“A trail that highlights the history and natural beauty of the park with wildflowers and cascades.”
— David Hitchcock
River/Creek · Waterfall · Wildflowers
The 3 mile gravel road past Tremont is closed in the winter. The trail is also closed when the Laurel Creek Road is closed from the Townsend Y to Cades Cove. For park road conditions, information can be found at twitter.com/smokiesroadsnps or by calling (865) 436-1200 and dialing extension 2, 2.
The bottom part of the trail is an old, wide railroad bed, so it's pretty easy to run, although it is uphill.
If you are headed to Cades Cove, at .2 miles from the Townsend "Y," turn left onto Tremont Road and continue 5.4 miles on the main road (it turns to gravel) to a gate and parking circle.
Your trail starts by crossing a high bridge over the Middle Prong River and into a flat area, the location of an old lumber camp. The trail is wide and the Lynn Camp Prong follows the trail on the left. The trail rises higher over the river and wildflowers can be found throughout the area. You'll notice chutes, falls, and pools in the river as you make your way up the trail. The trail begins to level out and at .7 miles, there is a bench where you can rest. There is a small waterfall in this area that is the remains of old splash dams, which were used by the loggers to help get logs down the mountain to the sawmill in Townsend.
The trail levels out as it follows the creek, and another bench beside the road is provided for you to rest and take in more wildflowers. At 2.0 miles, there is a narrow trail to the right that leads to an old car frame, which speaks to the area's use as a CCC camp during the Great Depression.
As you continue on the trail, you'll encounter the Panther Creek Trail
, which goes off to the left as your trail narrows straight ahead. The Middle Prong CCC Camp was built in this area as crews constructed roads in the park between 1933 and 1937. After the camp, the trail continues the climb, and starts to switchback. At 3.5 miles, you cross a bridge that traverses Indian Flats Prong before the trail starts to turn away from the creek and climb a steepening series of switchbacks.
The trail ends where several trails intersect. Climbing from the junction, the Greenbrier Ridge Trail
climbs 4.2 miles to the Appalachian Trail (AT). If you turn right when you get to the AT, the Derrick Knob shelter is located 4.5 miles from the trail junction. If you take the Lynn Camp Prong, you can follow that 3.7 miles to the Miry Ridge Trail
and then take the Panther Creek Trail
back to the Middle Prong Trail and back to your car. The final option is retrace your steps back to your car, enjoying a downhill stroll.
The Tremont area has a rich logging history, signs of which can be encountered through the trip. The trail is an old railroad bed that was used by the Little River Lumber Company to haul logs out of the forest. Remnants left behind by the loggers reveal the impact on the countryside, and how the forest is recovering from this damage.
Flora & Fauna
This trail is great for wildflowers in the spring. Foamflower's, toothwort, jack-in-the-pulpits, anemones, violets, rhododendron, dog-hobble, wild ginger, jewelweed, wild ginger, doll's eye, trillium, sweet cicely, goldenrod, and asters bloom are just some of the many wildflowers you will encounter on this trail.
Great Blue Herons can be seen along the creeks as they hunt for food.