Mount Sterling Road

Great Smoky Mountains National Park, North Carolina
Elevation Gain1,464ft
Trailhead Elevation2,946ft
Elevation Min/Max1999/2946ft
Elevation Start/End2946/2946ft

Mount Sterling Road

Mount Sterling Road is a hiking, biking, and horse trail in Haywood County, North Carolina. It is within Great Smoky Mountains National Park. It is 2.7 miles long and begins at 2,946 feet altitude. Traveling the entire trail is 5.5 miles with a total elevation gain of 1,464 feet. The Ivy Gap saddle can be seen along the trail.
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Minneapolis, MN
Explorer | 30 pts
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The long and brutal hike up to the top was so worth it. We started at Big Creek and came up Baxter Creek Trail, 6.2 miles of brutal up-hill climbing. The fire/overlook tower at the top provided stunning views. There were plenty of campsites at the top with cables to hang our packs and food bags. We had the place to ourselves on a Monday night. Highly recommend this hike - but it's strenuous.
Knoxville, TN
Explorer | 30 pts
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Two of us decided to take a week-end hike and were unable to find reservations at many of the backcountry sites in the smokies so when we were finally able to get a reservation at campsite #47 we thought we'd give it a try. Most of the reviews I had read said this trail was one of the muddiest in the entire park so lucky for us we were hiking up after a very dry part of the season. Other then a couple of spots there wasn't much mud, but this is a horse trail at parts so be careful where you step. We camped the first night at campsite #48 and although it was an alright site with a ton of firewood to be found, campsite #47 was the real jewel. Next time I would opt to do the entire hike up to #47 in one day and spend the entire week-end there. We also decided to come back out the way we went in avoinding the 10 miles on the last day. Like I was saying, #47 is a great campsite. It sits right on the creek so if you are like me and like exploring up and down full flowing creeks, this is your place. One thing I will say is get there early enough to find wood. We did pass a bear about 50 yards off the trail on the way in, so trying to find firewood at night can be a bit scary, and rather difficult. We ate lunch literally in the middle of the creek which was cool and I would say there is plenty of fish to be caught up and down the stream.

Another plus is if you are like me and my friends who like to come up after work on a friday and stay the week-end, you can come in late and stay at campsite #50 which is about a mile into the hike, and then go all the way to #47, but be warned it is pretty steep up and back down the other side.

Del Rio, TN
Adventurer | 201 pts
3 out of 5 stars3 out of 5 stars3 out of 5 stars3 out of 5 stars3 out of 5 stars
The first mile of this trail was the easiest with the remainder of the trail being a constant steep incline, rock covered trail, with the exception of some flat areas near the top that were up and down. I would rate this trail moderate to strenuous. We went 10/2/07 and beacuse of the drought any water was all but dried up. For the most part this trail was boring. With out a doubt the view from the tower was spectacular but this was the only redeeming quality of this trail.

Mount Sterling Road Professional Guides

Detailed Trail Descriptions from Our Guidebooks

"This steep trail starts high and get higher, as it enters spruce, fir forest, culminating atop 5,842-foot Mount Sterling. A fire tower stands atop the mountain, where those who climb its heights are rewarded with an eye-popping 360-degree view of the Smoky Mountains and beyond. Anytime the skies are clear is a good time to go to Mount Sterling, with its fire tower affording a 360-degree view. Winter can be windy and snowy. Also, Old NC 284 can be closed during inclement weather. Spring has clear periods. Summer can be hazy and stormy. Autumn is a great time, with clear skies and fall colors." Read more
"This Great Smoky Mountains National Park hike begins at high and historic Mount Sterling Gap, then climbs higher to enter the rare spruce fir forest that cloaks only the highest mantles of the Southern Appalachians. The ascent tops out at 5,842-foot Mount Sterling, where a preserved metal fire tower delivers unparalleled 360-degree views of the Smokies in the near and range after range in North Carolina and Tennessee." Read more
"At 5,842 feet, the top of Mount Sterling is adorned with one of only two original fire towers that hikers can climb to capture panoramas above the treetops. And the views from the spruce–fir high country of Sterling are limited only by the weather. The hike begins at Mount Sterling Gap and follows a short but sloping old jeep road to Mount Sterling Ridge and the high country. From the ridgetop, a short climb takes you to the tower." Read more
"Start this trip at Big Creek Ranger Station (an out-of-the-way yet easily accessible departure point) for a trip along Big Creek and into the high country. Follow an old road on a gentle grade to Walnut Bottoms. Camp where several streams come together to provide ample fishing opportunities for those inclined to drop a line. Then climb the rigorous Swallow Fork Trail to the high country on Mount Sterling Ridge. Some pleasant ridge walking leads to Mount Sterling and your second night’s destination, at the highest unsheltered backcountry campsite in the park. Pass through old-growth forest on your descent along Baxter Creek Trail and back to Big Creek, where the loop ends." Read more

Trail Information

Great Smoky Mountains National Park
Nearby City
Great Smoky Mountains National Park
Additional Use
Great Smoky Mountains National Park, 107 Park Headquarters Rd., Gatlinburg, TN 37738, (865) 436-1200,
Local Contacts
Great Smoky Mountains National Park; USGS Cove Creek Gap
Local Maps