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Cooper Road Trail

Intermediate/Difficult
 2.8 (5)

An old wagon road through gorgeous Smoky Mountain woodlands.


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Map Key

10.8

Miles

17.3

KM

90%

Runnable

2,219' 676 m

High

1,112' 339 m

Low

2,040' 622 m

Up

1,331' 406 m

Down

6%

Avg Grade (3°)

16%

Max Grade (9°)

Dogs No Dogs

Features Fall Colors · River/Creek · Views

Description

The Cooper Road Trail begins at the upper end of Abrams Creek Campground and follows a smooth, gravel track through an attractive corridor of tall white pines. Soon, the trail clears a low rise over a sweeping bend in Abrams Creek. Above the campground, a feeder stream seeking Kingfisher Creek may entail a wet crossing, but even when rock-hopping is not feasible, the crossing is never difficult.

Slightly less than a mile above Abrams Creek Campground, the Cooper Road Trail intersects the Little Bottoms Trail on the right before entering the Cooper Road Backcountry Campsite (#1).

When it leaves the campsite, the trail retains its character as a rough wagon road, wide and rutted, passing through occasional muddy puddles. Beyond the campsite, it reaches Gold Mine Gap, where it intersects the eastern terminus of the Gold Mine Trail.

Beyond Gold Mine Gap, the Cooper Road Trail descends to Cane Gap before turning sharply right and climbing steadily to the crest of Hatcher Mountain. The road course here is dry and sandy, heavily eroded, and often encumbered with roots and rocks.

When the Cooper Road Trail reaches the crest of Hatcher Mountain, it enters a crossroads that marks the intersection of Cooper Road with the Hatcher Mountain Trail and the Beard Cane Trail before descending steadily on a rough, rocky course to a stream crossing. The steepness moderates, and the roughness subsides as the trail proceeds to the coolness of a shaded hollow where it immediately crosses a tributary of Wilson Branch. Farther along, the trail completes a messy crossing of Wilson Branch and then turns and proceeds up the hollow following the course of a small feeder stream.

At the head of the draw, the trail crosses the feeder and enters into a steep climb to the crest of Stony Ridge. Upon clearing Stony Ridge, the trail descends to an easy crossing of Stony Branch and then turns and starts into a climb to the crest of Arbutus Ridge. As it eases onto the ridge, the trail turns sharply back to the left to follow the ridgeline briefly before dropping off for a steep descent into the Arbutus Branch drainage. Here, the course winds considerably on a track that is wide, smooth, and shaded by pines before ending at a tributary of Arbutus Branch.

Crossing Arbutus Branch on a concrete causeway, the trail proceeds downstream for a short distance, approaching Cades Cove before intersecting the upper terminus of the Wet Bottom Trail just before the trail’s end.

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.

Flora & Fauna

Eastern hemlock, red maple, Fraser magnolia, pine, and American holly are abundant along the trail.

Contacts

Shared By:

Ken Wise

Trail Ratings

  2.8 from 5 votes

#4

in Abrams Creek

#23077

Overall
  2.8 from 5 votes
5 Star
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4 Star
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3 Star
20%
2 Star
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1 Star
20%
Trail Rankings

#4

in Abrams Creek

#474

in North Carolina

#23,077

Overall
69 Views Last Month
2,358 Since Jul 28, 2016
Intermediate/Difficult

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Photos

Approaching Backcountry Campsite #1
Apr 22, 2019 near Maryville, TN
Late afternoon sun sets in as the Cooper Road Trail passes Hatcher Mountain Trail (left) and Beard Cane Trail (right)
Apr 22, 2019 near Wildwood, TN
As the trail leaves the campground, the trail is gravel and wide.
Apr 18, 2018 near Maryville, TN
The Cooper Road Trail as it climbs up a gentle rise.
Apr 18, 2018 near Maryville, TN
After rain storms, water can flow in the middle of the trail, which is common in the creek and river valleys of the Smokies.
Apr 18, 2018 near Maryville, TN
Some old trees can be seen along the trail.
Apr 18, 2018 near Maryville, TN

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