Kanati Fork Trail
ElevationAscent: 2,106' 642 m
Descent: 0' 0 m
High: 4,962' 1,512 m
Low: 2,856' 871 m
GradeAvg Grade: 14% (8°)
Max Grade: 26% (15°)
Current trail conditions
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“A great wildflower run in the spring that climbs relentlessly to the Thomas Divide Trail.”— David Hitchcock
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.
Rhododendron, eastern hemlocks, yellow poplars, birch, magnolia, and silverbells are just some of the variety of trees you'll encounter along the trail.
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Land Manager: NPS - Great Smoky Mountains National Park