Hiking the Grapeyard Ridge Trail in the Smoky Mountains

December 03, 2018

Take a hike into the Smoky Mountains and you are sure to find some beautiful views and some interesting Appalachian history. From cascading waterfalls to historic churches and cabins there’s a lot to see, but what if you could see history from the railroad that was once inside the national park? You can if you take a hike down the Grapeyard Ridge Trail in the Smoky Mountains! Keep reading to learn about what to expect along this trail.


Round Trip Length 5.8 Miles
Elevation Gain 980 Feet
Trail Highlights Historic site, Old forest growth

Trailhead:bridge in greenbrier in the smoky mountains

From traffic light number 3 travel eastbound on highway 321 for 6 miles. You will see the sign for Greenbrier on the right, turn there. From the highway drive 3 miles to reach the trailhead for Grapeyard Ridge Trail. The parking area is small, and is alongside the road.

Trail Description:

The Grapeyard Ridge Trail is around 5.8 miles roundtrip. The trail travels between Greenbrier Road and Roaring Fork Road. This trail is considered moderate in difficulty, and very manageable in terrain compared to other trails in the park. The hike begins on a steep incline, but shortly after becomes a more moderate climb with short periods of levelness. On this trail you won’t have to worry about watching every step you make. This trail is not as rocky and rooted like other hikes in the national park.

Grapeyard Trail Ridge crosses back and forth through Rhododendron Creek. Be aware that you may want to wear waterproof shoes as you can’t always rely on stepping stones to get across the creek. When you travel through Rhododendron Creek you’ll easily see how it gots it name! It’s from the tunnels these plants form along the trail and creek.

At 2.85 miles you will reach the top of your second large incline of the trail. Don’t give up here! Make the trek back down the hill and you will finally come across the old wreck and steam engine. The steam engine marks the end of this trail.

steam engine wheelFacts About the Wreck:

– Supposedly, the steam engine wrecked because the man driving was “drunk” and drove off the side of a cliff in the 1920s. The engine rolled down the mountainside and eventually landed in the creek where it has remained to this day.

– “Injun Creek” is the name of the creek the wreck rests in. It’s said that the name comes from the surveyor who misspelled engine.

– The steam engine wreckage was been in the creek for almost 100 years and has very little rust!

There’s nothing like uncovering new, old parts of history in the Smokies! Fortunately, the Grapeyard Ridge Trail in the Smoky Mountains is a very unique and interesting place to explore. If you love history, we suggest hiking the Porter’s Creek Trail to see more historic cabins and buildings. If you want to see some of the beautiful vistas and waterfalls that the Smokies have to offer, Laurel Falls Trail is a great option!