Rocky Top Trail

HARD 29 reviews

Rocky Top Trail is a 11.6 mile heavily trafficked out and back trail located near Townsend, Tennessee that features beautiful wild flowers and is rated as difficult. The trail offers a number of activity options and is accessible year-round. Horses are also able to use this trail.

11.6 miles
4389 feet
Out & Back



nature trips

trail running


horseback riding



wild flowers



no dogs

Historic trail leads to Spence Field and 360 degree views This hike will begin on the Lead Cove Trail, which will follow the creek and then turns and follows the ridge. At 1.8 mi you will turn right on Bote Mtn Trail. This trail has been used since the early 1830s and was developed as a road during the 1850s by Cherokee labor. At 3.0 mi the trail intersects with the Anthony Creek Trail and you can see a huge open area, which until the late 1960s you could drive your car here and a short hike to Spence Field. But today you will continue on the Bote Mtn Trail. At 4.7 mi you intersect with the Appalachian Trail turn left and look rising above you is Rocky Top. Take a break and stroll around Spence Field for some nice views as well. It is not as hard of a hike from here as it looks. Over the next mile you will go up and down through some wooded area before you pop out in a rocky bare spot that will offer you 360-degree views. From one spot you can see Fontana Lake, Clingmans Dome, Mt LeConte and Cades Cove. Return via same route.

9 days ago

Great views but tough trail.

1 month ago

1 month ago

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7 months ago

9 months ago

10 months ago

10 months ago

The views are spectacular!!! this is my new favorite Smokey Mountain hike. Horses are also allowed here and I ran into some trail riders on my hike. Also, you'll probably run into some AT hikers, since part of the way up runs along the AT. On the way back down, I saw a baby bear! There wasn't a mother around which slightly terrified me, but I kept my distance and it was alright.

10 months ago

Awesome view of the Smoky Mountains. My son had a blast playing the UT band rendition of "Rocky Top" while standing on the summit.

11 months ago

Wednesday, May 04, 2016

This trail is hard more because of the rocks than the elevation gain/loss. I'd definitely recommend trekking poles! The views from Spence Field are amazing and wonderful! You could stay up there all day!

Monday, January 04, 2016

When you begin the final ascent up the Bote Mountain Trail, you'll notice how deeply the path cuts into the earth - This is a very ancient, ancient trail.

I'm not sure whether the song was named after the place, or if the place was named after the song......but I am sure of one thing: people (with or without fur) have been coming to this place for a very long time.

There's something very Holy up there.....

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Tough climb. Up in 3 down in 2. Appalachian is the best part. No crowds, a big plus for the smokies.

Friday, October 23, 2015

The beginning of this trail is a very, very gradual incline until you reach the Bote Mountain trail. The forest itself is very lovely! Wide, clear paths. However, rocks! Rocks everywhere! Beware that you will have incredibly sore feet by the end of this hike. I know some people like to snuff off trekking poles, but I found them to be very beneficial if you have poor/achy knees like I do. The last mile is the most strenuous.. but not too bad. I've done steeper at longer distances. The view at the summit of Rocky Top is extravagantly beautiful! Very rewarding after the long trek. Also just thought I would note, I walked up behind a fairly large black bear strolling down the trail about 2 miles from the summit. He halted in his tracks and turned to look at me for a few long seconds, then continued to walk casually down the trail for another 30 feet before he darted off in the trees. Seemed generally unamused/unbothered but just a heads up!

Sunday, October 18, 2015

This was the first time I've ever done such a hike (this long, this high, this hard). It was beyond worth it.

The first mile is deceptively flat, and it's only a slight incline until you get to Bote trail, when you really start to go up.

The leaves were just starting to change so we had interesting views even deep inside the forest.

The view from the Spence Field was beautiful, but Rocky Top was worth every sight. We saw maybe 8 people + a massive group of college kids while we were up there, and had fifteen blissful minutes at the top by ourselves.

I would do this hike again and again

The longest hike I've ever done before this was about 8 miles, with only a 600-ft incline (to about 1500 feet). I had to take a few short breaks on the way up (less than 5 minutes each time), and we still did the hike in 6 hours 15 minutes, a flat 8 hours with our stops.

Saturday, October 17, 2015

This was the handle of a large reverse lollipop I did. It is a tough hike getting there but the views are definitely worth it. I was there yesterday and expected a lot of colors, but maybe the weather messed that up. Even without a lot of color, the views are incredible. 360 degrees. You can see Fontana Lake to the south, into North Carolina as far as you can see to the Southeast and as far as you want back to the West and North. I will do this hike every time some one asks me.

Friday, October 16, 2015

Tuesday, September 01, 2015