocks...the trail is in very good shape.
Three hours to hike up, 2 hours to hike down, and an hour to sit in the gorgeous tall grasses of the bald, and RELAX, before coming off the mountain. You will be very hungry by the time you reach the top...so make sure to bring a good snack or lunch. This beautiful area is heaven, to take a well deserved break and rest your feet.
First off, this trail is about 11.8 miles round-trip. Second, this has a reputation as one of the toughest hikes in the Smokies, and having hiked it I can attest that this rep is well-earned. The first couple of miles aren't too bad, but it then gets extremely difficult, with heavy, nearly interminable elevation gain. Basically this is not a trail for beginners.
However, please stick with this trail, because the end point is amazing. Before you get to the bald, you'll have some of the best views in all of the park, but once you're on top of the bald the views are breathtaking! Unlike other great vantage points (Jump-Off, et al), you're literally in a giant field, so you have room to put a blanket on the ground and picnic, or sunbathe, or even play frisbee (seriously, it's massive space). Second, while this is not the highest point in the Smokies, you can still see almost all of the park from here; there's virtually no obstructions
As difficult as this hike is, I believe everyone should do it at least once in their life. I'm going back in mid-June, when the flaming azaleas are supposed to be in full bloom and are evidently a must-see
Great hike but be ready for some substantial elevation gain!
This is a really great hike but it will challenge the average day hiker. 5.5 miles gaining over 500 ft/mile in elevation will test your level of fitness (assuming you keep a reasonable pace).
Some excellent old growth forests along the way....not many lookout points on the way up unfortunately. A beautiful mountain stream which you cross twice on well done foot bridge logs. On my hike, the trail was in reasonable condition, some areas of washing and erosion but very manageable. No climing of any kind required. On the accent, the last half mile is tough, prob about a 25-30 degree incline and somewhat rocky....but you are rewarded at the top with a magnificent view of the Smoky and Rich Mountain range from Gregory Bald...and in June..the wild azaieas are unbelieveable. It looks like an old home place that has been abandoned.
Start this hike as early as you can so that you can spend plenty of time up on the bald. These oddites (balds) in this part of the world are truly something to see and experience.
This will be one of my all time favorite hikes in the park. This hike is a tough one though so prepare accordingly. Elevation gain of 3000 feet on the trail means you are steadily climbing up,up that mountain. Mid June is definitely the time for this trail. On June 7th only the flame orange azaleas had bloomed. There are thousands at the top so you will be rewarded for your effort. Also the view from the top of the mountain is incredible. Lots of blueberry bushes in this soil. Would expect bear activity later in the season when they ripen. There is a stream crossing in the last .25 miles of this trail. We stopped to plunge our feet in the cold water. So refreshing. It was a nice reward at the end of our hike
Had a big storm a week ago, I apparently was the first one up the Ridge trail since then because the only tracks on the snow covered sections of the trail were mine & a bear (was cool! )
There is one stream you have to ford, it was cold, but not bad. Just below knees. Amazed I did not see a single bear (but over 60 different bear scat along the way - took pics of every 3rd one as a joke)
Horses share parts of the trail up to the top, so it can get muddy/slippery.
As others have said, utterly beautiful views (and I had cell service on top!)
Oh. My. Gosh. This trail was HARD but so worth it! Over 11 miles round trip, and according to hikinginthesmokys.com, 3020ft elevation gain! The hike up is very, very strenuous but offers beautiful scenery. Part of the way up you are hiking beside water and even when you can't see it, you can hear it. The closer we got to the intersection we heard tales of bears hanging around. We didn't see any on the way but did see one and a cub or
Two on the way down. The view is unlike anything I have ever seen. You can see all of Cade's cove, blueberries, and azaleas. We were a little too late to see the azaleas at their peak but was beautiful nonetheless. Highly recommend this hike. Being fairly inexperienced still and way out shape it took 5.5 hours to reach the top with roughly 30 minutes of that breaking for snacks and rest. Will do again in the future.
Walked to the bald June 03, 2014. Trail in good condition. Little bear sign noticed. Very foggy this day, visibility less than 1/4 mile.Azaleas just starting to bud out, would expect them to start popping in about a week.
Elevation change of 3,000 ft. In 5.5 miles! That is correct! A very experienced 82 year old woman hiker almost beat me to the summit. Beautiful views of Cades Cove in the Great Smokey Mtns. National Park. In the spring the azaleas of many colors, come into bloom.
The TOP is unlike anything you've ever encountered. It is heaven: a surreal landscape atop a mountain with feilds, trees, breeze, animals walking past. Amazing. The view. It was a blue-bird day that stretched across the valley floor.
Loved this trail. This is not for beginners. Great views of Cades Cove and mountains. During the winter, make sure to fully investigate trail conditions. Me and two others went recently. We checked the weather and it was going to be great, highs of 60's and low's of 30, sunshine, no clouds. Seeing this, we didn't think twice about there still being snow there. About three miles in, we ran into about an average of 8 inches of snow in the trail (knee deep at some points). That made it a much more difficult of a hike. We completed this trail and continued on to Gregory Bald Trail which took us to our campsite (#13). We started our trip at 12:30 and didn't make it to our campsite until 8:45. Aside from being unprepared, it was an excellent trail and would definitely hike it again. There are three creek crossings on this trail, two of them have bridges going across them. The third appeared to have one at one time but is no longer there. The third wasn't too difficult to cross but the water was a little high due to the snow melt. There was nobody else on this trail when we went but I hear traffic gets a little busier during the warmer months because of people hiking up to Gregory Bald.
We started this hike from Forge Creek Road in Cades Cove. The hike up to the bald was beautiful. There were many large trees and we saw frequent bear sign. The steepest part was at the very end before reaching the bald. The top was full of blueberries and azaleas of which we were too early to enjoy either. It was very foggy so the view was not what we had hoped for. We will definitely do this hike again.
Eric and Karen