Explore the most popular birding trails near Townsend with hand-curated trail maps and driving directions as well as detailed reviews and photos from hikers, campers and nature lovers like you.

My first hike I loved it

This was a great trail! Wasn't too long of a hike...and the Falls were amazing!

3 days ago

I need to go back and ride my bike early morning. I went during the afternoon and didn’t see any wildlife.

Amazing!!! Love it every time.

Nice hike with a pretty waterfall and great spot to swim at the end. We saw a bear on this trail!

Great trail. We made the same mistake lots of people make. If you start at the falls, when you get to the spot on the light red line where it looks like you go forward then backtrack, don’t go forward. Look for the spot just ahead of you to the left to go down the hill and cross the stream (the light red line on the map that looks like a back track IS a backtrack from people missing the stream crossing). From there on the path is fairly clear. If you think you missed the turn and you start getting into bushes with thorns, then you did go too far.


Great trail. We went on the 4th of July early and it was fantastic. The trailhead parking lot was a little crowded, but we never really saw anyone on the trail. Easy hike for our crew of 9 (kids were ages 6 to 14),though a little long to get to the waterfall. So glad we did though...we waded in the water and relaxed, making for a quick trip back down. Beautiful the entire way, quiet and peaceful...and lots of river distractions for the kids. Bonus was how nice and cool the hike is along the river. We were never too hot, even though the temps were in the 90's that day. Super happy!

Nice walk in the woods. Was hoping for views that other people reviewed but they must only be in the winter and fall. Saw an elk and lots of cool Fungi.

16 days ago

Nice waterfall. Rocky and narrow trail. Short hike with good ending waterfall. Took about an hour.

great, quiet hike to a gorgeous falls and swimming pool.

16 days ago

ATTENTION: If you take the Lead Cove trail you will see bears guaranteed. They are harmless but on the way back down I walked within 5 feet of one in a laurel thicket before we noticed each other. Be aware of your surroundings

This is a great hike for multiple reasons. Before I explain why it’s important to know there are multiple ways to eventually reach Rocky Top. The description on here will take up the Lead Cove trail which is the route I took. The other way which people have reviewed on here is to start on the Anthony Creek trail near Cades Cove. Both are lightly traveled compared to most trails in the Smokies, but Lead Cove trail is less traveled.

The first time I tried to complete this trail was a late evening hike in which I walked up on a momma bear and cub. They were no threat, but they would only walk away not run... and stayed on the trail. They slowed me down so much that I had to hike back down as I was not going to make it to the summit before dark.

I completed it finally this week. I saw 0 people the first 3 miles up lead cove to Bote Mountain trail. I met one person at the Anthony Creek trail intersection. The hike has a gradual elevation gain all the way from the Trailhead to the AT. This portion is not difficult at all if you do any hiking at all. Once on the AT the climb to Rocky Top is constantly steep and moderately strenuous. There are 360 views at the top which includes views of Fontana Lake and Dam.

This hike is great for avid hikers who actually enjoy hiking and not taking essentially a group walk through the woods with tons of people.

road biking
18 days ago

An easy ride on a paved loop. Rent bikes at the Cade Cove Campground $7.50 per hr. The deer and bears are out in the morning. Start the ride early, the bike shop opens at 6:30am. The loop road is closed on Wednesdays and Saturdays from 6:30am to 10:00 am to vehicle traffic, but open to foot and bike traffic.

More than 2 hours, started to get crowded coming out but very pretty!

Fun hike

on Abrams Falls Trail

18 days ago

We went early on a weekday last week and it was not too crowded. This hike has many different views and never disappoints. We got to see a mama bear with 3 cubs and it was an amazing experience. This is one of my favorite hikes.

It’s a great little hike to an awesome place but use caution if you have small children. I took my kids on this hike because it was a short hike but it was extremely rocky and for a child it should be rated as difficult .

We hike this trail when we visit every year and love it.

20 days ago

Hike was great. 5 miles round trip total from the parking area. We walked at a good pace and took about 2 hours (not including time at the falls). The trail and falls were very crowded even though we arrived early in the day.

I did this trail for the first time today with my 4 kids and we all loved it! Their ages are 5, 7, 12, and 15 and we got through with no issues and I didn’t have to carry the littlest at all. It was a grand adventure navigating all the rocks and roots and slick spots. We were all grateful that we had our hiking boots on, as we felt more sure footed in them. I’m not in the best shape and I considered this fairly strenuous at times but so worth it. The falls are stunning! You can pretty easily climb across the rocks right up to the falls, and it’s just a little slice of paradise. It wasn’t crowded at all when we went (Monday morning - July 2). Only saw a few other people. Highly recommended. And make sure you get your feet wet at the falls. It feels great!

This trail is very special to me. I was never into hiking before because of my job that consisted of long hours of walking. I went with someone that was special in my life and in that moment something happened. It triggered a missing piece in my empty soul that to this day gives me goosebumps thinking about. Not only did it have amazing lookout points along the trail but had a beautiful waterfall at the end. Now I'm constantly hiking and looking for my next hiker "high" all because of this one trail. I highly recommend it.

on Abrams Falls Trail

22 days ago

What a beautiful hike! My 9 year old loved it. Lots of rocks on the trail and up & down. We took rain gear just in case and I’m glad we did because it really poured for about 15 minutes on our way in. The rest of the hike was slick but still doable. The falls were really worth it. It’s our favorite hike and he has already said he wants to do it again. It’s a long hike so have water with you.

23 days ago

Great Trail! Get there early to beat the crowd. Took about 2 hours to complete.

on Abrams Falls Trail

25 days ago

Great trail. Took 2.5 hours to complete round trip in and out.

The distances are slightly off from the trail map. From the Gregory Bald Trail/AT junction to Mollies ridge Shelter is 3.1 miles (10.1 miles total). From there to Russell Field Shelter is another 3.3 miles (13.4 total). From Russell Field Shelter to Anthony Creek Trail junction is 3.5 miles (16.9 total). Then Anthony Creek is another 1.6 miles. Following the Anthony Creek Trail back to the Cades Cove Picnic area you come across the horse campground on your left approximately .2 miles from the end. Camp #9, #10, and Russell Field Shelter were all closed on June 22, 2018 for bear activity.

Water source at Russell Field wasn't the most enticing. But not many other option along the route between Mollies Ridge and the Anthony Creek Shelter.

I also took a trip up to Gregory Bald which is .6 miles of steady climbing up from the Gregory Ridge/Gregory Bald Trail junction. The Azaleas this time of year were beautiful.

26 days ago

Between Townsend and Cades Coves, I enjoyed the trail. Steady incline up but not bad. Would have never known about Campsite 18 had it not been for two other hikers who said it was a must see. The campsite was the highlight of the hike for me. Very close to the trailhead for the Schoolhouse Gap Trail if you want a two for one.

We really enjoyed this hike away from the crowds at Cades Cove. It is certainly the trail less traveled. We came across a good bit of wildlife, including mother bear and cubs, deer, wild turkeys, and frogs. The wild flowers were nice and in some spots there are great long range views. This hike is pretty strenuous and you’ll want to be sure to take plenty of water if you hike in summer.

scenic driving
28 days ago

Favorite part of my trip! Get here early, lots of traffic but views are fantastic!

scenic driving
28 days ago

This always gets high reviews but both times I've gone I was underwhelmed. Also, people stop for everything and once you are in loop it is hard to get back out if you don't want to wait.

We enjoyed this hike today, but it was pretty busy at the falls. It’s a nice up and down trail with a nice waterfall reward at the end that was easy after hiking out in Boulder at much higher altitudes. We ran into one large group after we just arrived at the waterfall, and another one was coming on our hike out. It was easy for our 8 year old but like at all waterfalls be careful with the wet and slippery rocks. .

29 days ago

Great out and back trail with a beautiful waterfall! They advertise at the park that it is 2.5 miles each way but it is more than that.

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