Trail: Smokemont Loop Trail
Surface: Old Gravel Roads and Forest Trails
Distance: 6.1 miles
Time: 3-4 hours
Foot Traffic: Not Crowded
Equestrians: Allowed (Bradley Fork Trail Section Only)
Restrooms: Smokemont Campground (backcountry regulations)
Highlights: Historical, Streams, Wildflowers, Horses
Smokemont Loop Trail Trailhead
From Oconaluftee Visitor Center: Drive 3.5 miles north on Newfound Gap Road to Smokemont Campground.
From Sugarlands Visitor Center: Drive 25.6 miles on Newfound Gap Road to Smokemont Campground.
After entering the campground, park in one of the designated areas. Walk to the Bradley Fork Trail trailhead at the rear of the campground, in D-Loop.
Smokemont Loop Trail Description
Begin your hike on Bradley Fork Trail. The trail follows a river by the same name and provides an incline/decline of more than 1,300 feet. Due to the slight incline, this trail is a “moderate” hike.
If you are hiking in the spring, expect to see beautiful wildflowers, especially along the Bradley Fork Trail. In addition to hikers, equestrians use this section of the loop, so horse manure is common. Watch your step!
Footbridge | Photo: Bobby Trotter
After walking 1.7 miles on Bradley Fork Trail, turn left and cross the river to access Smokemont Loop Trail.
The trail surface changes from a gravel road to a forest trail after crossing the bridge.
Crossing the river requires a little dexterity and a smidgen of courage as the bridge is a single log, about 40 feet long and 2 feet wide.
I read somewhere that this is the longest footbridge in the park.
The trail winds back down the mountain for 3.9 miles, arriving at the campground on the opposite end from where you started.
Smokemont Loop Trail is a beautiful hike with flowers, trees, and views. The summit provides great views of the surrounding mountains.
Nearby Points of Interest
Oconaluftee Mountain Farm Museum and Mingus Mill are less than 5 miles from the trail. These two destinations are great for learning about pre-park history and seeing old buildings preserved from the time.