Lead Cove Trail, West Prong Trail, Schoolhouse Gap Trail, Turkeypen Ridge Trail

February 13, 2023

This is the day that I fell in love with the Smoky’s. The week had been frigid, and I was quite limited in my hiking because of snow and ice. I took Lead Cove Trail, up Bote Mountain Trail until Anthony Creek, then Bote Mountain and West Prong Trail, down Bote to Schoolhouse Gap Trail and finishing the weird loop via Turkeypen Ridge Trail. 

The hike up Lead Cove was the most difficult of the day. There are definite hints of Low Gap Trail, as it is quite steep. Around 3,000 ft. I encountered some snow, which became heavier ascending up towards Anthony Creek and the Appalachian Trail. The views from the ridge were tremendous, snow and ice glittering against the green, evergreen foliage and the bright sunlight. 

West Prong is a phenomenal trail, and campsite #18 was a nice location. In the winter, it might be too damp and cold for camping, but in the summer, you could wade in the creek and the brisk sounds of West Prong would be delightful to fall asleep with in the background. 

The descent down Bote was nice and easy, as was the 2-mile ascent up Schoolhouse. Scott Mountain Trail is currently closed (and has been closed for quite some time) due to storm damage. The end of the hike was a nice jaunt up Turkeypen Ridge, which was not too difficult. The foliage on Turkeypen was nice, even in winter. I imagine this area is beyond gorgeous in the spring.

Total mileage is 20.5 miles.

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