The Cooper Road Trail begins at the upper end of Abrams Creek Campground and follows a smooth, gravel track through an attractive corridor of tall white pines. Soon, the trail clears a low rise over a sweeping bend in Abrams Creek. Above the campground, a feeder stream seeking Kingfisher Creek may entail a wet crossing, but even when rock-hopping is not feasible, the crossing is never difficult.
Slightly less than a mile above Abrams Creek Campground, the Cooper Road Trail intersects the Little Bottoms Trail
on the right before entering the Cooper Road Backcountry Campsite (#1).
When it leaves the campsite, the trail retains its character as a rough wagon road, wide and rutted, passing through occasional muddy puddles. Beyond the campsite, it reaches Gold Mine Gap, where it intersects the eastern terminus of the Gold Mine Trail
Beyond Gold Mine Gap, the Cooper Road Trail descends to Cane Gap before turning sharply right and climbing steadily to the crest of Hatcher Mountain. The road course here is dry and sandy, heavily eroded, and often encumbered with roots and rocks.
When the Cooper Road Trail reaches the crest of Hatcher Mountain, it enters a crossroads that marks the intersection of Cooper Road with the Hatcher Mountain Trail
and the Beard Cane Trail
before descending steadily on a rough, rocky course to a stream crossing. The steepness moderates, and the roughness subsides as the trail proceeds to the coolness of a shaded hollow where it immediately crosses a tributary of Wilson Branch. Farther along, the trail completes a messy crossing of Wilson Branch and then turns and proceeds up the hollow following the course of a small feeder stream.
At the head of the draw, the trail crosses the feeder and enters into a steep climb to the crest of Stony Ridge. Upon clearing Stony Ridge, the trail descends to an easy crossing of Stony Branch and then turns and starts into a climb to the crest of Arbutus Ridge. As it eases onto the ridge, the trail turns sharply back to the left to follow the ridgeline briefly before dropping off for a steep descent into the Arbutus Branch drainage. Here, the course winds considerably on a track that is wide, smooth, and shaded by pines before ending at a tributary of Arbutus Branch.
Crossing Arbutus Branch on a concrete causeway, the trail proceeds downstream for a short distance, approaching Cades Cove before intersecting the upper terminus of the Wet Bottom Trail
just before the trail’s end.
This content was contributed by author Ken Wise. For a comprehensive hiking guide to the Great Smoky Mountains and to see more by Ken, click here
Eastern hemlock, red maple, Fraser magnolia, pine, and American holly are abundant along the trail.