Little River Trail

EASY 74 reviews

Little River Trail is a 12.3 mile moderately trafficked out and back trail located near Gatlinburg, Tennessee that features a river and is good for all skill levels. The trail offers a number of activity options and is accessible year-round.

DISTANCE
12.3 miles
ELEVATION GAIN
1,213 feet
ROUTE TYPE
Out & Back

kid friendly

backpacking

birding

camping

fishing

hiking

mountain biking

nature trips

trail running

walking

forest

river

views

wild flowers

wildlife

blowdown

bugs

old growth

no dogs

A nice wide flat road that narrows to a true trail as the crowds thin. Plenty of fishing opportunities avaialble up the trail. Backcountry campsites 21 and 24 are generally available year round by reservation.

camping
15 days ago

We backpacked out to campsite 30 for an overnight trip. Trail was very pretty and easy but closer to 7 miles each way. Campsite 30 has A LOT of honey bees buzzing around. Within minutes of putting our bags down, there were probably 10 crawling over them. They are docile and we didn’t get stung at all but expect them to be landing on you and all of your stuff if you stay there. Overall a good trail and trip.

27 days ago

It's an easy hike, but it's a nice one.

1 month ago

Loved the hike. Our favorite was the areas along The Little River. Once away from that area the bugs were horrible and the trails were “closing in”, I assume from lack of use. We stopped on the return and had our lunch and soaked our feet in the river...best part of the day.

2 months ago

I go here by myself at least twice a year just to get in the river after a good sweat.

backpacking
5 months ago

Beautiful Trail. The elevation gain is very gradual.

hiking
11 months ago

This is a great hike; hiked here twice. Saw a black bear and her cub. There is a slight elevation (it is hardly noticeable). Nice scenery.

11 months ago

Loved this hike

camping
Wednesday, March 15, 2017

I hiked this trail on March 13th and camped at campsite 30. The actual distance from the trail head to campsite 30 is 6.8 miles. At campsite 24 begins three river crossings that you will get wet. The one just before campsite 30 you will definitely get wet. I can't speak for campsites 21 and 24. But campsite 30 is hard packed gravel and no place to hang a hammock as far as I could tell. You will definitely need a free standing tent if you choose to camp at this site. The actual trail was easy, with no views except of the river.

hiking
Saturday, November 19, 2016

Little River Trail
Hike Type: Out & Back
Total Distance: 12.87 Miles
Difficulty: Easy/ Moderate (due to distance)

Did this hike on Friday (11/18/16) during one of the worse droughts in the park's history. The water level in the Little River was extremely low. There were still some Fall colors in the trees though.

The trail is about as flat as it can be for being in the mountains. The elevation gain is very gentle, and the trail is well maintained. There are a few blow downs past the intersection with the Goshen Prong trail, but you can easily get around them.

Once the the trail goes by Backcountry Campsite 24, it get a bit hard to find at times. This was mainly due to the amount of leaves on the ground and lack of traffic

hiking
Monday, September 26, 2016

*Facilities at the Elkmont Campgrounds before you reach the parking area*

This trail has it's challenges, but the first half is relatively easy going. Once you reach past the Goshen Prong junction, is when the creek hops will get VERY challenging, and when water is much higher, can be dangerous/treacherous. Cross these creeks, if going to campsite 30, with extreme care!!
The water levels have been very low, due to the fact we've not had much rain...so they were more just boulder/rock hops, than wading pools. But when rains have fallen, and the levels are high, be prepared to get wet.
Also...as of the date that this review was written, there is a VERY large yellow jackets nest, just to the upper right of the camp/fire pit, just off the base of the tree. There were TONS of them....we stayed away to take our break, and we were left alone/not stung. Just be cautious before running around the site, looking for a place to camp, or relax.
The photos I will post will show the levels of the water, at the time of this review.
Other than these few points, the trail was very easy to navigate and hike. Steady, gentle incline, not very strenuous at all. Campsite 24 and 30 look to be very nice spots to lay your head, if you are making a several day hiking trip, or just an overnighter.

Friday, September 02, 2016

Great trail... Fishing was good.

backpacking
Saturday, August 20, 2016

The distance of the trail is longer than the maps or signs indicate. While the sign at the trailhead indicates that it is 3.4 miles to Goshen prong trail at Goshen prong trail The sign indicates that it is 4 miles back to the trailhead. From Goshen prong trail on to campsite 30 the trail gets narrow and steeper. There are several places where crossing the stream can be very treacherous. August was definitely not the time to hike the full distance.

backpacking
Thursday, July 07, 2016

It was amazing love the views that we saw I was able to get into water and it was cold

backpacking
Tuesday, July 05, 2016

Hiked this nice trail yesterday and stayed the night at campsite 24. Overall a nice walk in the woods but if you plan on staying at campsite 24, its over run with honeybees that try to make your pack their own hive

hiking
Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Beautiful. You can make this trail easy or more difficult based on distance. Nice trail. I have seen turkey, a baby ringed neck snake and bear on this trail.

Thursday, May 05, 2016

Lovely hike. Took lots of photos of wildflowers. We want to go back in the fall, its git to be even more gorgeous. The cottages along the way were interesting to see. I do hope they can be restored!

hiking
Monday, April 11, 2016

This was a pretty easy 14 mile hike with a few creek crossings that challenged me to keep my feet dry. The highlights of this hike were the wildflowers, the river pics and a small but exquisite waterfall.

hiking
Monday, March 21, 2016

Easy hike alongside scenic river.

hiking
Wednesday, February 03, 2016

Amazing hike alongside a rapid river. Super easy.

hiking
Sunday, January 10, 2016

This is a great hike for everyone. I have done it many times and will do it many more. Very easy hike. This particular one, we found a warm day in November. Around 60 degress. So we did the full 14 miles round trip to campsite 30. Had one spill in the only water crossing that is iffy. So I had to hike out in wet shoes and socks. Not a problem on this trail Everyone should do this. This is a very popular trail, so there are crowds throughout the year.

hiking
Sunday, November 08, 2015

Wonderful trail. Perfect for the whole family from 10-65!

hiking
Saturday, September 05, 2015

Great hike, good for parents and kids, we swam and saw bears! Great time and worth the drive!

hiking
Friday, May 29, 2015

Did this trail the day after Memorial Day. Very nice trail. Several trails lead off the trail. Beautiful walk in the forest along the stream most all of the way. Has some neat bridges and lots of wildlife. Was supposed to be an active bear on campsite #24 but we did not see it. But we did see a rattlesnake, a deer, and lots of chipmunks. Made for a great day. Rated as moderate and I would say that to be correct.

hiking
Sunday, May 03, 2015

Nice hike among old ruins of the resort days - gradually climbs an old road / rail line. We stayed at the Elkmont Campground, one of the few currently open so far for the season. We tackled a hike close to the campsite, the Little River trail which followed an old gravel railroad bed that runs along side the river. It was as if we were walking in a “fairyland” - moss covered ground, streams, fresh bloomed flowers, and a randomness of purple butterflies fluttering around. Towards the beginning of the trail, we passed some old resort cottages built in the 1920′s. Today, the cottages are in disrepair while the NPS decides what to do with them, but an interesting site to see nonetheless.

hiking
Friday, January 02, 2015

What a great hike, especially if you like a beautiful mountain stream the whole way! Since it's an old railroad bed, it's great for walking side-by-side and talking as you walk. We saw a curious doe about 4.5 miles up the trail at Goshen Prong.

camping
Wednesday, September 17, 2014

pretty easy hike. a campsite was closed due to aggressive bear activity. campsite 21 is great but wood for a fire is scarce. big open area, great for multiple tents and perfect trees for hammocks

hiking
Saturday, May 10, 2014

Very simple trail, good chance of wildlife viewing. Saw 4 whitetail doe's, a few turkey and a small black bear.

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Easy, pretty hike. Runs next to a river the entire way, which makes getting water very simple provided you have a way of purifying it.

hiking
Monday, February 24, 2014

This is an easy hike. The trail is wide, smooth, and well maintained. There are likely to be a few spots that have water seepage after rain, but these are minor and it is simple to get around them.

The trail head for this site is near the Elkmont campground, and there is good parking located adjacent to the trail head. Additional parking is located up the road, and is marked by directional signs. Rest rooms are also close by. They are located near the restored Appalachian Club by the old Elkmont cabins and cottages. The rest rooms are closed in the winter months.

Elkmont was a summer resort community before the Great Smoky Mountains National Park was created. There are several abandoned cabins and cottages at the beginning of the Little River Trail. The Park Service is in the process of saving some of these structures.

Highlights of this trail are the Little River and its many cascades, large boulder clusters, and the small but noisy Huskey Branch Falls. There are several benches along the trail to simply sit and enjoy the sights and sounds of the river. A lot of people come to this trail to meander along the river and enjoy the forest it flows through. This area around this trail was heavily logged, so most of the trees to be seen along it are second growth.

The Little River Trail is a great trail to take people who may have never hiked before. But anyone who loves the outdoors will enjoy it as well.

fishing
Friday, July 05, 2013

This trail is has many options. This trail is a great day hike trail because of the wide nature of the front part of the trail and the relatively easy slope for several miles up the trail. The trail is also used by many fishermen and can be fished from Elkmont campground to campsite 30, 6 miles away. This trail is also great for a three day two night then back home trip if you live less than five hours away. Drive up and hike to campsite 24, 5.2 miles the first night. Loop hike to campsite 21 the next night via Rough Creek Trail to Sugarland Mountain Trail to Huskey Gap Trail. The next day is a short 2.9 back out to the vehicle then back home. I love this trail for the opportunities it affords. Backcountry permits required for camping and must obtain North Carolina or Tennessee trout stamp and fishing license. Fishing is great most of the year except summer. You will be generally be told to climb a little higher for the better fishing and to avoid the "tube" hatch in the summer.

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