Scott Mountain Trail
ElevationAscent: 266' 81 m
Descent: -1,505' -459 m
High: 3,315' 1,010 m
Low: 2,027' 618 m
GradeAvg Grade: 9% (5°)
Max Grade: 26% (14°)
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“A quiet, solitary journey along the park boundary.”— David Hitchcock
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.
As you depart the Crooked Arm Ridge Trail/ Indian Grave Gap Trail junction, you'll pass under the old power lines that brought power into Cades Cove as well as some rhododendron tangles that provide relief from the sun on hot summer days. You'll encounter Campsite #6, which is good if you get a late start. The trail goes by a small spring that provides water for the camp, and then continues through the woods. Like most forests in the park, this area was harvested in the early 1900s before becoming part of the National Park. You'll find newer trees growing in this area as the forest continues to recover from the logging efforts. The trail continues downhill until you start nearing the park boundary. At this point, the trail narrows and begins to ascend for a little bit. Erosion in this area can make it tricky to navigate, so make sure you are paying attention.
Once the trail starts to descend again around .8 miles, you move through a rhododendron jungle as it thins in favor of ferns and mosses. You need to rock hop a small spring, and then the trail begins to switchback as you move away from the ridgeline. The trail is all descent from this point until about mile marker 2.7. The trail will pass Whiteoak Sink between 2.5 and 2.75 miles and a famous cave called the "blow hole." Due to White Nose Syndrome, a disease that infects bats, the cave is closed to humans.
The trail begins to rise as you encounter the park boundary, which you follow for the final .5 miles to the junction with the Schoolhouse Gap Trail. You'll pass several cottages or homes that lie just outside the park boundary, a reminder of what the park would be like today if it wasn't protected. Finally, after 3.5 miles, you have reached the end of the trail.
You can return via the path you came, or you can take Schoolhouse Gap Trail back to Laurel Creek Road and catch a ride from there. You can also follow Schoolhouse Gap Trail until it reaches Chestnut Top Trail, and take that all the way to the Townsend "Y" where you can also be picked up.
There are various ferns, mosses, and berry bushes along the trail, but there aren't as many wildflowers as some of the other trails in the area.
Bats are famous for making their home at Whiteoak Sink, but don't go in the cave as it might expose the bats there to White Nose Syndrome. Other animals might be seen along the trail.
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Land Manager: NPS - Great Smoky Mountains National Park