Trail: Albright Grove Loop via Maddron Bald Trail
Surface: Old Gravel Road, Rocky Forest Trail
Distance: 6.5 miles
Time: 4.5 hours
Accessible: April – October
Foot Traffic: Few Hikers
Restrooms: Convenience Stores on US 321, (backcountry regulations)
Highlights: Wildflowers, Old-Growth Forest, Cascades, Streams, Historical
Albright Grove Loop Trailhead
From Gatlinburg: At traffic light #3 in Gatlinburg, drive east 15.7-miles on East Parkway (US 321-N) to Baxter Road. Baxter Road is not marked, so look for the Magnolia Tree Restaurant on the left. After passing the restaurant, Baxter Road is the next road on the right. Turn right, drive 0.3-mile, and turn right again. The Maddron Bald Trail trailhead is on the left.
Albright Grove Loop Description
Access to the 0.7-mile Albright Grove Loop is from Maddron Bald Trail. The trail begins as an old gravel road, left over from the early days of the park.
The Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) built this road in the 1930’s to provide access to areas of the park where they were working on reforestation projects.
The trailhead is the lowest elevation on the trail. Most of the Maddron Bald Trail is a gradual uphill hike (approximately 1,700 feet), although it levels off for short periods.
The final 0.3-mile approach to Albright Grove Loop is the steepest part of this hike.
Maddron Bald Trail intersects Old Settlers Trail (on the right) and Gabes Mountain Trail (on the left) at 1.2-miles. Go straight ahead.
The old gravel road gives way to a narrow forest trail about 2.3-miles from the trailhead as you enter magnificent old-growth forest.
The old trees reach to the sky and provide an amazing experience unlike any other in the park.
CC Photo: Miguel Vieira
Albright Grove Loop comes into view at the 2.9-miles mark of the trail. This 0.7-mile loop honors Horace Albright, an early advocate for creating the park, and its second director.
Old Growth Tree
Albright Grove is home to thousands of old-growth hardwood trees. Great Smoky Mountains National Park is a massive area with one of the most diverse collections of foliage in North America.
The old-growth forest contains splendid Fraser Magnolias, Eastern Hemlock, Basswood, Buckeye, Yellow Birch, Sugar Maples, Beeches, Tulip Poplars, and others.
Albright Grove Loop reconnects with Maddron Bald Trail after 0.7-mile. Turn left and continue hiking back to the trailhead.
Nearby Points of Interest
Old Settlers Trail is the longest trail in Great Smoky Mountains National Park at 15.9-miles. Many hikers consider it the best trail for seeing historical ruins. Porters Creek Trail and Ramsey Cascades Trail are both in the nearby Greenbrier Road area.