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A climb from the Kephart Shelter to the Dry Sluice Gap Trail.

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Point to Point

5,310' 1,619 m


3,587' 1,093 m


1,735' 529 m


11' 3 m



Avg Grade (7°)


Max Grade (11°)

Dogs No Dogs

Features River/Creek

Closed if Newfound Gap Road (US HWY 441 between Gatlinburg TN - Cherokee NC) is closed due to snow and ice. Newfound Gap Road information can be found at twitter.com/smokiesroadsnps or by calling (865) 436-1200 and dialing extension 2, 2.


From the Oconaluftee Visitor Center near Cherokee, drive 7.3 miles north on Newfound Gap Road to reach the parking area for the Kephart Prong Trail, located on your right, just off the side of the road.

From the Sugarlands Visitor Center near Gatlinburg, you'll drive 21.8 miles south on Newfound Gap Road to reach the trailhead.

After parking at the trailhead, hike the 2.1 miles to the Kephart shelter (along Kephart Prong Trail) where you'll find the trailhead for the Grassy Branch Trail.

As you leave the Kephart Shelter, the ascent begins in earnest as you climb out of the Oconaluftee River drainage and begin skirting the ridges as you climb toward the Dry Sluice Gap Trail junction.

As you hike uphill, you'll eventually come to an old stone wall, where the trail winds a bit. You'll cross several ridges and several creeks as you make your way uphill. Most of the creeks are simple rock hops, unless the water is high after a rainstorm. Small creeks can find their way onto the trail after rain storms, so be prepared for mud if it's been raining recently. Most of the views are obscured as you climb up the mountain, but occasional views of the surrounding peaks will be offered through the trees.

When you get to the eroded part of the trail where the trail is 1-2 feet below the surrounding landscape, you are almost to the end of this trail. The trail is relatively clean, for most of the hike, although more roots and rocks appear once you get into the eroded part of the trail. When you get to the Dry Sluice Gap Trail sign, you have reached the end of this trail and now have several choices. You can return via the trail that you climbed or take one of the trails that intersect Grassy Branch Trail at this point.

Climbing 1.3 miles on the Dry Sluice Gap Trail, you can access the Appalachian Trail near Charlie's Bunion. Going the other way, you can take Dry Sluice Gap to the Bradley Fork Trail, finally ending 7.4 miles downhill at the Smokemont Campground. Both of these require car shuttles, arranged rides, or hitchhiking to get back to your car at the Kephart Prong Trailhead.

Due to its location and limited views, traffic on the trail once your are past the shelter is light. On the right day, you may have this part of the woods all to yourself.


Shared By:

David Hitchcock

Trail Ratings

  3.3 from 3 votes


in Oconaluftee


  3.3 from 3 votes
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Trail Rankings


in Oconaluftee


in North Carolina


7 Views Last Month
1,104 Since Sep 4, 2015
Intermediate/Difficult Intermediate/Difficult



Cold night at Kephart
Jul 30, 2017 near Cherokee, NC
The Kephart Shelter is a fantastic place to lay your head after a long day.
Feb 21, 2017 near Cherokee, NC
Surrounding peaks hiding in the trees as you make your way up the trail.
Jan 20, 2016 near Cherokee, NC
View of the surrounding mountains at the Kephart Shelter.
Jan 20, 2016 near Cherokee, NC
One of the creeks crossing the trail toward the end of the trail. After rain showers, the trail can become wet and muddy as water makes its way downhill.
Jan 20, 2016 near Cherokee, NC
Water running down the trail after a day of rain in the GSMNP.
Jan 20, 2016 near Cherokee, NC



Current Trail Conditions

Add Your Check-In


May 11, 2021
Raghu Vikram
Jun 8, 2017
Brian Reed
Jun 3, 2017
Dave Emery
Completed on the loop to Charles Bunion 2.7mi — 1h 25m
Feb 20, 2017
Brian Carpenter
headed up from Kephart Prong Shelter 2.7mi
Jan 29, 2016
buddy beavers
Dec 26, 2015
David Hitchcock
Hiked this section of trail with Andy Piercy and Steve Larrabee from Kephart Prong to Smokemont. 2.7mi

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