Trail Run Project Logo

Road Prong Trail

Intermediate/Difficult

Trail

2.3 mile 3.7 kilometer point to point
70% Runnable
Intermediate/Difficult

Elevation

Ascent: 1,451' 442 m
Descent: -23' -7 m
High: 5,273' 1,607 m
Low: 3,845' 1,172 m

Grade

Avg Grade: 12% (7°)
Max Grade: 24% (14°)

Dogs

No Dogs
Driving directions Take a virtual tour
Zoom in to see details
Map Key

Trail shared by David Hitchcock

Use the old road to Clingman's Dome Road and the Appalachian Trail (AT).

David Hitchcock

Features Fall Colors · River/Creek · Views · Wildflowers

Closed if Newfound Gap Road (US HWY 441 between Gatlinburg TN - Cherokee NC) is closed due to snow and ice. Newfound Gap Road information can be found at twitter.com/smokiesroadsnps or by calling (865) 436-1200 and dialing extension 2, 2.

Clingmans Dome Road is closed in the winter, so access via that road is restricted during that time of year.

Runner Notes

The trail is rocky, wet, and narrow, and crosses several creek along the way. This one has also been known to suffer from blown down trees. It's very steep as well. All of these features combine to make for a difficult, though not impossible run.

Description

The trail begins at Chimney Tops Trailhead, 6.3 miles from Sugarlands on Newfound Gap Road and 6.7 miles from Newfound Gap. You need to make your way out on the Chimney Tops Trail .9 miles to Beech Flats, where our trail breaks off to the left.

This is a good climb from the Chimney Tops Trail to Indian Gap on Clingmans Dome Road and the Appalachian Trail. Most of the trail is uphill and climbs along the old toll road that connected Sevierville, TN and Cherokee, NC. As you leave the trail junction, you'll notice wildflower blooming if you are on this trail in the spring. The trail is an old roadbed that is rocky and eroded now, although it doesn't get a lot of foot traffic. Hugging Mount Mingus, the trail moves upward through rhododendron trees until it comes to a footbridge that crosses Road Prong.

As you move up the trail, you pass Standing Rock and a couple waterfalls and cascades. Around 1.6 miles, the trail diverts from the original path due to a massive flash flood and the resulting landslide and log jam that have torn up the area (see photos).

The trail continues to ascend as it moves through spruce-fir forests before you encounter fir trees ravaged by the balsam woolly adelgid. Most of the mature fir trees in this area have been infested by these invasive insects and have died.

As the trail climbs, the Road Prong gets smaller and crosses the creek about a dozen times. At this point, it's probably just easier to make your way up the middle of the creek, if the water isn't too high. The trail leaves the creek and becomes shaded, so if you are visiting in the winter, you may encounter some snow in the shaded areas even if the rest of the trail is clear.

A little more climbing brings you to a grassy patch where you cross the Appalachian Trail and encounter Clingmans Dome Road. You can explore the AT in either direction. Going to the right will take you out to Clingmans Dome and going left will take you to Newfound Gap. If you want to get back to your car, turn around and follow the trail back to the Chimney Tops Trail and trailhead.

Run this trail?

We need help with the following missing trail information:

Need to Know, Flora & Fauna

Is something wrong? Let us know. Have photos to share? Help fellow runners know what's here.

Contacts

Rate This Trail

Rate Quality


   Clear Rating

Rate Difficulty

Share This Trail

Check In

Check-Ins

none

Trail Ratings

  3.6 from 5 votes

#16456

Overall
  3.6 from 5 votes
5 Star
0%
4 Star
60%
3 Star
40%
2 Star
0%
1 Star
0%
Trail Rankings

#304

in North Carolina

#16,456

Overall
63 Views Last Month
1,243 Since Sep 4, 2015
Intermediate/Difficult

0%
0%
60%
20%
20%
0%

Photos

Lichen covered rocks on the side of the trail.
Jan 30, 2016 near Gatlinburg, TN
The higher elevations and the shade can allow you the opportunity to walk through the snow even though the trail is clear at lower elevations.
Jan 30, 2016 near Gatlinburg, TN
Log jam, land slide, mud slide. It's a mess, and the trail now bypasses it making it easier for to navigate the downed trees.
Jan 30, 2016 near Gatlinburg, TN
Road Prong Trail
Dec 31, 2015 near Gatlinburg, TN
Road Prong as it works its way down the mountain.
Jan 30, 2016 near Gatlinburg, TN
Road Prong Trail as it narrows and begins it's climb to Clingmans Dome Road and the AT.
Jan 30, 2016 near Gatlinburg, TN

0 Comments

Trail Run Project is part of the REI Co-op family,
where a life outdoors is a life well lived.

Shop REI Running