From the trailhead at the parking lot, the Low Gap Trail eases out on a level course following Cosby Creek upstream, first skirting the lower end of the campground’s outdoor amphitheater before crossing a footlog spanning a small feeder stream. Eventually, the Cosby Nature Trail
exits on the left.
After continuing up Cosby Creek, the trail crosses two footlogs before meeting the upper end of the Cosby Nature Trail
merging in on the left where the Low Gap Trail leaves the stream and begins winding through a hummocky terrain shaded by large eastern hemlocks. A hundred yards beyond the stream crossing, the Low Gap Trail intersects the Lower Mount Cammerer Trail
, turning left to follow it for twenty-five yards before exiting on a narrower track into rough boulder-strewn terrain.
Less than a half-mile above the Lower Mount Cammerer Trail
junction, the Low Gap Trail merges with the Low Gap Trail Access
that originates at the southern end of the campground. A ways up the trail, expect an intersection on the right with the Cosby Horse Trail
that connects the Low Gap Trail with the Snake Den Ridge Trail
Above the intersection with the horse trail, the Low Gap Trail continues as a narrow graded track to a footlog spanning Cosby Creek. Beyond the stream, the trail joins its counterpart from the picnic area. From here, the trail follows closely along Cosby Creek for only a short distance before easing away and resuming a winding course among the boulders where the steepness is somewhat mitigated by a series of switchbacks.
After a while, the trail enters a small cove where it passes a spring that forms the headwaters of Cosby Creek. The trail then angles obliquely across the face of the mountain, climbing almost a half-mile before easing into Low Gap, a deep V-shaped notch in the main Smoky divide. Here, the Low Gap Trail intersects the Appalachian Trail before beginning a 2.5-mile descent into Walnut Bottom on Big Creek.
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
Cove hardwoods yield abruptly to a closed oak association of pignut hickory, red maple, sourwood, black gum, yellow birch, chestnut, and northern and white oak as the trail climbs to Low Gap. Eastern hemlock are abundant along the lower portions of the trail.