Everything You Need to Know about Hiking to Gregory Bald
If you love nature and flowers, you do not want to miss the hike to Gregory Bald. While this is one of the more difficult trails in the Smokies, you will quickly learn why it is also one of the most popular hikes for visitors. The amazing mountain view and scenic highlights make this a trail you need to experience. Here is everything you need to know about hiking to Gregory Bald:
Overview of the Hike
In total, the roundtrip distance along the trail is 11.3 miles. According to hiking experts, you will want to give yourself about 6 hours to complete the hike. Along the way, you will experience an elevation gain of more than 3,000 feet, which is why this trail falls under the strenuous category. For those who are interested in completing the hike in two days, Campsite 12 offers overnight camping if you need a place to rest for the evening.
How to Reach the Trailhead
To access Gregory Bald, you will begin in Townsend. From there, you will head west on Laurel Creek Road going towards Cades Cove. About 7.5 miles into the drive, you will reach a parking lot, but continue driving along the one-way loop road. Approximately 13 miles past where you began at the Townsend intersection, the loop road will cut off to the left, turning into Forge Creek Road. You will then get on Parson Branch Road for 2 miles before reaching the trailhead.
Highlights of the Hike
Along the Gregory Ridge Trail, you will see all sorts of gorgeous nature. While the trail is open year round, most people visit during the spring and summer months to see the blooming flowers. Your journey will start off through an old growth forest, where you can see trees that are hundreds of years old. You will also find a creek that is covered with rhododendrons along the banks of the water. Throughout the rest of the hike, you will see a variety of beautiful flowers and trees, and maybe even a few critters back off the path.
As you can probably guess, the prize of this Smoky Mountain hiking trail is getting to Gregory Bald. Whether you are looking to catch the colorful azaleas at peak bloom or just want to have a picture perfect view of the mountains, this is the place to go! If you don’t already know, a bald is an area of flat meadowland that is located along a mountain ridge. This particular bald was formed by Elkmont sandstone. If you look closely, you will find some of the sandstone seeping up through the thick grass in the bald. From the peak, you will be able to see a variety of mountain ranges, including Cades Cove, Rich Mountain, and the Yellow Creek Mountains. Another fun fact about the bald is how it got its name. It is named after Russell Gregory, an early homesteader in the Cades Cove area. He and other settlers used the meadow to graze cattle.
After you have seen the blooming flowers at Gregory Bald, be sure to check out some of the other wildflower hikes in the Smoky Mountains! We hope you enjoy your next adventure in the Smokies!