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Smokemont Loop Trail

Intermediate

Trail

3.9 mile 6.3 kilometer point to point
Intermediate

Elevation

Ascent: 1,342' 409 m
Descent: -1,104' -336 m
High: 3,536' 1,078 m
Low: 2,201' 671 m

Grade

Avg Grade: 12% (7°)
Max Grade: 27% (15°)

Dogs

No Dogs
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Trail shared by Ken Wise

A steady climb and descent along an old roadbed through dense, diverse forests.

Ken Wise

Features Fall Colors · River/Creek · Views · Wildflowers

Description

The Smokemont Loop Trail begins at the lower end of the campground on an old concrete bridge over Bradley Fork that once serviced a county road following up the Oconaluftee before the newer Newfound Gap Road was built by the federal government. Beyond the bridge, the trail follows the old county road through weedy clusters of great lobelias, wild golden-glows, Joe-pye-weeds, and black-eyed Susans for 340 yards before leaving the roadbed and turning up to the right on a conventional graded path. The trail climbs only a few yards before intersecting an access path that exits left down the slope to the Bradley Cemetery. The cemetery harbors about fifty graves, most of which are marked by weathered fieldstones.

The climb continues through a pine heath and into a dry-ridge mix of pignut hickories, yellow poplars, and scarlet and chestnut oaks. A noticeably level plot of grass shaded by a grove of eastern hemlock heralds a quarter-mile approach to a ridgeline where the trail switchbacks right to begin a steep descent to Bradley Fork. From the ridgeline, Thomas Divide can be seen ranging along the far side of the Oconaluftee River Valley.

A mile below the switchback, the trail eases into a bottomland that was once cleared for farmland. At a footlog over a feeder stream, the Smokemont Loop Trail turns upstream along Bradley Fork and proceeds 120 yards to cross on a long springy footlog. Twenty-five yards above the footlog, the Smokemont!Loop Trail terminates into the Bradley Fork 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.

Flora & Fauna

Pignut hickories, yellow poplars, scarlet and chestnut oaks, eastern hemlock, great lobelias, wild golden-glows, Joe-pye-weeds, and black-eyed Susans are abundant along the trail.

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Check-Ins

Apr 29, 2019
Lauren Bykowski
Apr 23, 2019
David Short
7mi — 3h 37m
Jun 26, 2018
Stacy R.
May 21, 2018
Lynn H
actually added Bradley Fork back to the parking lot 5.8mi
Apr 25, 2018
Lynn H
included Bradley Fork to Campground 7.1mi
Mar 27, 2018
Jennifer Marquardt
Took my dad to meet the Bradley family at the Bradley Family Cemetery. 2.9mi
Dec 16, 2017
Leigh Anne Roberts
Sep 1, 2017
Zack Harris

Trail Ratings

  4.0 from 3 votes

#4

in Oconaluftee

#8285

Overall
  4.0 from 3 votes
5 Star
33%
4 Star
33%
3 Star
33%
2 Star
0%
1 Star
0%
Trail Rankings

#4

in Oconaluftee

#318

in North Carolina

#8,285

Overall
12 Views Last Month
546 Since Jul 20, 2016
Intermediate

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Photos

Across the Fork to the trail.
Oct 12, 2016 near Cherokee, NC
Bridge across Bradley Fork.
Oct 12, 2016 near Cherokee, NC
The Smokemont Loop Trail serves up a steep climb that adds up to a lot of work for a short trail.
Jun 13, 2017 near Cherokee, NC

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