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A steady trail with views of the area surrounding the park.

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Point to Point

3,507' 1,069 m


1,976' 602 m


1,531' 467 m


0' 0 m



Avg Grade (7°)


Max Grade (10°)

Dogs No Dogs

Features Fall Colors · Views

Rich Mountain Road is closed in the winter.


To reach the trailhead, you can either take the Rich Mountain Road from Cades Cove to the park boundary at Rich Mountain Gap or access the area through Dry Valley.

The Rich Mountain Trail begins to climb immediately as you make your way up Rich Mountain. You pass through Christmas ferns and pine-oak forests as you trek uphill. At .2 miles, you start moving away from Rich Mountain Road and continue climbing. Once you get .8 miles into your journey, you get views of the western end of the park, even though it is more than likely obstructed. At 1.2 miles you reach the park boundary with some partial views of Dry Valley. As you continue to move uphill, the sounds of Hesse Creek make their way to you as the creek gets closer to the trail. When you get to 1.9 miles, the creek meets the trail and a small cascade below the trail can be seen.

The trail now works its way through a cove as it continues uphill. It works its way back and forth across the creek for .25 miles, with rock hops being necessary to cross the water. The trail reaches the top and dries out when you enter Campsite 5 in a tiny cove on Double Mountain. For people spending the night, there is a small spring located about 100 yards downhill, marked by a trail sign. At this point, you can either return to your car, or go a little further and take the Indian Grave Gap Trail to drop into Cades Cove.

Unlike most trails in the Smokies which start out in cool, moist creek drainages and climb to dry ridge lines, this trail is the exact opposite. The bottom of the trail follows a dry ridge line until you reach 1.9 miles where it intersects the creek, after which the area becomes cool, shaded, and damp.

Flora & Fauna

A wide variety of trees and ferns can be seen along this trail.

Christmas Ferns, black locusts, pines, oaks, devil's walking stick, and sassafras trees are just some of the varieties you will encounter.


Shared By:

David Hitchcock

Trail Ratings

  3.9 from 7 votes


in Cades Cove


  3.9 from 7 votes
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Trail Rankings


in Cades Cove


in North Carolina


8 Views Last Month
2,016 Since Sep 4, 2015



Rich Mountain Road as it comes down to the trailhead from Cades Cove.
Jan 28, 2016 near Wildwood, TN
Even though the trail may be clear and dry at the bottom, snow can be encountered at higher elevations, especially in shaded areas.
Jan 28, 2016 near Wildwood, TN
The trail winding along the ridge line. The trail is fairly narrow the whole way.
Jan 28, 2016 near Wildwood, TN
A view into Townsend area from Rich Mountain Trail.  This is all lies outside the park boundary.
Jan 28, 2016 near Wildwood, TN
Tree blocks the trail, but it's easy to overcome. The trail is narrow past this point.
Jan 28, 2016 near Wildwood, TN
The Smokies from the Rich Mountain Trail.
Jan 28, 2016 near Wildwood, TN



Current Trail Conditions

Minor Issues 56 days ago
Add Your Check-In


May 16, 2020
Jim McGuire
Feb 28, 2020
Mark Weiss
Jan 17, 2020
Brannan Croft
Oct 5, 2019
Brian Carpenter
nice views outside the park 4.6mi
Feb 9, 2019
Trish Turner
Challenging uphill...great views on the winter. 6.6mi
Nov 4, 2018
Jonathan G
Apr 14, 2018
Kevin Bentley
Sep 12, 2017
Hugh Aukerman