North and South Old Mac Mountain Loop

MODERATE 43 reviews
#3 of 13 trails in

North and South Old Mac Mountain Loop is a 8 mile lightly trafficked loop trail located near Wartburg, Tennessee that features a river and is rated as moderate. The trail offers a number of activity options and is accessible year-round. Dogs are also able to use this trail but must be kept on leash.

DISTANCE
8.0 miles
ELEVATION GAIN
1975 feet
ROUTE TYPE
Loop

dogs on leash

backpacking

birding

camping

hiking

nature trips

trail running

walking

forest

river

views

wild flowers

wildlife

bugs

rocky

To get to Frozen Head State Park. From Harriman take Hwy. 27 North to Wartburg. Turn right (East) on Hwy. 62. Travel 2 miles and turn left on Flat Fork Road. Travel 4 miles to the park entrance. The trail head for North Old Mac is at the first picnic pavilion on the right past the visitor center of the park.

backpacking
12 days ago

We left from the Old Mac trail head parking lot at 1:00 pm and made it to the Tubs Spring campsite around 3:30 pm. We were suppose to stay at the Panther Gap Rockhouse campsite but it was way to muddy. Tub Springs camp is very nice especially with the actual spring being so close, maybe 100 yards. From there it's an easy mile hike to and from the watch tower. We left Tubs Springs in the morning around 10:00 am and made it back by 11:30. We took the North Old Mac trail home which was easy being mostly down hill the entire way.

Either trail you take in (South Old Mac or North Old Mac) its going to be a difficult hike its up hill the entire way. But you are rewarded on the hike back with a gradual down hill for miles. I highly recommend this trail for a fun and short backpacking trip or a long day hike just make sure to bring the water. The water sources were drying up along the trail you so you can only fill up at the begging or end at Tubs Spring.

hiking
2 months ago

Beautiful area and not very populated! We did North Old Mac then The Fire Tower then South Old Mac back to the car. Directions are correct for parking. We will be back to hike the other trails one day! Saw a coyote on the way out too.

Oh, and no martinis allowed on the trails.

hiking
3 months ago

Easy on well marked & maintained trail. This is actually a loop combining North & South Old Mac Trails. South is steeper than North & has rocky sections at the top with tougher footing than North. Not much to see but a nice hike through hardwood forest with the occasional small stream xing &waterfall. Go see the Panther rockhouse & lookout tower. I added Panther Br Tr & Emory Gap Tr. This was 12mi & added nice waterfalls & a pretty stream. Panther Br is moderate as the top section is steep with sections of poor footing, washed out trail & deadfall on trail. All in all a nice hike.

hiking
5 months ago

GPS had the loop at 8-miles including the extra mile up to the tower. Beautiful crisp hike up the north trail and back on the south trail. A light dusting of snow from the previous day but some awesome icicles hanging from the rocks in most of the streams. Elevation gain is very gradual with no steep inclines, Good family hike

7 months ago

very nice trail enjoyable hike

hiking
8 months ago

North Old Mac was a delight today. Good single track tread with plenty of quiet woods. The tower had good views. Coming back down South Old Mac is a lot different—more rocks, more roots, more toe-biters and ankle-grabbers. Tub Spring Campsite is a great place to string up a hammock and rest a bit before heading back down.

camping
9 months ago

took the panther branch trail to Mac, upto the lookout total mileage was 8.4 .pretty much uphill the whole way. was not bad though at all. amazing scenery.worth every step,to top out frozen head.

backpacking
9 months ago

This review is for the overweight and even obese people who may lurk on this app.

I'll begin this by saying I am not a small woman. In fact, just this year I crossed back from being morbidly obese to the higher end of the overweight category.

I read everyone else's reviews, packed my gear, and headed out on a trip for 3 days, and 2 nights.

It wasn't as easy as the reviews say. Not by a long shot. It took me and my boyfriend (also overweight) over 4 hours just to get UP the north trail. Please don't take this as a complaint. Just keep in mind that a majority of the people reviewing this trail are in shape and in hiking condition.

We made it though. We camped two nights at the Panther Gap Rockhouse, wandered around on day two exploring other campsites, including Tubb Springs, and we made it up to the firewatch tower (which was swarming with wasps). It was totally worth it.

On our initial ascent, we huffed, we puffed, but we did it. We didn't see many other people on the trail, but it was layer in the day, raining due to the remnants of hurricane Harvey. There weren't views, but along the way many small creeks, tiny waterfalls, and giant rock formations. To me, it's a journey worth taking just for those things.

The descent took us just less than half of the time it took us to get up. It was super hard on my knees despite using trekking poles. I spent the entire next day at work limping, with leg pain and weakness like the after effects of a hard leg day at the gym.

We plan to lose 30 more pounds by spring and try the trip again. And again.

hiking
10 months ago

Great trail for beginners. Went with my daughter and the grade and difficulty of the trail were well suited for a child, she's 7. There are a number of flat back-county sites for camping and hammocks if that how you roll that aren't too far up the trail. Its easy enough that we are going to use it as a conditioning hike trail. Definitely worth the doing

hiking
Monday, March 06, 2017

By far, the easy way up to the fire tower. Plenty of elevation gain over a longer distance. One overlook and small camp site on the left right before you meet up with Panther Branch Trail. Always enjoy this trail.

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Beautiful area! Frozen Head is know for its dense wildflowers which are highly concentrated within the parks boundaries! Absolutely amazing variety of stunning wildflowers 3 seasons out of the year!

hiking
Thursday, June 02, 2016

North Old Mac is definitely the easiest option to get to the observation tower from thr Old Mac parking area/visitor's center. Its a little bit longer than South Old Mac and not as scenic, but the grades up arent as severe as South Mac or Spicewood and more spread out over the length of the trail. The trail was also in better shape with fewer downed trees/obstacles than the other two as of May 2016. Definitely recommend taking it up to the tower, then going back down South Mac for a low-intensity day hike good for transitioning from beginner to intermediate hikes.

camping
Sunday, May 01, 2016

My first back country camping trip. Had a blast

Sunday, March 27, 2016

Recently went to Frozen head for the first time. Really enjoyed the park, especially the view top of the fire tower. Definitely recommend this trail if it is your first time at frozen head. The trail says moderate but that only because it is mostly uphill on the way to the fire tower.

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Most forgiving of the trails I backpacked throughout Frozen Head. Had taken Chimney Tops to camp at Panther Gap Rockhouse - but not conducive for hammock camping. So I hauled tail along N Old Mac to the campsite. Beautiful spot for a sunset - spur near the Panther Branch junction. Continue past the fire ring, for an even more spectacular overlook. A lot of spots were muddy - despite not having rain for more than a week...

hiking
Thursday, July 23, 2015

I recommend hiking this trail in Spring. The wildflowers are amazing!! I hiked up South Old Mac and to the observation tower and descended North Old Mac. The grade was not as steep as some of the other trails at Frozen Head. It was much easier on my knees.

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Good fun. Nothing exceptional about the hike, but if you're searching for some time in the secluded wilderness then this is a good little day hike. The view from the observation tower is good---wish it rose further above the treetops.

hiking
Monday, September 22, 2014

Hiked up the South Old Mac trail and passed several trail Runners from the Barkley 50k event. Camped at the base of the tower. The views from the tower are worth the trip. Hiked out North old Mac but detoured on Panther Gap and followed it to its trail head. Had my 10 year old with me for the trip and we had a great time.

hiking
Saturday, July 12, 2014

Hiked N. old mac up to the tower and back down S. old mac and did the loop.. Its a steady incline all the way up and steady drop on the way out.. Not much to see on the trail its self but the tower and view was worth the effort. Trail is in decent shape but could use some work in places. Seems not to be getting much foot traffic. Only passed 3 other hikers in 4 hours.

hiking
Friday, March 21, 2014

North Old mac was a very nice trail. Very moderate incline unless you decide to take the 0.5 mile trail to the top where the observation tower is located. There was a great campsite about halfway up located left of a fork in the trail. It was great for hammocking and even had a nice rock face to stand on and check out the view. Not too many chances of scenery on the way up but a good trail nonetheless.

hiking
Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Last weekend My wife and I went up the Tub Spring Campsite at the top of Frozen Head. We started on the Judge Branch Trail then turned right on to the South Mac Trail that took us all the way up to the fire tower. The Judge Branch had a nice campsite off the trail very large with 2 fire circles right next to the creek. The trail itself was a very easy walk next to the creek. You do have a creek crossing that I bet in the early spring could be difficult. The South Mac Trail was nice, you are acceding almost the entire time (1700ft-2900ft) but the view from the fire tower at the top was worth the Hike. We made camp at the Tub Spring camp site. It had 2 very nice tables made by eagle scouts in Oak Ridge and the Tub spring is only 200ft away from the campsite for water. If you are staying overnight in the back-country stop by the visitor's station for a permit, you need one in order to have a campfire and they like to know where you are in the park. I recommend for a good overnight trip.

hiking
Sunday, May 26, 2013

Four of us hiked the N. Old Mac Trail yesterday. We were unimpressed. The trail is narrow, in need of maintenance, (large rocks and ruts) and a steady incline for 3.6 miles. There is little variety in the scenery. However, there are some tulip poplars, that has just bloomed and a few mountain laurel. If you have hiked much in the GSMNP, this hike will be more for exercise than surroundings.

hiking
Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Hiked N. Old Mac to lookout tower atop Frozen Head Mtn and back down the Panther Branch trail to make a loop. Very steep. Rough on the knees, but beautiful!!!!

hiking
Sunday, August 12, 2012

Good hike. Had three kids all under 12. And the dog. We all had fun

hiking
Friday, October 15, 2010

It's been a while since I've hiked this trail. However, it is a wonderful hike indeed. You can couple this hike with the South Old Mac trail to make a nice loop out of the day. Be sure to make the extra couple tenths of a mile trek to the lookout tower. There's plenty to look at along this trail as well and a campsite or two if you want to do an over-nighter. This trail itself is 3.6 one way. It is an out and back trail unless you make it a loop with South Old Mac. Total mileage with South Old Mac and the trip to the lookout tower is approximately 6.9 miles.

hiking
2 months ago

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