Little River Trail

Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Tennessee 37864

Distance6.2mi
Elevation Gain1,356ft
Trailhead Elevation2,170ft
Top3,377ft
Elevation Min/Max2170/3377ft
Elevation Start/End2170/2170ft

Little River Trail

Little River Trail is a hiking trail in Sevier County, Tennessee. It is within Great Smoky Mountains National Park. It is 6.2 miles long and begins at 2,170 feet altitude. Traveling the entire trail is 12.3 miles with a total elevation gain of 1,356 feet. Near the trailhead there is parking. The 24 (elevation 2,854 feet) camp site can be seen along the trail. The trail ends near the 30 (elevation 2,562 feet) camp site. This trail connects with the following: Huskey Gap Trail, Cucumber Gap Trail, Goshen Prong Trail and Rough Creek Trail.

Little River Trail Professional Reviews and Guides

"On this hike you can devote half an hour, half a day, or half a week if you choose to camp. You can amble along the flat trail as far as you like, and when you’ve had enough, turn around and amble back. It’s a creek walk, a forest walk, and a history lesson all in one.

During early April you’ll see dwarf irises, trilliums, and numerous other wildflowers. During October Little River Trail becomes a riot of color and is one of the finer autumn forest walks in the Smokies. At any time of year—from a half hour before sunrise until a half hour after sunset—you can dip a fly into the river and try your hand at the large brown and rainbow trout."

"Followed by highway for much of its length, this is nonetheless one fine trout stream. The Little River is, perhaps, the quintessential Smoky Mountain trout stream. But it is more than a single river.

The largest fork, or “prong” in mountain parlance, is the East which draws its waters from the flanks of a quartet of 6,000-foot-plus mountains along the Old Smoky’s backbone. But so too does the Middle Prong which passes through the environmental center at Tremont, and the West Prong which rises on ridges named “Defeat” and “Doghobble” on the slopes of Thunderhead. Yet, when most Tennessee and Tar Heel anglers talk about the Little River, they mean the East Prong, and that’s the one that gets most of the attention. Species: Brown, rainbow. Angling methods: spin, and fly-fishing."

"This overnight loop follows the Little River deep into the heart of the Smokies, where you will camp in the shadow of Clingmans Dome. Then you’ll ascend Sugarland Mountain via Rough Creek Trail and camp in a boulder field at the little-used Medicine Branch Bluff campsite. This trip offers creekside and ridgeline camping with a fair amount of climbing in between.

On this hike, four stars indicate that scenery will be picturesque, it will be a relatively easy climb (five stars for difficulty would be strenuous), the trail conditions are average (one star and the trail is likely to be muddy, narrow, or have some obstacle), you can expect to run into few if any people (with one star you’ll likely be elbowing your way up the trail) and the hike is appropriate for able-bodied children (a one-star rating would denote that only the most
gung-ho and physically fit children should go)."

Little River Trail Reviews

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4/15/2012
I did this trail as part of a guided tour hosted by "A Walk in the Woods." Do this in the order it suggests. You definitely want to come down Snake Dens Trail. The highlight was the Albright Loop Trail and seeing the large tulip trees described in the review. Camp site #29 is a bit rocky, and small, so make sure to get your reservations.
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9/5/2009
I did this in reverse based on the back country's recommendation. I would not recommend that to anyone, especially a novice. We hiked to #29 the first day (roughly 10 miles) not bad except it was uphill 95% of the time. It made for a long day. We did not see anything but the trail because everytime we looked up someone would roll and ankle. We hiked out the second day (another 11 miles) because we were miserable. Hope you have a better experience than I did. Happy hiking!
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8/29/2009
This is a lovely loop. We hiked days one and two in one long day and stayed at campsite 29. Lots of lush green forest, beautiful streams and solitude. I can't say enough about how beautiful the trees, moss covered rocky streams and wildflowers were along this trail! Campsite 29 was right beside the Otter Creek and the sound of rushing water made for a soothing nights sleep. Other than that the campsite was just ok. The ascents were well engineered to be gradual climbs rather than steep, so the hiking with backpacks wasn't overwhelmingly difficult. I can't wait to explore more of the Great Smoky Mtn NP!
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7/30/2009
The trail was easy, wide, flat and had great access to the river which was key since my husband and I hiked in for the fly fishing. The river was high and fishing wasn't great, but it was beautiful.
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7/14/2008
Just as the author stated...This is one of the best hikes in the Smokeys! Its a Moderate hike for an avid hiker, however it will be a tougher hike if out of shape or limited hiking skills. Its uphill for about 13 of the 17.8 miles. Site #34 is awsome and well maintained, #29 is nice but rocky and LOTS of mice at night! Wood is hard to find and damp at the sites, bring your firesticks. The scenery is the best. Dont pass up on the Allbright loop!
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5/5/2007
I read some great reviews of this hike, so that's why I picked it. I was looking for great views...There were a few spots that had great views, but definitely less than I had expected, especially for the workout. The trail was great, with some amazing old growth forest (huge trees!). I can't imagine how awesome the hike would be during bloom season of the rhododendrons (they were everywhere). We made use of 2 swimming holes along the way. The views from the top of the bald were not as expected. There were 2 decent views on the bald, but it never really opens up like you would expect from a "bald". The two viewpoints we found, we actually had to be looking intently for, as we found some overgrown side trails to a rock you could climb up on to get above the brush and shrubbery at the top. Our group loved the hike. Great workout, great forest, decent campsites. Only downer was the less than expected view payoffs.
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2/28/2007
This a wonderful 2 night loop that is worth every moment. Many views of ever flowing creeks, waterfalls and gigantic trees. I thought the times listed on the trail review were fairly accurate. We managed to get to each campground about a half hour to an hour ahead of schedule. Be sure to bring your rain gear because you cross many large creeks. In fact some are much more difficult than others. The first day is an absolute brees so dont worry about getting to the trailhead at dawn. The second day you will go from 1800 feet to 5800 ft in about 4 hours so break camp early so you can relax your legs for the last day. Campgrounds are clearly marked and well maintained and the forrest service has just installed new food cables so dont worry about bringing a bear box. No bears seen on this trip. Well worth the effort. A must see in the most beautiful part of park.
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3/18/2006
During this hike you will enjoy some awe inspiring views of beautiful creeks, falls and giant trees. The first day on the Gabes Mountain Trail is somewhat strenuous, but the terrain evens out for a good bit before site #34. Camp near the stream then get up early for a very hard day 2. The second portion of the Gabes Mountain Trail and Maddron Bald Trail to site 29 is all up hill with no breaks. Plan for a good 4 hour or more trek. Make sure to stop at the side trail .5 miles before site #29. This short trail through the brush emerges at a rock outcrop that allows for incredible views. Campsite 29 is fairly rocky, so you are in luck if you have a free standing tent. We started out the last day very early. It started snowing on us as we climbed toward the Bald and up toward Snake Den Ridge Trail. This is the high point of the trip. From here the trip is all downhill. Very downhill. This part is fast going, but very tiring. Overall, it is a very enjoyable hike with some very beautiful scenery. Just plan to hike uphill all of the second day.
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10/11/2005
This trail is great even if there is a tropical storm parked over the Smokies. Beautiful old growth forest and outstanding vistas...definately worth the trip. The campsites were really nice as well.
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10/9/2005
My friend and I just got back from this trip. While the description of the scenery and features were very accurate, the time estimates for hiking this extremely(!) strenuous trail were not. We're both experienced hikers and in pretty good shape. At one mile per hour, which is OK for hard uphill hikes, you're looking at between 3 and six hours to make it from 34 to 29 -- the first and second destinations of the hike. We saw people that had camped on the side of the trail (a big no-no) because they simply ran out of daylight before they could make it to the second site. I would strongly recommend that times posted in the guide books be updated for this admittedly beautiful walk. And be careful. Be sure to break the first night's camp EARLY!!!! or you will not make it to the second site.
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Little River Trail Photos

Trail Information

Great Smoky Mountains National Park
Nearby City
Great Smoky Mountains National Park
Parks
Stroller/Wheelchair Accessible
Accessibility
Wildflowers
Features
Gatlinburg and Silers Bald USGS quads; Trails Illustrated #229 Great Smoky Mountains; Trails Illustrated #317 Clingmans Dome Cataloochee (upper portion only); Trails Illustrated #316 Cades Cove Elkmont
Local Maps

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Jul 2018