Jakes Creek Trail
ElevationAscent: 1,815' 553 m
Descent: 0' 0 m
High: 4,046' 1,233 m
Low: 2,231' 680 m
GradeAvg Grade: 9% (5°)
Max Grade: 22% (12°)
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“An ascent past dilapidated vacation homes as the trail climbs along Jakes Creek to Jakes Gap.”— David Hitchcock
The turnoff for the Elkmont Campground will be 12.6 miles away from the Townsend "Y" on the Little River Road.
The trail climbs for roughly 0.4 miles past these vacation homes as it follows an old railroad bed. At mile 0.3, the Cucumber Gap Trail breaks off to the left and then at mile 0.4, the Meigs Mountain Trail goes off to the right. It's a wide, gravel trail (it had to support the trains hauling lumber out of the valley) as it approaches Jakes Creek as it works its way uphill. The gravel ends around 1.2 miles, as the trail crosses a series of creeks via log footbridges, and this area of the trail can be dangerous after heavy rain. This is typical of creek valleys in the Smokies, so make sure you check the weather before heading out. The trail narrows at this point as it climbs a switchback into a forest dominated by Fraser magnolias. Rocks and tree roots are common obstacles on the trail from this point on.
Around mile 2.6, you have gained about 1,000 feet of elevation and arrived at Campsite #27, which is a popular campsite with several sites and fire rings. The trail continues to climb as the creek starts to disappear. Gently climbing for the last 0.7 miles, the trail reaches Jakes Gap at an elevation of 4,055 feet. The trail has climbed over 1,500 feet since leaving Elkmont.
At this point, there are several options. The Panther Creek Trail drops down to the Middle Prong Trail and the Tremont area while the Miry Ridge Trail goes off to the left and continues to climb to the Appalachian Trail. The other option, enjoy a downhill run back to your car.
This area was logged by the Little River Lumber Company in the 1900s, so there aren't a great number of old growth trees in this area. After the lumber company was finished logging the area, the land was sold to settlers and vacationers, whose homes can still be seen, even though they are dilapidated now. If you've read about the ghost town in the Great Smoky Mountains, this is the area described in those tales.
Wildflowers can be seen along various portions of the trail in the spring.
Deer, bear, wild turkeys, and other animals have been seen throughout the area.
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Land Manager: NPS - Great Smoky Mountains National Park