Trail: Old Sugarlands Trail
Type: Out & Back
Surface: Old Mountain Road, Packed Dirt & Roots
Distance: 6.8 miles (RT)
Time: 3 hours
Foot Traffic: Few Hikers
Restrooms: Sugarlands Visitor Center (backcountry regulations)
Highlights: River, Historical Places, Wildflowers
Old Sugarlands Trail Trailhead
The trailhead for Old Sugarlands Trail is located on Newfound Gap Road (US 441) about 150 yards from Park Headquarters Road. Parking spaces for about five or six cars are available at the trailhead. Under normal circumstances, this is enough parking; unfortunately, not too many people hike this historic trail.
From the Sugarlands Visitor Center: Drive towards Gatlinburg and the trailhead is on the right just past Park Headquarters Road.
From Gatlinburg: Take the Parkway (US 441) toward the park and the Old Sugarlands Trail trailhead will be on the left, 1.5 miles from traffic light #10. You need to pass the trailhead and turn around on one of the side roads to access parking next to the trail.
Old Sugarlands Trail Description
We are rating this trail “moderate” due to the 1,200’ elevation change. The first 1.5 miles is nearly flat with only a 200’ change in elevation.
However, the next two miles are a different story, with a 1,000’ rise in elevation. The bright side is that the rise is somewhat gradual.
Old Sugarlands is a wide trail and does not have any dangerous drop-offs to worry about. The surface is an old mountain road and still looks like a two-lane road through the woods.
Moss Covered Stone Wall | Old Sugarlands Trail
Signs along the trail point to the Sugarlands Cemetery, an abandoned schoolhouse, and other points of interest.
Equestrians use this trail, so be careful where you step. At mile 3.2, Old Sugarlands Trail intersects with Two Mile Lead Concession Horse Trail. You might see a horse or two in the area.
Old Sugarlands Trail Background
Sugarlands was a thriving community in the early 1800’s. Like most of the mountain region’s residents, farming was the primary vocation of the day.
After the Civil War, moonshine entered the picture and some of the people living in remote areas of the Sugarlands turned to bootlegging. By the turn of the twentieth century, logging changed everything.
Due to over-logging and a general sentiment throughout Tennessee and North Carolina that the mountains needed preserving, the government created Great Smoky Mountains National Park.
However, the creation of the park forced residents out. The Old Sugarlands Trail winds through the area where one of the oldest communities in the Smoky Mountains once stood.
Nearby Points of Interest
Sugarlands Visitor Center is only a minute or so from the trailhead. Elkmont is 6.0-miles from the visitor center on Fighting Creek Gap Road. Of course, Gatlinburg is within walking distance of the trailhead.