Thunderhead Mountain

Location: Tennessee
Trip Starts: Elkmont
Trip Ends: Laurel Creek Road
Total Distance: 31.9 miles
Hike Type: One-Way, Shuttle Hike
Hike Difficulty: Difficult
Trails Used: Little River, Goshen Prong, Appalachian, Bote Mountain Trails
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


Great Smoky Mountains National Park encompasses 800 square miles of land and 95 percent of it is forested. In the park, the Appalachian Trail follows the ridges between the states of North Carolina and Tennessee, and it crosses the highest point on the entire Trail at Clingmans Dome at 6,643 feet. The Smokies get more annual visitors than any other National Park in the U.S., but surprisingly most people never see the backcountry which has some of the most pristine wilderness in the Southeast.

This challenging hike on the Tennessee side of the Great Smoky Mountain National Park starts at the old sawmill town of Elkmont which was kept busy by the Little River Lumber Company in the early 1900’s. After a long and nearly 4000′ climb along the Little River and Goshen Prong Trails, the route reaches the A.T. and follows it heading west along the ridge of the Smoky Mountains hugging the TN/NC border. At Spence Field, the route turns back to the north and descends rapidly into Tennessee over seven miles to Laurel Creek Road. There are spectacular views from Thunderhead Mountain and Rocky Top on this route, and nice rest stops at the newly remodeled shelters of Spence Field and Silers Bald.

GPS Coordinates:

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