Gabes Mountain Trail begins across from the Cosby Picnic Pavilion. The trail proceeds for 550 yards before being joined by the Gabes Mountain Trail Campground Connector
Soon, three footlog crossings lead over Rock Creek, Crying Creek, and the main stream. A quarter-mile beyond the Crying Creek crossing, the trail exits the upper end of an old turnaround before climbing for about a half-mile to clear a small gap at the back of Bearneck Cove. Ten feet to the right of the gap is the lone grave of Sallie Sutton.
From the Sutton gravesite, the Gabes Mountain Trail climbs about 600 yards to pass through Bearneck Gap and then begins descending on a wide, smooth track lined with rhododendron and well cushioned with layers of deciduous leaves. The flanking terrain soon becomes more rugged with cliffs and outcroppings forming up on either side. Slightly less than a half-mile beyond Bearneck Gap, the trail intersects an exceedingly steep access trail that exits to the right to the base of Hen Wallow Falls
. Hen Wallow Falls
is formed as Lower Falling Creek descends in a long picturesque waterslide.
Three hundred and fifty yards above the access path to Hen Wallow Falls
, the trail enters a sharp switchback to the left that affords a fine vantage point. From the switchback, the trail climbs a quarter-mile to enter a narrow cove. The trail winds through rhododendron, and makes two stream crossing within an interval of 515 yards. Just above the second crossing, the trail passes through a slight gap to leave the Lower Falling Creek watershed and begin circumnavigating the base of Gabes Mountain.
A short interval of level grade precedes a one-mile winding descent to Greenbrier Creek. Over this interval, the trail probes into several recesses and engages a few streams which can be difficult to cross - Greenbrier Creek in particular. Immediately beyond is Backcountry Camp 34, Sugar Cove.
After the campsite, the trail climbs out of the Greenbrier Creek drainage and into a long steady descent. Except for the occasional recesses between finger ridges, the descent precedes briskly.
First, the trail crosses Buckeye Creek. Cole Creek is crossed and then crossed again eighty yards downstream. Five hundred and fifty-five yards past the second crossing of Cole Creek, the trail crosses Maddron Creek, then eases onto a moderate grade for a half-mile approach to its terminus in a wide crossroads intersection with the Maddron Bald Trail
and Old Settlers Trail
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
This hike is heavily surrounded by rhododendron. Tall, slender yellow poplars can be found in fields along the way.