Hike to Rocky Top

12.8 miles 3500 ft gain  - Out-and-Back Trail

Added by Ally Woodall

This hike has some of the most rewarding views in all of the Smoky Mountains!

Rocky Top is known to be the spot that inspired the famousfight song of the University of Tennessee, which is also an official song forthe state of Tennessee. 

The trailhead for this hike begins in the Cade’s Cove picnicarea parking lot towards the back side. There are a few parking spots right atthe trailhead, so arrive early in the day to ensure a spot. To begin, followthe Anthony Creek Trail for about 3.5 miles. Hikers will pass a horse camprelatively early on and then a few bridges over the creek that the trail follows.The first 2 miles are relatively easy to moderate in difficulty, only gainingabout 500 feet in elevation.

At about 3.5 miles, Anthony Creek Trail will join BoteMountain Trail. Turn right to continue heading up to Rocky Top. Here the traillandscape will change slightly and increase elevation gain. Rhododendron linethe trail on each side and create a dense barrier limiting visibility throughthe woods. Erosion has also created a ditch-like tunnel on this portion of thetrail.

At around 5.2 miles (1.7 miles after turning on BoteMountain Trail), hikers will reach the junction of the Appalachian Trail bySpence Field. Turn left here and you’ll be rewarded with some incredible views,which only get better as you head towards Rocky Top. The last 1.2 miles toRocky Top are pretty steep, but well worth the effort.

Hikers will know they’ve reached Rocky Top once they climbup a steep incline and reach a rocky, bald patch. At this point you can seealmost 360 degree panoramic views. Relax and take in the views of thisincredible place!

Read More

Tags

Hiking
Easy Parking
Picnic Area
Romantic
Scenic
Wildflowers

Reviews

Leave a Review

Overall rating: 

Breathtaking

If camping at Cades Cove, this is a hike you should absolutely consider. The views from Spence Field and Rocky Top are simply breathtaking. It is definitely not an easy hike due to all the elevation gain and the distance, but it will be worth it!

over 3 years ago

Smoky Mountains Classic

Rocky Top is one of the best views in Great Smoky Mountains National Park, and is only accessible via backcountry trails, which means you lose the crowds that you'd find at Clingman's Dome or Newfound Gap. The Spence Field AT shelter is just over a mile and a half away, and would make a great place to camp overnight to allow you to enjoy Rocky Top at sunset or sunrise.

Stay Nearby

Townsend, Tennessee

Cades Cove Campground

Overview Over 2 million visitors annually come to enjoy the scenic beauty of Cades Cove and its many historic structures. Popular activities here include hiking, biking, touring the 11-mile Cades C...

Blount County, Tennessee

Cades Cove Group

Overview Over 2 million visitors annually come to enjoy the scenic beauty of Cades Cove and its many historic structures, popular biking and hiking trails and scenic waterfalls and streams. Tucked ...

Townsend, Tennessee

Anthony Creek Horse Camp

Overview Anthony Creek Horse Camp is located near the gently rolling waters of Anthony Creek. Whether blanketed in bright wildflowers in the spring or vivid colors in the fall, the scenery at Antho...

Tallassee, Tennessee

Abram's Creek Campground

Overview Abram's Creek Campground is located in a relatively remote area of Great Smoky Mountain National Park. The secluded setting offers visitors the ability to enjoy a multitude of recreationa...

Nearby Adventures

  • Bike Cade's Cove Loop

    Cade's Cove is a valley located smack in the middle of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Feel free to drive the 11 mile loop in the day, but if you're really cool, you'll schedule your trip around a full moon so you can bike under the light...

  • Hike to Abrams Falls

    Abrams Falls is arguably the most scenic waterfall in Great Smoky Mountains National Park.One of the biggest perks of hiking Abrams Falls is the drive to get there. The trailhead is located approximately 5 miles into the scenic Cades Cove Loop. Ca...

  • Summit Gregory Bald

    The Gregory Bald summit is indisputably picturesque – the 10-acre meadow at the top hosts magnificent azalea blooms in June, wild blueberries in August, and views of Cades Cove, Rich Mountain, Fontana Lake, Thunderhead Mountain, and Clingmans Dome...

    11.3 miles 3020 ft gain

  • Hike Rich Mountain Loop

    Park at the Cades Cover Information Kiosk. The trailhead is just down the road from here. At 4.2 miles you'll arrive at the Rich Mountain Trail junction. Stay to the right here and continue along the Indian Grave Gap Trail. In less than two miles ...

    8.5 miles 1736 ft gain