Rocky Top Trail

HARD 37 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.

DISTANCE
11.6 miles
ELEVATION GAIN
4389 feet
ROUTE TYPE
Out & Back

birding

hiking

nature trips

trail running

walking

horseback riding

forest

views

wild flowers

wildlife

rocky

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.

hiking
7 days ago

hiking
7 days ago

Started this hike at the Cades Cove camping ground and I think took Anthony Creek Trail up to Bote Mountain Trail. One of the toughest day hikes in the Smokies but it easily has the best views of the park when you reach the AT. Also, this trail is unbelievably beautiful during late-June when the wildflowers begin to bloom at the higher elevations. If you are in the park during that time of the year and are willing to do a very strenuous day hike, this is a must do.

hiking
1 month ago

hiking
1 month ago

Be careful on this one. My phone died and all trails couldn't tell me if I was on track. There are quite a few forks in the trail and it is easy to make the wrong decision and get lost. Me and friend ended up getting lost 4 times and ended up in a campsite closed due to bear activity.
I have been on a ton of hikes in the smokies and this is by far the hardest one that I've done. You have to climb two mountain peaks that are the steepest I've climbed. On the way down we got lost again so having to hike back up was brutal. Ended up probably hiking around 15 miles. The vert gain on this hike is seriously no joke. Also, the trail on the way up all looks the same and there really isn't anywhere to stop. Straight up. Make note of certain parts of the trail that are unique so that you don't get lost like we did.
Worth the effort though!!!

hiking
1 month ago

Anthony Creek Trail to Bote Mountain to the AT. It's around 16miles with over 3700k in elevation change both ways. Most stunning views I've seen yet in the Smokies from both Spence Field and Rocky Top well worth the effort in and out. Late spring/early summer the rhododendron are in bloom making it even more unreal!

That said this was hands down the most intense hike I've done in the Smokies. My knees and hips took an absolute beating today coming out, even with trekking poles. Take plenty of water. Once you're off Anthony creek trail there is no water source until Spence Field shelter (which is the opposite direction of Rock Top) and remember to always filter back country water.

2 months ago

2 months ago

hiking
2 months ago

hiking
3 months ago

Great views but tough trail.

backpacking
4 months ago

hiking
4 months ago

hiking
4 months ago

backpacking
5 months ago

8 months ago

hiking
9 months ago

hiking
Friday, August 12, 2016

hiking
Sunday, July 24, 2016

hiking
Monday, July 11, 2016

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.

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

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

hiking
Saturday, June 18, 2016