Discover the Elkmont Troll Bridge While Hiking in the Smokies

July 12, 2021

The Smoky Mountain trails are full of exciting destinations, ranging from historical wonders to breathtaking waterfalls! Hiking in the Smokies is also often like a fairytale journey through the forest where you never know what magical sight you might see around the next bend! For example, did you know that the Elkmont section of the national park is home to a troll bridge? Here is everything you need to know to discovering this whimsical structure while hiking in the Smokies:

History of the Troll Bridge and the Elkmont Community

Buildings in elkmontThe troll bridge is an original structure from the Elkmont community, which first settled in the mid 1800s when homesteaders, hunters, and loggers arrived in the area. By the early 1900s, Elkmont had become the second largest town in the county and was home to a post office, school, hotel, general goods store, church, and residences. When the national park was established, Elkmont’s cottage owners were given lifetime leases that were converted to 20-year leases in 1952. Although these leases were renewed once in 1972, renewal was denied in 1992, and the buildings were scheduled to be torn down. Today, you can still see some of the remains of the structures including the enchanting “troll bridge!”

About the Troll Bridge Structure

While many of Elkmont’s structures have been removed over the years due to safety concerns and other issues, the troll bridge was lucky enough to escape this fate. In fact, state park officials had it cleaned up and fully restored so visitors can enjoy the bridge while hiking in the Smokies! The stone, moss-covered bridge is perfectly sturdy and is a delightful place to take some pictures, so be sure to bring a camera or cell phone along for your adventure! Whether you want to cross the bridge or pose for photos, you will love the quaint beauty of this fairytale bridge!

How to Find the Elkmont Troll Bridge

elkmont nature trail

You can find the Elkmont troll bridge by hiking along the Little River Trail, which is considered a moderate hike at about 5 miles roundtrip. Once you have walked 100 feet into the trail, you will see a small side trail that leads directly to the bridge! To make sure you stay on the right path, simply continue to walk parallel to the beautiful stone walls. When you return to the Little River Trail, be sure to spend some more time exploring the trail as you will pass a lovely stream and several small waterfalls along the path!

What is a Troll Bridge?

You may be wondering what exactly is a troll bridge. The stories of troll bridges have been told many different ways, but the most famous story is the Three Billy Goats Gruff. The basic premise of the story is that there is a troll waiting under the bridge ready to eat careless travelers, and sometimes he may even make you answer a riddle! If you can outsmart or trick the troll, you are safe to cross the bridge! While you won’t find an actual troll living beneath the Elkmont troll bridge, its appearance of an old European bridge makes for a good fairytale!

Now since you know where to find the troll bridge in Elkmont, check out some of the other hidden gems you can discover while hiking in the Smokies!