All campsites must be registered with the Great Smoky Mountain National Park.
The Great Smoky Mountain National Park also closes secondary roads on a seasonal schedule due to snow. Schedules can be found here
Backcountry rules and regulations can be found here
Features: Birding — Fall Colors — River/Creek — Spring — Wildflowers — Wildlife
Dogs: No Dogs
The trailhead is on Laurel Springs Road, just off of Highway 321. It's a 7.4 mile trail that ends at Snake Den Ridge Trail
The first couple of miles of this trail are pretty relaxed, and they follow a creek. In less than a mile, runners will find a small cabin that was built in the late 1800s. In about a mile, there's a creek crossing before coming to a junction with Gabes Mountain Trail
to the left and Old Settlers Trail
to the right.
Continuing onwards, runners will pass a row of boulders and then ascend a ridge where they will come to a fork that will allow you to take Albright Grove Loop Trail
before continuing back on to Maddron Bald Trail. Albright Grove Loop Trail
is 0.6 miles; should runners choose to skip this trail, it's 0.3 miles before they pass the other end of the small loop.
From here, the trail gradually ascends. The trail will cross Otter Creek, just next to Campsite #29. Some (but not all) of the campsites are a little rocky, and not ideal for tent stakes. It's not far from here to Maddron Bald, where you can get a wonderful panoramic view of the Smokies.
After that, it's less than a mile before runners reach Snake Den Ridge Trail
, where they can either turn right towards the Appalachian Trail (AT) or left for a lengthy run back towards the Cosby Campground.
The Smokies are home to more than 1,600 species of plants, most of which produce an abundance of flowers in the spring. These species include mountain laurel, rhododendron, azalea, and many others. Spring wildflowers peak from early April through late May. To learn more about the plants of the Smokies and even get a trees and shrubs checklist, visit the park's website
As for local fauna, black bears are common in the area, along with white-tailed deer and 31 species of salamanders.
Birdwatchers can spot a variety of species, notably the northern flicker (Colaptes auratus) and red-eyed vireo (Vireo olivaceus).
For more information on black bears, refer to this webpage