This is not a bad hike, just not fair to rate it higher than 3 stars considering other places that give more rewarding experiences. The hike is short and definitely kid friendly. The views from the tower are the highest on the Foothills Parkway. At the end of it all you are on a man made structure and that makes it less of a hiking experience to me. I would recommend this for a quick morning or evening stroll if you are in the area.
Very rocky, especially coming down crooked creek trail. Good views of Cades cove in the winter, when the leaves have fallen. Look carefully where Rich mountain trail crosses the stream over to Indian Grave trail, I missed it the first time. Spend time looking over John Oliver homestead, almost 200y old. Overall nothing special, there are better hikes in the Smokies.
Picked a perfect day in the winter to do this one (today). But not my favorite .I stayed on Rich Mountain Loop to Indian Grave Gap and came down Crooked Arm. Definitely a good decision. If I ever do this again I will come down the same way. I hated Crooked Arm.
I just hike this trail today and I loved it. I could not asked for a better day to hike it. I wanted to hike it yesterday but it rained so we went today. Less than 2 miles in the ground was covered with snow which made our hike even better. At the top there was around 3 inches in spots and it was so great to look down at the valleys and see the change from snow to all green. The hike was moderate at worst. The guy that went with me is not in great shape and he had no problem. We did all 8.5 miles in less than 3.5 hours. I just loved this hike. Since it is a loop every thing you see is new and you dont have to see everything you saw on the way in again on your way out. I could not stop smiling it was just so beautiful. The views, the little water fall and the wild life made today my favorite hike to date. I would love to see it when the leaves change.