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Gregory Ridge Trail - Gregory Bald

The Adventure Guide to Gregory Ridge Trail includes a trail description of the route from Gregory Ridge Trailhead to Gregory Bald, photographs of the route, comments from our hikes, mileage data of the route, the Gregory Bald topo map, and Gregory Ridge Trail tracklog on a geo-pdf map. The guide will familiarize you with the Gregory Ridge Trail and the mountain, Gregory Bald. We hope the guide helps you on your climb.


Date Climbed: 21Mar14

Elevation: 4,949'

Range: Smoky Mountain National Park

Trailhead Parking - Latitude: 35.56240,
Longitude: -83.84590

Route: Gregory Ridge Trail, Gregory Bald Trail to summit

One-Way Mileage: 5.75 - from Gregory Ridge Trailhead to Gregory Bald summit

For Map, Geo-Map, Trail Mileage, and Trail Notes go to Page 2

Pre-Climb Comments

After hiking Gregory Bald from the south (Twentymile Trailhead), we were very interested in the more popular trails that started from the north in the Cades Cove area.

The Route

Directions: Little River Road and Laurel Creek Road junction about a mile south of Townsend (TN). Follow the signs at the junction to Cades Cove (Laurel Creek Road). It is about 7.5 miles to the start of the Cades Cove Loop road. The Loop is one way and traffic moves slowly. Also, check for road closures (ie, Wednesday and Saturday mornings, Loop is bicycles only.) It is 5.50 miles around the Loop to the Visitors Center. Just beyond the Visitors Center the Loop road makes a sharp left turn, go straight on Forge Creek Road for Gregory Ridge Trailhead. Continue on Forge Creek Road. The road ends after 2.2 miles at Gregory Ridge Trailhead. Do not take Parson Branch Rd which turns off Forge Creek Rd.

Registration: There are no registration requirements for day hikes (though hikers should still leave their plans with a reliable contact.) For backcountry camping, reservations (and a fee) are required. For more information contact the Great Smoky Mountain National Park - Backcountry Page - (865) 436-1297 - (hours, 8 to 5 Eastern).

Parking is available at the Trailhead but there are no restrooms or water.

The Trailhead is marked by a trail sign. The trail climbs steeply for a short distance then eases as it follows Forge Creek.

At 0.40 mile from the trailhead the trail crosses to the west side of Forge Creek on a footbridge.

Passing through the rhododendron the trail follows the creek with a gentle grade.

1.85 miles from the trailhead, the trail crosses back to the east side of the creek on another footbridge.

The last crossing does not have a bridge. In low water the crossing was dry.

A short distance after crossing Forge Creek is Forge Creek Campsite - #12. The campsite is 2.00 miles from the trailhead and 3.00 miles below Rich Gap.

Leaving the campsite, the trail climbs more steeply. 0.50 mile from the campsite the trail passes a boulder (Ridge Boulder) as it nears the crest of the ridge.

Once on the ridge, the trail crosses to the west side. The climbing is not overly steep but it is a mountain. 2.00 miles from the campsite the trail passes a hollowed out tree. Shortly after passing the tree the trail crosses to the east side of the ridge. In the winter good views of Forge Knob, Doe Knob, and the Appalachian Trail about two miles distance.

At 5.00 miles from the trailhead, the trail reaches Rich Gap and the junction with Gregory Bald Trail. To the left on the Gregory Bald Trail leads to the east as it rolls 2.00 miles to the Appalachian Trail. A short distance to the east also is the junction with the Long Hungry Ridge Trail. To the right (west) from the junction the trail climbs steeply over a knob and then over to Gregory Bald. A faint trail (unmaintained) crosses the Gregory Bald Trail and leads to Moore Spring.

Leaving Rich Gap, the Gregory Bald Trail climbs steeply over a knoll, then over another knoll to finally reach the base of Gregory Bald. The climb up the Bald is enjoyable.

The Bald is reached after 0.75 mile from Rich Gap. The views are outstanding.

The total distance from the trailhead is 5.75 miles or 11.50 miles round-trip.

For Map, Geo-Map, Trail Mileage, and Trail Notes go to Page 2