old sugarlands trail

Old Sugarlands Trail: Step Back in Time

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The Old Sugarlands Trail is a popular hike in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. It offers visitors a chance to experience the natural beauty of the park, with stunning views of the surrounding mountains and valleys. In this guide, we’ll provide you with all the information you need to know before you hit the trail.

Overview Old Sugarlands Trail

The Old Sugarlands Trail is a 3.7-mile out-and-back trail that starts at the Sugarlands Visitor Center and ends at the John Ownby Cabin. The trail is rated as moderate, with an elevation gain of 871 feet. The trail is open year-round, but it’s best to visit in the spring or fall when the weather is mild.

Old Sugarlands Trail Trailhead and Parking

The trailhead for the Old Sugarlands Trail is located at the Sugarlands Visitor Center, which is located just two miles south of Gatlinburg on Newfound Gap Road. There is plenty of parking available at the visitor center, but it can fill up quickly during peak season. We recommend arriving early in the morning or later in the afternoon to avoid the crowds.

Old Sugarlands Trail
Creator: Judy Baxter 

Old Sugarlands Trail Highlights:

Old Growth Forest and Serene Atmosphere

The Old Sugarlands Trail winds through an enchanting old-growth forest, showcasing some of the oldest and largest trees in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Towering hemlocks, tulip poplars, and oaks, which have stood for centuries, create a majestic backdrop. The forest floor is adorned with a lush carpet of ferns, mosses, and wildflowers, providing a peaceful and serene atmosphere for a leisurely hike.

Streams, Waterfalls, and Aquatic Life

Along the trail, hikers will encounter several refreshing streams that offer a pleasant respite. These streams are teeming with a diverse array of aquatic life, including salamanders, trout, and crayfish. Lucky adventurers may even stumble upon a few small waterfalls, adding an extra touch of natural beauty to the journey.

John Ownby Cabin

Undoubtedly the highlight of the Old Sugarlands Trail, the historic John Ownby Cabin awaits hikers at the end of the trail. This captivating cabin was constructed in the late 1800s and provides a fascinating glimpse into the past. Crafted from hand-hewn logs, it features a charming stone chimney and a sturdy metal roof. Visitors can explore the cabin and immerse themselves in the history and stories of the family who once called it home.

Abundant Wildlife

Nature enthusiasts will relish the opportunity to encounter a diverse range of wildlife along the Old Sugarlands Trail. The park is home to black bears, deer, coyotes, and a multitude of bird species. Spotting these fascinating creatures adds an extra thrill to the hike and creates a memorable experience for wildlife lovers.

Old Sugarlands Trail - Smoky Mountains National Park

Old Sugarlands Trail Difficulty

The Old Sugarlands Trail is rated as moderate, with an elevation gain of 871 feet. The trail is well-maintained, but there are several steep sections and rocky areas that can be challenging. We recommend wearing sturdy hiking boots and bringing plenty of water.

Trail Safety

As with any hike, it’s important to take safety precautions while on the Old Sugarlands Trail. Here are a few tips to keep in mind:

  • Stay on the trail: The trail is well-marked, so it’s important to stay on the designated path to avoid getting lost.
  • Be aware of wildlife: The Great Smoky Mountains National Park is home to a variety of wildlife, including black bears. Be sure to carry bear spray and make noise to avoid surprising any animals.
  • Pack out your trash: The park has a “pack it in, pack it out” policy, so be sure to bring a trash bag and carry out all of your trash.

Conclusion

The Old Sugarlands Trail is a beautiful hike in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. It offers visitors a chance to experience the natural beauty of the park, with stunning views of the surrounding mountains and valleys. We hope that this guide has provided you with all the information you need to know before hitting the trail. Be sure to wear sturdy hiking boots, bring plenty of water, and take safety precautions while on the trail. Happy hiking!

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