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Sunkota Ridge Trail

 4.0 (2)
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Length


8.8 Miles 14.2 Kilometers


2,913' 888 m

Ascent

-532' -162 m

Descent

7%

Avg Grade (4°)

20%

Max Grade (11°)

4,771' 1,454 m

High

2,360' 719 m

Low

Shared By Ken Wise

Conditions


Unknown

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A steady climb along Sunkota Ridge rich with dense hardwood forests and vibrant wildflowers.

Ken Wise

Dogs No Dogs

Features Fall Colors · Views · Wildflowers

Description

The Sunkota Ridge Trail is virtually synonymous with the spine of Sunkota Ridge, a long curved appendage that projects from the western flank of Thomas Divide and separates the Indian Creek drainage from that of lower Deep Creek. The upper end of Sunkota Ridge is anchored to the divide near Newton Bald, and its lower end grades into the bottomland that harbors the confluence of Indian and Deep creeks.

Beginning half-way along the Loop Trail, a short lateral connector between the Deep Creek Trail and the Indian Creek Trail, the trail courses along level grades through a stand of white pine. It then begins to climb, moving out of the pines and into a dry-ridge forest rich with hardwoods.

Sunkota is believed to be a garbled rendition of the Cherokee word for apple, thus insinuating that apple trees once grew on the nearby slopes. If this was the case, the apple trees have long since disappeared.

The trail climbs a moderate grade for three miles and then descends about three-quarters of a mile to Martins Gap, where it intersects the Martins Gap Trail, a three-mile lateral connector between Bryson Place on Deep Creek and the upper terminus of the Indian Creek Trail.

Along the route, there are no readily apparent differences in character or quality as the trail goes on. It is narrow, fairly free of obstructing roots and rocks, and nicely cushioned by layers of leaves and pine needles. The upper section, though, enjoys a somewhat easier grade and affords more opportunities for surveying the adjacent mountain ranges.

As it moves out of Martins Gap, the Sunkota Ridge Trail enters a drier region where the forest cover remains mostly oaks. A gentle grade through a park-like setting shaded by widely spaced spreading oaks heralds the approach to the crest of Thomas Divide, where the trail terminates at the Thomas Divide 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

Several oak species, maple, dogwood, sourwood, sassafras, pignut hickory, and yellow poplar make plenty of shade along the trail. Keep your eyes peeled for galax, trailing arbutus, crested dwarf iris, and rue anemone conspicuously housed among corridors of rhododendron and mountain laurel.

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Your Check-Ins

Check-Ins

Oct 28, 2017
Haley Howerin
5mi
Jul 22, 2017
Dave Emery
Nice trail and well taken care of. I've only done the part from Newton Bald down to Martins Gap. 4.9mi
Jul 16, 2017
Miranda Shipman
May 27, 2017
JC Sabol
hard climb. 2.5mi
Feb 28, 2017
Rick Spragg
Jul 8, 2016
Jeremy Varo-Haub
Jun 1, 2016
EB Moore
8.8mi

Trail Ratings

  4.0 from 2 votes

#4

in Deep Creek

#7422

Overall
  4.0 from 2 votes
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Rankings

#4

in Deep Creek

#279

in North Carolina

#7,422

Overall
27 Views Last Month
581 Since Aug 3, 2016
Intermediate/Difficult Intermediate/Difficult

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