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Kanati Fork Trail

Difficult
 3.0 (4)

A great wildflower run in the spring that climbs relentlessly to the Thomas Divide Trail.


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Map Key

2.9

Miles

4.7

KM

63%

Runnable

4,962' 1,512 m

High

2,856' 871 m

Low

2,106' 642 m

Up

0' 0 m

Down

14%

Avg Grade (8°)

26%

Max Grade (15°)

Dogs No Dogs

Features River/Creek · 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.

Runner Notes

The trail climbs relentlessly and is narrow and in some spots slanted due to erosion. If it's been raining, there could be a great deal of mud to deal with.

Description

From Cherokee, drive 12 miles north on Newfound Gap Road to reach the parking area just before the Kephart Prong Trailhead. If you pass the Kephart Prong Trailhead, then you have gone too far.

From the Sugarlands Visitor Center near Gatlinburg, you'll drive 21.4 miles south on Newfound Gap Road to reach the trailhead.

According to Cherokee legend, Kanati was the first man and guardian of the hunt. While most of the legend takes place outside of the Smokies, it is unclear why this creek is name for him.

The trail departs Highway 441 and starts climbing immediately as it makes its way to the Thomas Divide Trail. Over the next 2.9 miles, the trail climbs roughly 2100 feet with very few breaks along the way. The trail is in the best here as it rises above the Kanati Fork. Crossing the feeder streams that flow into the creek several times in the first mile, the trail narrows as it continues to climb up the flank of Thomas Divide. In the first 2 miles of the trail, this is where the most wildflowers are in the spring, the best time of year to run this trail. If it has been raining, the trail may be muddy.

Climbing a series of switchbacks along the way, the trail makes its way up the mountain. In some areas, there are steep slopes that drop off the side of the trail, giving you good views into the ravines and coves in the area. The trail finally arrives at the Thomas Divide Trail junction. Turning right, the trail continues to climb, although less steeply, for 1.75 miles to return to Newfound Gap Road. If you turn left, the trail descends roughly 12 miles to the Galbraith Creek Road.

Flora & Fauna

This trail is great for wildflowers especially in the first 2 miles. Violets, trillium, wake robin, book lettuce, and false Solomon’s seal, bee balm, trout-lily, and rue anemone are just some of the flowers you will find along the run.

Rhododendron, eastern hemlocks, yellow poplars, birch, magnolia, and silverbells are just some of the variety of trees you'll encounter along the trail.

Contacts

Shared By:

David Hitchcock

Trail Ratings

  3.0 from 4 votes

#10

in Oconaluftee

#21540

Overall
  3.0 from 4 votes
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Trail Rankings

#10

in Oconaluftee

#870

in North Carolina

#21,540

Overall
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421 Since Sep 4, 2015
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Photos

The Kanati Fork Trail switchbacks abundantly along its route near a few creeks.
Apr 1, 2017 near Cherokee, NC
The Kanati Fork Trailhead.
Apr 19, 2017 near Cherokee, NC

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