Hiking the Elkmont Nature Trail in the Smoky Mountains

November 17, 2022

If you’re searching for a simple and easy hike for your young kids, older adults, or anyone else who can’t handle more difficult trails, then Elkmont Nature Trail is the perfect trail for you! People of all ages and abilities will enjoy this beautiful, short walk through the woods, because it really does show how beautiful the Smokies can be! Learn more about this hike now:

Round Trip Length 0.8 Miles
Elevation Gain  95 Feet
Trail Highlights Foliage, creek


To get to the trailhead for the Elkmont Nature Trail, you’ll drive along US 441 from downtown Gatlinburg into the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Then, you’ll turn right onto Little River Gorge Road. This road turns into Fighting Creek Gap Road. After 4.9 miles, you’ll turn left onto Elkmont Road. When you come to the Elkmont Campground, keep left to stay on Elkmont Road. Drive about 0.3 of a mile until you reach a parking lot. This is where the trailhead is, and you’ll know you’re in the right place because at the beginning of the trail, there’s a plaque explaining wildlife you might see and history of the area.

Trail Description

footbridge crossing over a creek in the great smoky mountainsWhen you first step onto the trail, you’ll take an immediate right towards the creek. Just a few feet in front of you is a small footbridge that takes you over the creek. The bridge does have a handrail to keep you steady as you pass over the water. As you continue through the woods, you’ll be surrounded by trees and all kinds of native foliage.

There are plenty of logs, and you might just see some unique looking mushrooms growing on them that would be cool to show the kids! As you continue along the path, you’ll see wooden signs with white arrows on them showing you the correct way to follow the path. In the spring, you’ll see a ton of wildflowers in the area! There’s mostly laurel and pine trees, creating a beautiful canopy. It takes about 20 minutes to complete the entire Elkmont Nature Trail.

Elkmont Area

building in elkmontAs you can probably tell from the name, this trail is located in the Elkmont area. When people first started coming to the area, Elkmont was a logging town, and this particular trail was used to move logs. This is a popular area to visit because of the historic buildings you can see, like in the Elkmont Ghost Town. This area was an old logging campsite that turned into a vacation destination for the rich with a lodge and community club. Once the national park was established, people either sold their land or were given a lifetime lease, and once those were up, the park took the land. This area was going to be torn down until the Register of Historic Places named the ghost town a place that should be preserved. The National Park Service has left the cottages and community buildings alone and have even restored some of them.

Now you know what to expect if you decide to hike the Elkmont Nature Trail! Want to know about some other cool things you can see in the area? Find out more about the Elkmont Troll Bridge and how to get there!