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Chestnut Branch Trail

 3.3 (3)

2.1 Miles 3.4 Kilometers


71%

Runnable

1,246' 380 m

Ascent

0' 0 m

Descent

11%

Avg Grade (6°)

26%

Max Grade (15°)

2,880' 878 m

High

1,634' 498 m

Low

Shared By Ken Wise

Conditions


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A short, sometimes punchy, climb connecting to the Appalachian Trail.

Ken Wise

Dogs No Dogs

Features Fall Colors · River/Creek

Runner Notes

Sections of punchy climbs make for a strenuous run.

Description

The Chestnut Branch Trail begins along Big Creek Road a few yards past the Big Creek Ranger Station. The trail starts steeply, but quickly moderates to an easier grade when it enters a stand of old-field hemlocks and pines. The trail continues with little variation in grade, eventually working its way into stands of yellow poplar, American beech, and a variety of oaks while passing the occasional rock wall and chestnut fence post that mark places of former human inhabitation.

A half-mile above Big Cove Road, the forest cover gives way to a clearing with discarded remnants from a mission school and grist mill that used to occupy the space. Above the clearing, the drainage narrows noticeably where the trail crosses a feeder stream and enters a closed oak association.

The trail soon reaches another clearing before switching away from Chestnut Branch and onto a steeper grade. At this juncture, the trail follows a newer roadbed that ascends the adjacent ridge.

When it turns to leave the old timber trace, the trail proceeds 180 yards to a switchback, then 200 yards to a second switchback. It then clears a ridge and levels out on a moderately easy grade. Four stream crossings intervene before the trail enters a thin copse of second-growth poplars now occupying what was once a mountain settlement.

The old-field poplars mark the onset of a steep half-mile approach to a minor swag on the main Smoky divide where the Chestnut Branch Trail terminates into the AT: Smoky Mountain Hiking Club (TN/NC) portion of the Appalachian Trail.

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.

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Trail Ratings

  3.3 from 3 votes

#4

in Big Creek

#14146

Overall
  3.3 from 3 votes
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Rankings

#4

in Big Creek

#555

in North Carolina

#14,146

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