Meigs Mountain Trail
|Trail Features:||Quiet Forest Hike|
|Roundtrip Length:||4.6 Miles|
|Total Elevation Gain:||661 Feet|
|Avg. Elev Gain / Mile:||287 Feet|
|Highest Elevation:||2744 Feet|
|Trail Difficulty Rating:||5.92 (moderate)|
|Parking Lot Latitude||35.64764|
|Parking Lot Longitude||-83.5832|
Directions to Trailhead:
From the Sugarlands Visitor Center near Gatlinburg, drive 4.9 miles along the Little River Road to the turnoff for the Elkmont Campground, which will be on your left. After turning into Elkmont, drive 1.4 miles until you reach the campground entrance. Instead of proceeding into the campground, turn left and drive another 1.1 miles to the parking area for the Jakes Creek Trailhead at the end of the road. The Jakes Creek Trail will provide access to the Meigs Mountain Trail.
From the Townsend "Y" intersection near Cades Cove, the turnoff for the Elkmont Campground will be 12.6 miles away.
From the parking area, walk through the gate on the left hand side to begin your hike along the Jakes Creek Trail. Hikers will walk along an old gravel road before reaching the Meigs Mountain Trail. At one-third of a mile, the Cucumber Gap Trail will branch off towards the left. Continue by going straight here. A short distance from this junction is the Meigs Mountain Trail, which forks off to the right.
The trail and nearby mountain are named after Colonel Return Jonathan Meigs, a Revolutionary War veteran, surveyor, agent to the Cherokee Nation, and military agent for the United States War Department. Meigs supposedly hung a brightly-colored blanket atop the adjacent mountain, now known as Blanket Mountain, for use as a compass reference point.
At 0.6 miles from the trailhead you’ll reach a footbridge over Jakes Creek that offers a nice view of a two-foot waterfall just upstream from the bridge.
From this point the trail is relatively flat as it meanders along the contours of Blanket Mountain. We noticed a few yellow trillium, violets, and Virginia bluebells along this section of trail. You'll also pass evidence of some of the former inhabitants of this area as well.
This particular hike ends at the remains of an old dam. To get there, the trail descends roughly 200 feet in just one-third of a mile. At the bottom of the hill you'll pass Backcountry Campsite 20, as well as two small creeks. At a third stream, called Blanket Creek, there will be a small dam, which marks the final destination for this hike.
One explanation I've heard for the dam is that it was used to help keep milk and butter cool during the summer months for the settlers in this area. Another explanation is that splash dams were built by loggers to help move logs downstream. There's a large piece of scrap metal near the site which indicates to me that the later explanation might be the correct one.
Hikers do have the option of continuing along the Meigs Mountain Trail to the Curry Mountain Trail junction, roughly 1.3 miles away, or hiking all the way to the end of the trail at the junction with the Meigs Creek Trail and Lumber Ridge Trail, roughly 3.9 miles further west.