If you are headed to Cades Cove, at .2 miles from the Townsend "Y," turn left onto Tremont Road and follow the road for 2 miles. The trailhead is on the right, before the entrance to Tremont Institute. The trail is right behind the pump house at the top of the hill.
The trail starts climbing and comes to a fork, where you can follow the trail to the left or take a right to visit a maintained cemetery where many of the families in the area were buried. You'll notice a high number of children buried here, which speaks to the high infant mortality rate in the 1800s and early 1900s. Family names you'll see in the cemetery are Moore, Stinnett, Carlyle, Cook, and McCarter. These families lived in the Tremont area, making a life for themselves living off the land. Once you have looked around, you can go back the way you came to pick up the trail or take a rough path through the woods to rejoin the West Prong a little further up the trail. If you go back to the trail, you'll work your way up the trail and at roughly .25 miles, you'll see a hog trap off to the right, which is used to capture wild boar, an invasive, non-native species that destroys vegetation and native animals.
As the trail climbs Fodderstack Mountain, the West Prong can be heard below the trail and views through the open woods provide opportunities to take in the surrounding hills and creek valleys.
After climbing for about a mile, the trail begins a mile long descent to West Prong where wildflowers can be seen in wet areas beside the trail. An easy rock hop over a side creek leads you to Campsite 18 at mile 2.1. There are several campsites on both sides of the stream for people who want to camp overnight. Once you pass the campsite and cross a foot log, the trail goes to the right and starts climbing again. While not steep, it doesn't level off for the rest of the trail. At 2.7 miles, you reach the Bote Mountain Trail
and the end of the West Prong Trail.
You have several options when you get to the junction. You can go back the way you came, or take the Bote Mountain Trail
to the right where you end up on Laurel Creek Road. If you continue straight on the Bote Mountain Trail
, you'll eventually wind up on the Appalachian Trail at Spence Field
West Prong also acts as a connector between the Elkmont-Tremont trails and the Cades Cove trails.
Wild Boar have been seen in this area as evidenced by the trap off to the side of the trail. Deer, bear, and other animals commonly seen in the smokies can be seen throughout the area.
Wildflowers can be seen in the spring in the wet areas along the side of the trail. Rhododendron bloom in early summer, and other trees like tuliptree, maples, and chestnuts are seen all along the way.