“A short trail leading from a gravel service road directly to Mt. Sterling.
— Max Willner
Birding · Fall Colors · Spring · Wildflowers
Reservations must be made for backcountry campsites. For more information, the GSMNP backcountry office can be contacted at (865) 436-1297 between the hours of 8 and 5 Eastern Time. Backcountry permits can be purchased online
There's a fairly long gravel road that leads from the Big Creek Ranger Station southbound towards the Cataloochee Campground. Just about halfway along the gravel road is the trailhead for Mount Sterling Trail. It connects to Mount Sterling Ridge Trail
and ascends to the summit.
About a third of the way in from the gravel service road is Long Bunk Trail
, which heads south and connects to Little Cataloochee Trail
Flora & Fauna
Flowering plants bloom between March and July. In the fall, leaves begin to change color around September and continue through November. Two of the most common trees in this area are the mountain laurels (Kalmia latinfolia) and umbrella magnolias (Magnolia tripetala). The flame azaleas atop Gregory Bald are especially beautiful, and can be found in full bloom from mid- to late June.
As for local fauna, black bears are common in the area, along with white-tailed deer and 31 species of salamanders.
For more information on black bears in the Smokies, refer to this webpage
Birdwatchers can spot a variety of species, notably the northern flicker (Colaptes auratus) and red-eyed vireo (Vireo olivaceus).