Kephart Prong Trail
ElevationAscent: 842' 257 m
Descent: -841' -256 m
High: 3,576' 1,090 m
Low: 2,734' 833 m
GradeAvg Grade: 8% (4°)
Max Grade: 17% (10°)
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“A quiet stroll along the Oconaluftee River that showcases the park's CCC and logging history.”— David Hitchcock
From the Sugarlands Visitor Center near Gatlinburg, you'll drive 21.8 miles south on Newfound Gap Road to reach the trailhead.
Running from Newfound Gap Road to the Kephart Prong Shelter, you'll cross the Oconaluftee River several times as you follow the old Champion Fiber Company logging road to the shelter. After 0.2 of a mile, you'll see remains of a Civilian Conservation Corps Camp that was here from 1933-1942. The remains of the CCC include old walls, chimneys, and other artifacts from the camp that housed over 200 members of the CCC during the Great Depression.
After you pass the remains of the camp, the trail continues gently uphill, crossing the river 4 more times until you reach the shelter. The four river crossing are all log footbridges, which make for easy crossing except in snowy/icy conditions.
Once you reach the Kephart Prong Shelter at 2.1 miles, you have several options detailed on the signs at the shelter. You can take the Grassy Branch Trail that climbs to the Dry Sluice Gap Trail, and then onto the Appalachian Trail. Another possibility is to take the Sweat Heifer Creek Trail up to the Appalachian Trail, and then back to Newfound Gap where you can either try to hitch a ride back to your car or have another car parked there so you can get back to your car at the trailhead. Both of these options are more strenuous as they are entirely uphill.
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Need to Know, Flora & Fauna, Runner Notes, History & Background
Land Manager: NPS - Great Smoky Mountains National Park