“Get two for the price of one: a gentle stream hike and a quiet woods hike.”
— Michelle Kras
River/Creek · Waterfall · Wildflowers
The flat trail along the river is great for families and those who wish to hike but are not able to hike with elevation change.
This loop contains history, a nice hike along a creek, a small waterfall, and then a hike in the woods with some elevation change. The first trail, Little River Trail
, is perfect for families and those wishing to hike on an easy trail that is generally level. Little River Trail
continues onward, where you can choose to keep strolling along the river, but for the loop described here, take a right onto Cucumber Gap Trail
. Cucumber Gap Trail
has more elevation gain, though it's moderate. It is a well-worn singletrack trail. This loop is conveniently located off the Elkmont Campground - campers don't have to drive to this hike!
The trailhead is located near the Elkmont Campgound, though be sure to turn left onto Little River Road before the entrance of Elkmont Campground. The trailhead starts beyond the gate near the parking lot. You'll start on the Little River Trail
. During your hike on this gravel road, which use to be a railroad used for logging, you'll hike along the river, sometimes very closely - keep an eye out for wildflowers in the spring, or reminiscence about the railroad from the past. After about 2.2 miles, you'll pass Husky Branch Falls. This small falls is located right off the trail and flows under the footbridge into Littler River. At about 2.4 miles you'll reached the Cucumber Gap Trail
junction. You should veer right onto Cucumber Gap Trail
at this point, though you can continue down the Little River Trail
as it continues for 4 or 5 more miles.
As you turn right onto Cucumber Gap Trail
, you'll notice that you are now on a well-worn singletrack trail. You'll need to be careful of roots and rocks on the trail, and the sound of the river will soon disappear. You are now taking a quiet hike in the woods. There's more up and down terrain here, but it's a nice contrast to the Little River Trail
. Wildflowers border the trail during the spring and early summer. After 2.4 miles on the Cucumber Gap Trail
, you'll reach Jakes Creek Trail
. Take a right here.
Jakes Creek Trail
is an old gravel road. Take this road for .3 miles, then you'll reach the Jakes Creek Trailhead. From here, continue .5 miles on the road back to the parking lot.
During your hike, you may see dilapidated cabins. Though they are closed off, they are an interesting feature to photograph. These used to be vacation cabins, built before the park was established. Although owners were given the option to lease their property for many years after the park was established, the NPS would not renew leases in 1994. There are plans to restore some structures, but the park will eventually be removing most of them.