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Old Settlers Trail

Difficult
 2.5 (6)

A historic trail that once was home to hundreds of families in the late 1800s and early 1900s.


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Map Key

15.9

Miles

25.6

KM

Point to Point

2,680' 817 m

High

1,411' 430 m

Low

3,529' 1,076 m

Up

2,803' 854 m

Down

8%

Avg Grade (4°)

32%

Max Grade (18°)

Dogs No Dogs

Features Birding · Fall Colors · River/Creek · Spring · Wildflowers · Wildlife

All campsites must be registered with the Great Smoky Mountain National Park.

The Great Smoky Mountain National Park also closes secondary roads on a seasonal schedule due to snow. Schedules can be found here.

Backcountry rules and regulations can be found here.

Description

This is a really cool trail because parts of it were home to hundreds of families in the late 1800s and early 1900s. This will become abundantly clear along the trail as hikers will come across a large number of old homesteads and former settlements. Both parking and the trailhead are located on Ramsey Prong Road. There is an abundance of creeks and stream crossings along this trail, so hikers need not worry about running short on water. Just be sure to clean/purify the water before drinking it!

The trail begins in what was once a community settlement known as Greenbrier, but most of the homesteads have been removed. It follows the little Pigeon River before splitting off towards Little Bird Branch. About a half-mile in is the Parton Homestead, which housed the ancestors of the famous country music singer and song-writer, Dolly Parton. The family cemetery is still there, near Little Bird Branch.

The trail then climbs what is known as the Copeland Divide, before dipping back down and following a series of creeks and stream crossings. About 6 miles into the hike is Campsite #33, Settlers Camp. There's Redwine Creek nearby for easy water access. The trail then proceeds past Ramsey Creek (same relation to the family the Ramsey Cascades were named after) and then Noisy Creek.

The trail continues to wind along until it reaches Texas Creek, which hikers will have to cross at a little over 10.5 miles into the trail. There are a couple of small waterfalls here which offer a nice place to take a break. Here, hikers will see the remains of even more cabins. The trail will then follow Webb Creek, and will come across another series of homesteads at about 13 miles into the trail.

From there, hikers will follow a ridge along Snag Mountain before crossing Dunn Creek and Maddron Creek. There are a lot of water crossings on this trail! It finally comes to an end at Maddron Bald Trail. From there, hikers can go straight on Gabes Mountain Trail, left on Maddron Bald Trail towards the trailhead near Highway 321 or right towards Maddron Bald.

Flora & Fauna

The Smokies are home to more than 1,600 species of plants, most of which produce an abundance of flowers in the spring. These species include mountain laurel, rhododendron, azalea, and many others. Spring wildflowers peak from early April through late May. To learn more about the plants of the Smokies and even get a trees and shrubs checklist, visit the park's website.

As for local fauna, black bears are common in the area, along with white-tailed deer and 31 species of salamanders.

Birdwatchers can spot a variety of species, notably the northern flicker (Colaptes auratus) and red-eyed vireo (Vireo olivaceus).

For more information on black bears, refer to this webpage.

Contacts

Shared By:

Max Willner

Trail Ratings

  2.5 from 6 votes

#6

in Greenbrier

#35424

Overall
  2.5 from 6 votes
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Trail Rankings

#6

in Greenbrier

#697

in North Carolina

#35,424

Overall
104 Views Last Month
2,641 Since Sep 4, 2015
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Photos

Approaching a meadow on a sunny evening along the Old Settlers Trail, roughly 5 miles from the Greenbrier Cove trailhead
Apr 14, 2019 near Gatlinburg, TN
OST about 4.5 miles from the Greenbrier Cove trailhead
Apr 14, 2019 near Gatlinburg, TN
The defining feature of the Old Settlers Trail is the abundance of stone walls and chimneys evincing the homesteads that once populated the area. There are multiple such stretches as pictured here, where the trail is basically walled in.
Apr 14, 2019 near Gatlinburg, TN
Little Pigeon River.
May 17, 2016 near Gatlinburg, TN

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Check-Ins

Mar 10, 2020
Thomas Mcadorey
just exploring a bit. 5mi — 11h 00m
Jul 12, 2019
Morgan B
Many downed trees. Significant amounts of poison ivy. Trail impassable and not marked at ridge just before designated campsite due to tree fall. 9.9mi — 10h 00m
Nov 4, 2018
Wade myers
Mar 25, 2018
Brian Carpenter
a little tougher than it looks. tons of creek crossings, but just as many old fireplaces and rock walls 15.9mi
Jun 10, 2017
Jerry Willis
Poison Ivy everywhere. Campsite rocky with very limited choices.
Mar 29, 2017
Chadwick Conner
15.9mi
Oct 17, 2014
Tommy Scalf
Beautiful, easy historic hike! Tons of old walls and homesites.