DISTANCE
14.9 miles
ELEVATION GAIN
3,841 feet
ROUTE TYPE
Out & Back

wheelchair friendly

birding

hiking

nature trips

trail running

walking

forest

river

views

wild flowers

wildlife

blowdown

bugs

muddy

old growth

rocky

scramble

no dogs

hiking
3 months ago

Okay, lets first start by saying there are a number of inconsistencies in the tags and descriptions on this listing. First off, hopefully no one believes that all 14.9 miles is wheelchair accessible. That said, the last 1/4mile or so up the observation tower is probably wheelchair accessible. Also, it's worth noting that if you drive up to the visitor's center and then walk the 1/2mile to the top (separate listing on this site), there is a sign that says it's NOT ADA compliant (due to steepness), so keep that in mind. It's a hard go even when you're not pushing a wheelchair up it!

Secondly, it states it features a river, but I guess they're just referencing the river that the road follows on your drive into GSMNP from Cherokee, NC. There is no river feature on the actual trail.

As for the trail itself, it's a pretty typical S. Appalachian trail...navigating rocks and roots are all part of the game. Well-marked and easy to navigate. If you're day-hiking this one, I suggest cutting off 3.4miles (RT) by starting at the Indian Gap Road/Road Prong Trail Trailhead. You'll miss the Beech Tree Extainment area, which is really just a fenced area with some pretty trees, and some superfluous up-and-down hills. Which, by the way are not really that bad as other users suggest. It gives your knees and legs a break from doing the SAME thing for 8 miles up and then a DIFFERENT thing for 8 miles down.