April 10, 2023
There is a long series of trails running the length of the northwestern boundary to the park from the Sugarlands Park Headquarters to the Townsend Wye. For 21.3 miles, the trails meander along this edge. From Sugarlands, Cove Mountain is an uphill slog, gaining 2,862 ft. in 8.7 miles. The trail ends at a fire tower that is not opened to the public (that now monitors the weather).
The weather on this day was fabulous, the sun shining so brightly in the sky and the views (when presented) were majestic. There were two or three great views along Cove Mountain of Mt. LeConte.
From Cove I descended for less than a mile along Laurel Falls Trail, before taking Little Greenbrier. This trail reminded me a lot of hiking in North Carolina State Park in the eastern part of the state; the trail was very dry, lots of pine trees and limited views.
The highlight of the day was the amazing Roundtop Trail. This is a gnarly hike. The 7.6 mile trek undulates, but there are some sections with as much as a 27% grade. Soon the trail narrows close to the Little River, leaving nothing but a sliver of trail and cliff and rock. The end of the trail is actually difficult to find, as it does not have a sign. It’s a simple (on this day at least) river crossing. It would be trickier to find the beginning of the trail if hiking the other way, and I have pictured the area to begin below. It is located just over the bridge towards Little River Road, to the left of the seasonal closure gate.
Total mileage is 21.3 miles.
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