“A trail through a grove of some of the oldest and largest trees in the Smokies.”
— David Hitchcock
A backcountry permit is required to stay in campsites and shelters. Camping is restricted to established campsites or shelters throughout the park. The closest campsite on the Maddron Bald Trail
is Campsite #29.
The trail is narrow and rocky, so not the greatest for trail running.
In order to reach the Albright Grove Loop Trail
, take Highway 321 from Gatlinburg past Pittman Center. On the right, take Laurel Springs Road to the parking area where the Maddron Bald Trail
departs. Run roughly 3 miles along the Maddron Bald trail until you reach the first Albright Grove Trail junction. The Maddron Bald Trail
goes off to the left while the Albright Grove Loop Trail
continues straight ahead.
The Albright Grove Loop Trail
is named after Horace Albright, who was the second director of the National Park Service and worked diligently to help establish Great Smoky Mountains National Park. The Grove is home to some of the oldest and tallest trees in the park as the area was not logged by Champion Fibre, who sold the land to the park service. Due to its location in a more remote area of the park, the trail is not heavily traveled, allowing you to enjoy a quiet journey in the woods.
After departing the Maddron Bald Trail
, the trail narrows and begins to climb for roughly .3 miles as it follows Dunn Creek. Eastern hemlocks and tulip poplars are plentiful throughout the grove. If you have explored other areas of the park that were logged before its formation, youll notice that the trees here are much larger. This is an example of what a mature, cove hardwood forest looks like. Imagine a time when all the forests in the Smokies looked like this. The trail levels off along a ridge before it turns right and descends back to meet up with the Maddron Bald Trail
. During the descent, there is a small spur trail that leads to a giant tulip tree, roughly 25 feet in diameter.
The trail joins back up with the Maddron Bald Trail
.3 miles away from the first trail junction. From here, you can go to the right as the Maddron Bald Trail
makes its way towards the Snake Den Ridge Trail
or you can go left and head back to the parking lot.
For overnight backpackers, consider being dropped off or parking at a business along 321 (for a small fee) as vandalism and theft have been issues here in the past.
Flora & Fauna
Silverbell flowers bloom in April.
There are a variety of trees that can be found throughout the grove. Since this is a virgin forest, the trees here are larger than trees found in other areas of the park.