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Round Knob to Howard’s Rock (Firescald Ridge)

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Cherokee National Forest

Round Knob to Howard’s Rock (Firescald Ridge) is a 7.1 mile moderately trafficked out and back trail located near Greeneville, Tennessee that features a great forest setting and is rated as moderate. The trail offers a number of activity options and is best used from April until September.

Length 7.1 mi Elevation gain 1,870 ft Route type Out & Back
Backpacking Camping Hiking Nature trips Rock climbing Bird watching Forest Views Rocky Scramble
Waypoints (6)
1
AT junction
36.05196, -82.67167
2
Backcountry camp spot
36.04898, -82.67626
3
Backcountry camp spot
36.04663, -82.68114
4
View
36.04111, -82.68616
5
Trail junction
Unknown / headed straight down and west
36.03966, -82.68752
6
Main View
Memorial Plaque
36.03877, -82.6889
Weather
UV Index
Daylight
Reviews (33)
Photos (213)
Recordings (28)
Completed (57)
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Brad DeWeese
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarNovember 23, 2020
Hiking

Awesome hike! The first half is a significant and steady climb up the fire road, eventually leveling off to a traditional single track running beside the ridge. The last aspect is a scramble over rock face. Highly recommend!!

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Milissa Collins
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Hiking

Most certainly challenging, but I can’t express how worth it this trail was! Visiting Howard’s Rock was phenomenal and the 360 view of the mountains surrounding us? Amazing! We decided to come while Fall is just beginning and it wasn’t a disappointment. The trail itself is very well maintained. I would say at the first clearing, about 2-3 miles before Howard’s Rock is the most difficult with climbing. I would like to say the first half of the trail should be considered moderate and the second half as difficult, BUT it is absolutely doable AND so enjoyable. Definitely a great workout.

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Mark Bender Sr.
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Hiking
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Greg Miller
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Hiking

This is a great hike, with fantastic payoff for the steep ascent start. It bears mentioning that the trailhead has a nice picnic pavilion and privy. The ridge top section of Appalachian Trail is rugged and the views around Howard’s Rock are excellent. It is harder than most “moderate” 7 mile out and backs.

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Reid Smith
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Backpacking

As noted in other reviews, the hike starts on a fire road, so the grade is steeper than you might find on a normal trail. The road is also mainly dirt and small rocks, and the climb on the road accounts for about 3/4 of the vertical climb of the hike. Once on the AT, the trail levels out, and eventually splits between the Exposed Ridgeline trail and the Bad Weather trail. The ridgeline is rocky and technical, although is not too challenging. Progress is slow along the ridgeline, but the view is well worth it, and is almost 360 degrees. Overall, it's a great but slightly challenging day hike, although we turned it into an overnight hike. We went about 3/4 of a mile past Big Firescald Knob to the intersection with the Jerry Miller Trail, and then went another 1/2 mile down to Baxter campsite. This seemed to be the nearest campsite without heading down the trail, as there's no clearings on the ridgeline. As a note, the last 2-3 miles of the road to the parking lot is dirt/gravel with some loose rocks, so try to take an SUV or truck if possible. We saw some cars in the parking lot, but I'd definitely feel better is a bigger vehicle.

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darryl byram
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarGray StarGray StarMay 9, 2020
Hiking

First off, when you get to the parking lot the trail you're looking for is the fire road that is blocked off from cars. There are other trailheads (e.g. Cowbell Hollow) from this parking lot, but this hike isn't labeled. About half of the hike is the fire road, straight up with occasionally switchbacks. Sometimes you get some great views (we hiked this in May), but it's fairly open and has stretches under the sun. At the top of the ridge you're on the AT, and it's an easy hike for most of this section. When you're about 1.5 miles from the end point, the hike turns into a rocky staircase, up and down. This part is pretty with great views on each side.

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Joseph Sauer
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HikingMuddyRockyScramble

A lot of up hill. Don’t be discouraged by the start it is 100% worth it

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Alex S
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HikingMuddy
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Briana Bowden
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Hiking

The trail is rated moderate and this is correct. A great fall hike. We caught the leaves at peak. It gets a little rocky near the end but it is so worth it. I didn't want to leave. Plan to eat your snacks and relax a bit at Howards Rock!

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Jeff Mullins
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HikingRocky

Great hike! Best in the fall to see all the colors. The last 1.5-2 miles is rocky but well worth the views. Happy Hiking!

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Brendan Hanover
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Hiking

Nice trail with some 360 views and not too many people

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Bryan Henderson
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HikingRocky

We only did the first 1.5 miles up and wife had to turn around. I was a good challenge for the first hike of the year (shame on us).

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elizabeth edens
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Hiking

Started from round knob picnic area. first 2 miles, to the AT trail is 90% incline, pretty aggressive uphill. Once at the AT, turn right and at about 1 mile is the split. (some up and down through here.) well marked sign of exposed ridge vs bad weather trail. we went the exposed ridge trail. well marked and well groomed. lots of steps but fabulous hike. agree with others, the scenic overlooks are fabulous! we went all the way through to where trails merge and just came back the same route. the bad weather trail didn't look as well groomed. I think coming down from the AT trail back to the picnic area was the hardest because of the sliding gravel on the road. otherwise, fabulous hike. (toilets at round knob picnic area)

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Emily Ayers
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HikingBugsMuddyRockyScramble

This trail should be renamed uphill knob because that's what it is. There is very little relief of incline. The view from Howard's Rock was very pretty though.

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Sheree Nance
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Beautiful but steeeep. lol. Once you get past the rock climbing it's georgous.

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Emma Koelling
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarMarch 8, 2019
Hiking

It was a difficult hike as almost the entirety of the way out was uphill, with the stretch up to the AT being fairly steep. There was still snow on the ground (March 6) which made it incredibly beautiful. When it splits, the Exposed Ridgeline Trail is a must, the views are worth it all. Great workout and a must for some great views of the mountains!

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Erick Henning
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Hiking
First to Review

Great variety. The hike up round bald road to the AT is steep. A few places with a view but mostly a walk in the woods. On the AT you start out in a forest setting and a little more level ground. As soon as you get to the split in the trail for exposed ridge trail or bad weather trail, take the exposed ridge trail. Your hike will change to a very rocky trail. Climbing up rock stairs and a Little Rock climbing as well. The view along the exposed ridge trail is fantastic and worth the work. I went as far as the point where the two trails come back together and headed back on the bad weather trail. It’s a level walk in the forest wit no view off the mountain. All in it made the hike 10 miles instead of 7 as stated. See my recording. A very good work out and a great variety of hiking surfaces. The road up to round bald cut down from two lane asphalt to a one lane rock road near the start of the trail.

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Danielle Hawkins
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Hiking
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Jeff Mullins
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Hiking
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Sandra Wilson
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Hiking
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Kelsi Cummins
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Hiking
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Jerry King II
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Hiking
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B C
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Jeff Mullins
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Hiking
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Nadav Lapidot
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Hiking
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