Thursday, January 7, 2010

Smokemont Loop / West Prong Trail

The Smokemont Loop and West Prong Trails are a couple of excellent choices if you're looking to get off the beaten path. Although you won't find complete solitude on either of these trails, you definitely won't find the crowds you normally find on many of the other trails in the park.

The Smokemont Loop is just north of the Oconaluftee Visitor Center, and the West Prong Trail is located near the Great Smoky Mountains Institute at Tremont (near Townsend).

Near the trailhead of the Smokemont Loop is the Lufty Baptist Church (another sign near the trailhead also calls it the Smokemont Baptist Church - a little confusing):

The Smokemont Loop Trail crosses over Bradley Fork via one of the longest footbridges in the park:

New growth hardwoods grow in near uniformity in this hollow:

One of the highlights of the West Prong Trail is actually crossing the West Prong of the Little River, roughly two miles into the hike. In this same location is Backcountry Campsite 18. There are three sites here, which make for an awesome setting to spend a night or two. This is also a great place for a picnic lunch:

Final Shot: As we were leaving, we just happened to notice this Great Blue Heron sitting on a rock in the middle of the Little River near the park boundary at Townsend. Interestingly, the Discover Life in America website states that "The Great Blue Heron is an uncommon year-round resident bird species in the Park".

For more in-depth information on hiking the Smokemont Loop, please click here.

For more information on the West Prong Trail, please click here.

Jeff Detailed information on trails in the Smoky Mountains; includes trail descriptions, key features, pictures, video, maps, elevation profiles, news, hiking gear store, and more.


R and R said...

Great trout fishing in both of those spots as well.

The Smoky Mountain Hiker said...

For blue herons? :)

Susan Tidwell said...

Beautiful area of the Smokies. I posted about this area today and linked to some of your trail descriptions, thanks!