Kephart Prong Trail

 2 votes
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Featured Hike

4.1 Miles 6.5 Kilometers



842' 257 m


-841' -256 m


3,576' 1,090 m


2,734' 833 m



Avg Grade (4°)


Max Grade (10°)



A quiet stroll along the Oconaluftee River that showcases the park's CCC and logging history.

David Hitchcock


Closed if Newfound Gap Road (US HWY 441 between Gatlinburg TN - Cherokee NC) is closed due to snow and ice. Newfound Gap Road information can be found at or by calling (865) 436-1200 and dialing extension 2, 2.
This gentle route is one of the most enjoyable shorter hikes in the park. Easily accessible, it is also one of the most family friendly. Along the way, you'll be able to enjoy the history of the park firsthand as you'll pass the remnants of a CCC camp that was constructed in the 1930's. Additionally, this would be a great route used to introduce youngsters to backpacking overnight trips, as the shelter located at the end of the trail makes for an easy stopping point.
Features: River/Creek
Family Friendly: This trail makes for a wonderful option for families with school age children. Kids will love to visit the shelter near the trail's end.
Dogs: No Dogs


From the Oconaluftee Visitor Center near Cherokee, drive 7.3 miles north on Newfound Gap Road to reach the parking area for the Kephart Prong Trail, located on your right, just off the side of the road.

From the Sugarlands Visitor Center near Gatlinburg, you'll drive 21.8 miles south on Newfound Gap Road to reach the trailhead.

Hiking from Newfound Gap Road to the Kephart Prong Shelter, you'll cross the Oconaluftee River several times as you follow the old Champion Fiber Company logging road to the shelter. After 0.2 of a mile, you'll see remains of a Civilian Conservation Corps Camp that was here from 1933-1942. The remains of the CCC include old walls, chimneys, and other artifacts from the camp that housed over 200 members of the CCC during the Great Depression.

After you pass the remains of the camp, the trail continues gently uphill, crossing the river 4 more times until you reach the shelter. The four river crossing are all log footbridges, which make for easy crossing except in snowy/icy conditions.

Once you reach the Kephart Prong Shelter at 2.1 miles, you have several options detailed on the signs at the shelter. You can take the Grassy Branch Trail that climbs to the Dry Sluice Gap Trail, and then onto the Appalachian Trail. Another possibility is to take the Sweat Heifer Creek Trail up to the Appalachian Trail, and then back to Newfound Gap where you can either try to hitch a ride back to your car or have another car parked there so you can get back to your car at the trailhead. Both of these options are more strenuous as they are entirely uphill.


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3.5 from 2 votes

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Feb 26, 2017
Steven Lichti
Feb 20, 2017
Brian Carpenter
from shelter to the road and back 4.1mi
Jul 29, 2016
buddy beavers
nice easy trail me and kailey went and spent the night at shelter — 2h 00m
Jul 6, 2016
Jason Ross
Jul 5, 2016
Jeremy Varo-Haub
Jul 5, 2016
Jason Ross
Went to the third river crossing and had to turn back with kids 1mi
Dec 26, 2015
David Hitchcock
Quiet walk through the woods to the Kephart Shelter, and then we went up the Grassy Branch Trail. 2mi — 1h 00m
Dec 27, 2013
David Hitchcock
Easy hike up to Kephart Shelter with Josh Piercy. River was flowing well, water crossings were easy, and we didn't encounter a single person. 4mi

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  3.5 from 2 votes


in Oconaluftee


  3.5 from 2 votes
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