Location: North Carolina
Trip Starts: Nellie Trailhead
Trip Ends: Rough Fork Trailhead
Total Distance: 30.82 miles
Hike Type: One-Way, Shuttle Hike
Hike Difficulty: Difficult
Trails Used: Pretty Hollow Gap Trail, Mount Sterling Ridge Trail, Balsam Mountain Trail, Balsam Mountain Road, Rough Fork Trail
Trail Traffic: Moderate
Trip Type: Day or Overnight
More Information:

Great Smoky Mountains National Park
107 Park Headquarters Road
Gatlinburg, TN 37738
(865) 436-1200


This loop hike starts at the Pretty Hollow Gap trailhead 1.3 miles from the end of the Cataloochee Road at a site called Nellie (near a restored early 1900’s schoolhouse). The route climbs the Pretty Hollow Gap trail to the Mount Sterling Ridge and follows this trail east toward Laurel Gap Shelter. Here it picks up the Balsam Mountain Trail and follows it down to the Balsam Mountain Road for a lengthy road walk to the Balsam Mountain Campground (since the Polls Gap Trail is temporarily closed.) From the Campground, the route descends to Polls Gap and picks up the Rough Fork Trail that descends back to the terminus of the Cataloochee Road and wide open area that occasionally has elk or wild turkeys wandering in the field. In the last few miles of this thirty mile route, there are some historic homesteads (including the S.L. Woody house which sits on Rough Fork Creek).

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