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best easy hikes smoky mountains
Best Easy Day Hikes
covers 22 hikes in the Smokies, including "Quiet Walkways," self-guided nature trails, and recommendations based on best views, nature lovers, history hikes, waterfalls, etc.

Meigs Mountain Trail

Trail Features: Quiet Forest Hike, History meigs mountain trail
Trail Location: Elkmont
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 west 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 to reach the campground entrance. Instead of proceeding into the campground, turn left and drive another 0.8 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.

Trail Description:

david-chapman-home-elkmontFrom the parking area, walk through the gate on the far end of the road to begin your hike along the Jakes Creek Trail. From the trailhead you'll begin passing several old cottages. Most of these resort cottages were built in the 1920s, and were used as summer homes by the affluent from Knoxville. As of this writing the homes are in major disrepair and are off limits to the public. However, in the fall of 2008, National Park crews completed emergency stabilization to 18 of the historic cabins, as well as the Appalachian Clubhouse. The park plans to fully restore all 19 structures so that they can be opened and viewed by the public. As part of the first phase of the Elkmont restoration project, the National Park Service reopened the old Appalachian Clubhouse for public rental in June of 2011.

At this time there's no indication when this project will be completed. Additionally, the park plans on removing the other 55 buildings in the area and returning those sites to their natural habitats.

After walking one-third of a mile along the old gravel road, the Cucumber Gap Trail will branch off towards the left. Hikers should continue by proceeding straight ahead here. A short distance from this junction is the Meigs Mountain Trail, which forks off to the right.

remainsThe 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 reportedly hung a bright-colored blanket atop a mountain towards the south, now known as Blanket Mountain, for use as a compass reference point.

At roughly six-tenths of a mile from the trailhead hikers will reach Jakes Creek. Just upstream from the footbridge is a small waterfall.

From this point the trail travels over relatively flat terrain as it meanders along the contours of Blanket Mountain. During our most recent hike we noticed quite 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.

damThis particular hike ends at the remains of an old dam. Before reaching it, the trail descends roughly 200 feet in just one-third of a mile. At the bottom of the hill you'll pass by Backcountry Campsite 20, as well as two small streams. At a third stream, known as 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 will have the option of continuing along the Meigs Mountain Trail for another 1.3 miles to reach the Curry Mountain Trail junction; 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 to the west.