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greenBlue Indian Grave Gap Trail


3.8 mile 6.0 kilometer point to point


Ascent: 1,152' 351 m
Descent: -352' -107 m
High: 3,652' 1,113 m
Low: 2,529' 771 m


Avg Grade: 8% (4°)
Max Grade: 19% (11°)


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Trail shared by David Hitchcock

Hike along an old service road that provides views of Cades Cove, Townsend, and Dry Valley.

David Hitchcock

Features Fall Colors · Views · Wildflowers

Rich Mountain Road is closed in the winter.

Closed when the Laurel Creek Road is closed from the Townsend Y to Cades Cove. For park road conditions, information can be found at twitter.com/smokiesroadsnps or by calling (865) 436-1200 and dialing extension 2, 2.


The trailhead is located on the Rich Mountain Road, 2.2 miles from the Cades Cove Loop Road. It's closed in the winter, so this is a Spring- Fall trail for most people. The trail is accessible via the Crooked Arm Ridge Trail or the Rich Mountain Loop Trail from Cades Cove in the winter, so it can be a winter outing if you want to continue a little farther.

The trail begins climbing up the flank of the mountain as it leaves Rich Mountain Road. The trail is wide in this portion because it was used by the power company to service power lines going into Cades Cove. At mile .6, the trail goes through Indian Grave Gap and you pass an old road that may have been the old Rich Mountain Road that the settlers used.

From there, the trail climbs more steeply (1000 feet in a mile) as the pine forest transforms into a hardwood forest with oaks, maples, silverbells, and other trees. Near the top of Tater Ridge at mile 1.1, the trail intersects with the Rich Mountain Loop Trail. There's a great view of Cades Cove near here, so take the extra time to appreciate the scenery.

The trail turns left and continues to climb through an area known for its wildflowers toward the Rich Mountain Trail at mile 1.9. Campsite #5 is located about 100 yards down the trail on the left. The trail goes straight for another .3 miles before arriving at Cerulean Knob, where a small spur trail leads to the highest point on Rich Mountain. In the small opening, cement blocks that were once the foundation of the old Rich Mountain Fire Tower remain. The main trail continues east rolling up and down for another 1.5 miles with wildflowers lining the trail. Views of Dry Valley and Townsend, both of which lie outside the park, are offered on the left hand side while obstructed views of Cades Cove are off on the right. The trail follows the park boundary at this point until it reaches mile 3.0, where the trail drops deeper into the park. At mile 3.7, the trail arrives at a three trail junction.

The Crooked Arm Ridge Trail continues straight before it descends into Cades Cove. You can take this trail to meet up with the Rich Mountain Loop Trail to make your way back to your car. To the left is Scott Mountain Trail, which continues to skirt the park boundary all the way to Schoolhouse Gap.

Flora & Fauna

Flame azaleas, mushrooms, galax, rhododendron, and other wildflowers can be found throughout the trail.

Deer, bear, and other mammals have been seen throughout the area. Wild hog traps can be seen along the trail, which speaks to the presence of the invasive species in the area.

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Mar 18, 2019
Kenny Martin
From Rich Mountain Loop Trail to Crooked Arm 2.6mi
Jul 7, 2018
John Keoni Cappiello
I out and backed hiked 1.1 miles. 4.9mi
Nov 4, 2017
Deana J
Oct 20, 2017
Greg McClurg
Jun 29, 2017
Ethan Patterson
Apr 15, 2017
Brian Faul
Did not cover the whole trail, just the part that connects Rich Mountain Loop and Crooked Arm Ridge Trail. 1.8mi
Mar 25, 2017
buddy beavers
me and kailey hiked pieces of it on loop hike
Oct 26, 2016
Peter Scott
Rich Mountain Loop - Indian Grave Gap Segment

Trail Ratings

  2.7 from 3 votes


in Cades Cove


  2.7 from 3 votes
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in Cades Cove


in North Carolina


30 Views Last Month
1,449 Since Sep 4, 2015
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