Elkmont Loop

Great Smoky Mountains National Park

An epic one or two night backcountry loop starting at the Elkmont Campground.

Also in Tennessee, United States of America

Hiking Difficult

Distance
40 km
Ascent
1.6 km
Descent
1.6 km
Duration
1 day +
Low Point
656 m
High Point
1.8 km
Gradient
VIEW ON MAP
Elkmont Loop Map

Description

Beginning at the Elkmont Campground, this circuit is a versatile overnight trip with beautiful rivers, waterfalls, and epic views at the higher elevations! You can hike this exact route, or add in your own unique twist with a side trip to Middle Prong Trail or even Clingmans Dome on the AT! There is plenty of history to be discovered along the way too, including remnants of logging camps or the historic Daisy Town near the campground.

This loop is great year-round, and can be completed in one or two nights. There are plenty of campsites in the backcountry and a developed shelter on the Appalachian Trail near Silers Bald. Water is available at the lower elevations, particularly along the Little River and Jakes Creek Trail, but should always be treated or filtered first.

The route begins at the Elkmont Campground, about eight miles from Gatlinburg. It's listed as "the largest and busiest campground in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park," and it "enjoys a moderate climate, characterized by mild winters and hot, humid summers." Source There are 200 traditional drive-in campsites, plus an additional 20 walk-in sites as of 2020. Reservtions can be made here.

Worth noting, some trail reports such as this one have reported sightings of wild boar along portions of this route. They are not native to the area and are incredibly destructive. Making loud noises and/or yelling generally deters them, but bear spray and a whistle are highly recommended when hiking in the backcountry.

Dogs are not allowed on any trails within the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

Sources: https://www.recreation.gov/camping/campgrounds/232487

Difficulty

Difficult

Hiking trails where obstacles such as rocks or roots are prevalent. Some obstacles can require care to step over or around. At times, the trail can be worn and eroded. The grade of the trail is generally quite steep, and can often lead to strenuous hiking.

Medium Exposure

2 out of 4

The trail contains some obstacles such as outcroppings and rock which could cause injury.

Remoteness

4 out of 4

In the high mountains or remote conditions, all individuals must be completely autonomous in every situation.

Best time to visit

January, February, March, April, May, June, July, August, September, October, November, December

Features

  • Wildlife
  • Historical
  • Picturesque
  • Summit Hike
  • Wild flowers
  • Water features
  • Family friendly
  • Forestry or heavy vegetation

Similar routes nearby

Guidebooks in this area