Hughes Ridge Trail
ElevationAscent: 1,178' 359 m
Descent: -479' -146 m
High: 5,540' 1,689 m
Low: 4,841' 1,475 m
GradeAvg Grade: 7% (4°)
Max Grade: 19% (11°)
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“A nice wildflower run in a remote region of Great Smoky Mountains National Park.”— David Hitchcock
A backcountry permit is required to stay in campsites and shelters. Camping is restricted to established campsites or shelters throughout the park.
Thanks to its more remote location in the backcountry, the Hughes Ridge Trail offers a wildflower run without the crowds found in other areas of the park. While you may encounter day runners on the way to the trail, once you turn onto Hughes Ridge Trail, you'll probably only encounter a couple of backpackers who spent the night at Campsite #47 or #48 on Chasten Creek Trail or Peck's Corner Shelter on the AT. If you want spend the night, make sure that you get a permit to stay at the shelter or one of the campsites.
The trail climbs from its junction with the Chasteen Creek Trail and Enloe Creek Trail to the Appalachian Trail at Pecks Corner. The trail is narrow as it hugs the ridge line, but is well covered by trees making for pleasant running. This area is great for wildflower viewing in the spring and early summer. The trail rises and falls until it reaches the junction with the Bradley Fork Trail at 2.5 miles. If you take a left, the trail will descend back to Smokemont and your car. Continuing straight ahead, the trail widens as it follows an old Jeep track that ran up the trail to within .5 miles of the AT. The trail becomes rougher due to ruts and loose rocks in this area, caused by years of use and erosion. From here, the trail stays above 5,000 feet as it climbs toward the Peck's Corner Shelter.
At roughly 4 miles, there is a maintenance shed once used for horse patrols that sits off to the righthand side. The trail dips slightly and the path to the Peck's Corner shelter is off on the right. The Hughes Ridge Trail climbs for another .4 miles until it reaches its junction with the Appalachian Trail (AT). From here, you can go to the left and make your way back to Newfound Gap (10.5 miles) or turn right and head toward Tricorner Knob (5.3 miles) and the Cosby area of the park.
Trees - Rhododendron, red spruce, beeches, yellow birches, fraser magnolias, maples,
Deer, bear, and wild hogs (at least evidence of them) have been seen in the area.
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Land Manager: NPS - Great Smoky Mountains National Park