Doe Knob to Spence Field via Appalachian Trail

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Great Smoky Mountains National Park

Doe Knob to Spence Field via Appalachian Trail is a 31.2 mile lightly trafficked out and back trail located near Townsend, Tennessee that features beautiful wild flowers and is rated as moderate. The trail offers a number of activity options and is accessible year-round. Horses are also able to use this trail.

Distance: 31.2 miles Elevation Gain: 7,493 feet Route Type: Out & Back

kid friendly




horseback riding

nature trips


bird watching




wild flowers



no dogs

Your hike will begin in the back of Cades Cove at the Gregory Ridge Trail.At 1.9 mi you will reach Camp #12 stay to left to follow trail.At 4.9 mi you will intersect with Gregory Bald Trail, take this to the Appalachian Trail.7.0 mi you will reach Doe Knob and the AT.Take a lunch break you have just ascended over 2900'.7.75 Powell Knob is a great area for bear activity. 9.5 is Mollies Ridge Shelter is your destination for day 1.This shelter was rebuilt in June of 2003 and is one of the nicer shelters in the GSMNP Piped spring is located 100yds away. Day 2 continue north on the AT and 11.9 mi you reach Russell Field Shelter.14.5 mi you have completed the AT section of this hike now to Bote Mtn Trail.This trail descends swiftly this would be a great time to practice your switchbacks to help save your shines and thighs. 16 mi you will come to a intersection with the Anthony Creek Trail, follow this trail for 3.5 mi to Cades Cove Campground, then back to the ranger station.

Tue Jun 26 2018

The distances are slightly off from the trail map. From the Gregory Bald Trail/AT junction to Mollies ridge Shelter is 3.1 miles (10.1 miles total). From there to Russell Field Shelter is another 3.3 miles (13.4 total). From Russell Field Shelter to Anthony Creek Trail junction is 3.5 miles (16.9 total). Then Anthony Creek is another 1.6 miles. Following the Anthony Creek Trail back to the Cades Cove Picnic area you come across the horse campground on your left approximately .2 miles from the end. Camp #9, #10, and Russell Field Shelter were all closed on June 22, 2018 for bear activity. Water source at Russell Field wasn't the most enticing. But not many other option along the route between Mollies Ridge and the Anthony Creek Shelter. I also took a trip up to Gregory Bald which is .6 miles of steady climbing up from the Gregory Ridge/Gregory Bald Trail junction. The Azaleas this time of year were beautiful.

Fri Aug 05 2011