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5 days ago

A challenging hike well worth the views from Rocky Top.

10 days ago

good lordy is this a thigh burner. first mile isnt bad but then its a constant incline. my camp site was over ran by bees so i just pushed to rocky top and thunder head. well worth the push. the blue haze and smokey clouds that roll in are worth an hour long site to embrace.

17 days ago

We took off via the Lead Cove trail head, and only ran into a few people before reaching the Bote Mountain split. It is a climb from start to finish. Spence Field is a great place to take a break before heading on up to Rocky Top, where the view is amazing. We spent more time up there than we meant to.

I knew what I was getting into with this hike, but it was still very challenging. Prepare for a long difficult trip if you aren't in excellent shape. My tracker also said that it was 12.8 instead of 11.6 round trip so keeping up with that threw me off a little bit.

1 month ago

ATTENTION: If you take the Lead Cove trail you will see bears guaranteed. They are harmless but on the way back down I walked within 5 feet of one in a laurel thicket before we noticed each other. Be aware of your surroundings

This is a great hike for multiple reasons. Before I explain why it’s important to know there are multiple ways to eventually reach Rocky Top. The description on here will take up the Lead Cove trail which is the route I took. The other way which people have reviewed on here is to start on the Anthony Creek trail near Cades Cove. Both are lightly traveled compared to most trails in the Smokies, but Lead Cove trail is less traveled.

The first time I tried to complete this trail was a late evening hike in which I walked up on a momma bear and cub. They were no threat, but they would only walk away not run... and stayed on the trail. They slowed me down so much that I had to hike back down as I was not going to make it to the summit before dark.

I completed it finally this week. I saw 0 people the first 3 miles up lead cove to Bote Mountain trail. I met one person at the Anthony Creek trail intersection. The hike has a gradual elevation gain all the way from the Trailhead to the AT. This portion is not difficult at all if you do any hiking at all. Once on the AT the climb to Rocky Top is constantly steep and moderately strenuous. There are 360 views at the top which includes views of Fontana Lake and Dam.

This hike is great for avid hikers who actually enjoy hiking and not taking essentially a group walk through the woods with tons of people.

We did this trail from the Cades Cove Picnic Area to Anthony's Creek to Rote Mountain to the AT.

Rocky Top is amazing, Thunderhead is less so but still a beautiful view. This is a worthwhile, 14-mile hike. The mountain laurel and flame azaleas are starting to bloom. Raspberry bushes and blueberry bushes are common on the AT before Rocky Top.

Strenuous on a hot day. Not easy by any means. The trail is very rocky and there is no view until you get to the top. There was a massive amount of bugs at the top. There must be better hikes in the Smokies...this is the only one I have done.

First you should know the road up to the trail head is washed out so don't expect to get there with a car or anything with low clearance. We had actually rented a Ford 250 so had no issues other than a bit of a bumpy ride up. We did find the trail head just fine. I would suggest taking a GPS as though we were able to find the trail and stay on it there were certainly times where the trail was questionable and no markings to keep you on it. Some steep inclines/declines but not an overly difficult trail if you are in shape which if you are going to do an 11 mile hike I would like to think you should be. Saw several turtles along the way but that was it for wildlife. Was a little underwhelmed by the rockpile but that may have been more of my high expectations. It was a fun hike and I will definitely be back to do more trails in the area.

3 months ago

The route is quite challenging, though there is never a part of it that is overwhelming or very steep. It just steadily climbs and climbs and climbs. It gains over 4000 ft, and that’s rare to find among trails. The view at the top is amazing, like something out of lord of the rings. When I hiked, the upper elevations were sans leaves, but wildflowers were coming through. The one thing I wish were featured was a greater variety of landscapes. Most of it was through similar looking forest until the Appalachian trail. I would do again for the challenge. Plan accordingly: I would allocate 6-7 hours if you want a nice break at the top.

I hiked this trail plus several more miles to hw 21. The trail was well maintained as well as the camp sights. You gain elevation quickly and enjoy a challenging hike with rewarding views. Not much water so bring plenty.

4 months ago

Very hard if you are not in the best shape, but super worth it! It is so beautiful at the top.

I must be a terrible hiker. People on here claim to start at the Bell Mountain Wilderness (Highway A) and get to the peak (Taum Sauk) in 6 hours with 30lbs packs and what have you. Bell Mountain to Taum Sauk is a 30 mile trail. That's 10 minute miles. Plan ahead and give yourself some time. It took us about 14-15 hours to complete across two days. Saw some boars, very pretty waterfall, amazing viewpoints. Everything you can need to know about this trail is located on the OzarkTrail website.

5 months ago

Feels like Max Patch, except you must earn the views. Steady climb from start. Bote Mtn is the toughest stretch because of the rockiness (huh?). The final climb from Spence Field is a little steeper than the description led us to believe. But worth every bit of labor. Bottom to top in 3:15. 90 minute snooze and snack. Top to bottom in 2:30ish.

5 months ago

My husband and I hiked this trail last summer and it was a great experience! Definitely a rugged trail, and any visitors should be fully prepared with water and water filtration systems if they're planning on a longer trek. The views were worth any difficulties!!! We were also surprised by several cleared campsites along the way that weren't on the MO State Parks map.

5 months ago

I did Bell Mountain Wilderness to Taum Sauk Mountain State Park. This portion of my trip was absolutely beautiful! It was rocky, rugged, and steep; give yourself plenty of time. I planned to camp here; it took me 6.5 hours to finish this portion with a 30lb pack. I recommend doing this in the fall, winter, or early spring as there will be some overgrown areas. Ketcherside Mountain had some amazing views. Please leave no trace!!

6 months ago

6 months ago

Great place to hike - was a little muddy in spots but nothing extreme - great place to take pictures

We loved laying on the rocks & playing in the river. Cool spot

Good scout trail

Great little hike, take your time!

It took us at least 90 minutes to even find the trail. The GPS had us turning down roads that didn't exist, then rerouting us to gravel single lane roads that went nowhere. After circling the area once looking for a brown sign...we tried a gravel road we had turned around on once already and decided to just park the car and walk that road, which was CR 2124 that turned out to be the right road. There are no brown markers or any kind of signs till you get to the trail head The road up there is so washed out, don't try it unless you have a jeep. We didn't go far on the trail itself because it started heading downhill again and it was getting late. We backpacked this trail 20 years ago and it seemed in a lot better condition then....so were we....in a lot better condition. haha

I would like to second what Matt Hodel said (note: he's one of the people responsible for us making it off the trail alive this past weekend). Posts on here indicating that this hike takes less than 6 hours were misleading and nearly got us killed. If Matt and his buddy, Eric, had not been on the trail, the ending would have been very different.

I'm not personally in bad shape (though I could stand to lose 20 lbs), and by "not in bad shape" I mean that I lead a hiking group, do several 7+ mile hikes a month, and did a half marathon a month all last year —but this trail really kicked my backside.

When I read the under 6 review on here (and I'm not disputing that you did it, just saying that's not the norm for this trail), I did the math, and "it checked out" — our group hiking speed is a 24 min mile. But this trail is not your average hiking trail — it's littered with rocks, ankle-turners, almost throughout — I would say that 80% of the trail is being generous. And when you add to that, that the leaves had just fallen and it was drizzling, that's really going to slow you down.

So, based on calculations, we thought we would be off the trail in daylight, in 51° weather. Instead, we were still 2+ miles from the summit, at the most treacherous part of the trail, with one headlamp for every two people.

We had sent our 2 fastest hikers on to the summit with one of the radios, and between that and spotty cellphone connection, we were able to get ahold of rangers and keep warm around Matt & Eric's fire until we were rescued.

We started at 10:30 am, reached the power lines (the mid-way point) around 2:30 pm, where we ate lunch, sunset was approx 4:48 pm (with last light at 5:16 pm), we reached Matt & Eric's camp at 6:40 pm, were able to get through to rangers by 7:45 pm, were rescued at 8:30 pm, and made it back up to the top front country camping area by about 10:30 pm.

The ranger said that it's a 12 hour hike, and the State Park website even posits 14.5 hours, although it also lists the trail as being 14.5 miles.

All this is just to give a cautionary view, so that no one else comes here to find info, and gets in a predicament like we did. It's a beautiful, must-see area — just be wise. This is a point to point trail — once you start, there are no quick exits — you must go all the way to one end or the other.

8 months ago

There are some very impressive reviews of hikers doing this section in under 6 hours. If you want to get someplace fast, drive.

This section of the trail has a duration recommendation of 14.5 hours. (https://mostateparks.com/trails/taum-sauk-mountain-state-park)

I️ think a healthy hiker that stops to enjoy lunch and take in a few views would be closer to 10 hours. If you are not conditioned to rugged hiking, you may use every bit of 14 hours.

We started at the end of the Trace Section where the OT crosses Hwy 21 and hiked the beginning of the Taum Sauk section to the Goggins Mountain Spur Trail (approx 16 miles) and then exited the trail via Goggiins Mtn loop. Major creeks had plenty of water as well as the spring near Padfield Branch Creek. (Located behind an old shed.) There were established campsites near most water sources and at most overlooks. Only saw about 6 other people on the trail. The trail was well-marked and maintained except for downed trees just south of the intersection with Bell Mountain Wilderness loop. Great Hike!

By the way...the route shown with this thread is NOT the Taum Sauk section of the OT.

10 months ago

I was torn between a four and five. Starting at Cades Cove, just past the picnic area. Very easy to navigate. For the first two miles. Or so you have the creek beside you, which I always love. It's great going back down so you can play in it and fill your water bottles. As for the trail, it is a gradual ascent. The very last mile is grueling, but that's all in good fun. I've done a few hikes in the Smokys, and this one is missing one thing-a view along the way. Trees greatly block your view until you're at the very top. So if you're someone who needs a little view for motivation, you might be left unsure if you'll do it again, like me. The view from Rocky Top is inspiring, and you can see all the way to Knox county and a lake! Beautiful. On the way back down you might feel grumbly since the rocks are banging into your feet. Try and make use of that creek like I said! I did the hike with my three boys; one is 11, ones 7, and I packed the 15 month old. So, I'd say it's a family friendly hike. We camped at Cades Cove, and walked over to the trailhead, so I'd say it was a 13 mile hike in total for us. 7 hours exactly from campsite. That included lunch on the mountain and breaks.

10 months ago

This was such a beautiful and fun trail to hike. If you stay up at the top to watch the sunset it is gorgeous! Totally worth it!

10 months ago

The views at the end of the trail are mesmerizing.

Just finished the full trail - actually is about 13.5 miles total. This is a nice trail, but rough! No rain in the area has dried up most of the water sources, especially if you start at Johnson Shut Ins - no water for approx 10 miles, pack smart! Otherwise a wonderful and unforgettable trail!

11 months ago

From Anthony Creek trail to Bote Mountain Trail up the AT to Rocky Top and back took about 6.5 hours including a half hour lunch break at the top. The last part is the steepest.

We lucked out and had a beautiful sunny day with clear skies and no humidity. Views are beautiful and terrain is varied throughout the hike which keeps the sections distinct.

Not an easygoing trail. More tics than I have ever seen.

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