This is a horse trail as well, so you may encounter riders on this trail. Please respect their right-of-way.
If you are headed to Cades Cove, at .2 miles from the Townsend "Y," turn left onto Tremont Road and follow the road for 2 miles until you get to Tremont Institute, where you can park. The trail starts behind the dorm that is up the gravel road from the institute.
The trail starts climbing immediately, and will continue until about 2.5 miles into the route after gaining about 1200 feet of elevation gain. While there is a lot of climbing, its an easy trail to get to and a quiet trip once you get there. A little over .25 miles into the climb, you'll start to get views of the Middle Prong of the Little River and glimpses of Walker Valley. After the first half mile, the views fade and you start your quiet journey through woods as the sounds of cars and Tremont fade. You'll pass through a pine forest around 1 mile, where you can witness the work of the Southern pine bark beetle. Even though it burrows through the outer bark and feeds on the inner bark of a tree, this is part of the natural cycle here as room for the next generation of trees is made. You continue to move up Mill Ridge as you move between cool, moist valleys and dry ridges.
Once you reach about 2.5 miles, you cross the saddle, a low point on Lumber Ridge. This saddle is a nice place to take a break after all of your climbing. The trail will descend until it levels out around the 3 mile mark. The final mile of the trail is relatively flat as you make your way to Buckhorn Gap. You'll pass through stands of oaks, huckleberries, and other trees, causing it to be a popular place for animals to find food. You'll finally arrive at Buckhorn Gap where the trail meets the Meigs Creek Trail
and the Meigs Mountain Trail
You can either return to your car via the path you came, or you can take one of the trails. Meigs Creek Trail
drops 1000 feet over 3.5 miles until it reaches Little River Road while the Meigs Mountain Trail
continues 6.4 miles to Elkmont.
The trail leading up to Buckhorn gap is full of nuts and huckleberries in the fall, so it's a popular eating place for animals like deer, bear, squirrels, and birds like the Ruffed Grouse.
Wildflowers can be found in the cool, moist spring branch valleys. There is a stand of Mountain Laurel around 2.75 miles, which blooms in May or early June. Azaleas can also be seen in portions of the trails.