Great Smoky Mountains National Park: Anthony Creek Trail

I have traveled to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park probably more than anywhere that I have been in this country. It is a wonderful park that’s situated in the southeastern corner of the state of Tennessee. This national park is one of the most visited in the country as it is within a one day drive for around 75% of the U.S. population. I fell in love with it back in the 1980’s and continue to discover its beauty to this day.

The journey today is the Anthony Creek Trail located in the Cades Cove area of Great Smoky Mountains National Park. This area is teaming with wildlife and if you visit from May-Oct you may run into the many black bear that call this meadow home.

The hike is 7.2 miles round trip with an elevation gain of 1,700 feet, not an easy hike but well worth your time. We begin by parking at the Cades Cove picnic area, the trail head is near the back. The first ½ mile or so is fairly open until you reach the horse camp, after passing by the horse camp the trees surround you and bring you deeper into the forest. The trees in this picture are most probably hemlock a common tree in this area. Their foliage is a welcome break from the heat, as you walk deeper along this trail the coolness from the trees and the sound of Anthony Creek will keep you moving forward.

Picture-2-Anthony-Creek-Trail-creek Great Smoky Mountains National Park: Anthony Creek Trail

After a couple crossings of the creek the elevation begins to increase and the trail becomes several switch backs, some short and some fairly long as in this picture.

If you are lucky enough to do this hike in late spring or early summer the wildflowers are incredible!

Picture-3-Anthony-Creek-Trail-creek Great Smoky Mountains National Park: Anthony Creek Trail

This is a mountain Azalea that we came across just off the trail. You will also find partridgeberry’s & mountain laurel along the way.

You will cross Anthony’s creek several times along the way.

Picture-4-Anthony-Creek-Trail-creek Great Smoky Mountains National Park: Anthony Creek Trail

I love to just sit and listen to the water as you climb higher you can look back down to the creek and enjoy the music it creates is this quiet forest.

As the elevation increases the forest fills your view.

Picture-5-Anthony-Creek-Trail-creek Great Smoky Mountains National Park: Anthony Creek Trail

The better views on this trail are at the top but for me just being surround by the beauty of nature is well worth the wait.

After traveling for approximately 2 miles you will come to the junction that will lead you to Bote Mountain.

Picture-6-Anthony-Creek-Trail-creek Great Smoky Mountains National Park: Anthony Creek Trail

The next 1.7 miles will be the steepest of the trail.

Picture-7-Anthony-Creek-Trail-creek Great Smoky Mountains National Park: Anthony Creek Trail

You begin to see some breaks in the trees and occasionally you have views back to Cades Cove.

When you finally reach the top at Spencer’s field the journey is well worth the effort.

Picture-8-Anothny-Creek-Trail-creek Great Smoky Mountains National Park: Anthony Creek Trail

Picture-9-Anthony-Creek-Trail-creek Great Smoky Mountains National Park: Anthony Creek Trail

Take time here to enjoy these beautiful views before you head back down. This trail is meant to be one that you go up and back on the same trail. My wife and I decided to explore another way down. We followed the Appalachian Trail for a bit and then headed down another fork. This was a beautiful diversion from Anthony Creek.

Picture-10-Anthony-Creek-Trail-creek Great Smoky Mountains National Park: Anthony Creek Trail

But it added about 4 miles to the hike as once we reached Laurel Creek road we had approximately a 4 mile walk back to the picnic area.

Great Smoky Mountain national Parks has hundreds of improved trails throughout the park. I urge you to visit this treasure. In the summer months it can be very warm and humid even early in the day. We hiked this in early June and the temperature reached near 90 degrees Fahrenheit or 32 degrees Celsius.

I have discovered that no matter what is going on in my life if I am able to be out in nature all my troubles seem to go away. I hope this passion is evident in everything I write here. Till next time.

Written by Bill Bruner

Bill Bruner has loved the outdoors since he was a child in Cub Scouts. He has hiked all over the US & parts of England. He believes that getting as close as you can to nature fills your soul more than anything else you can do. He has lived in 7 states & just recently bought a house in the mountains of Colorado. In his professional life he has been a loan officer, a bartender, a professional actor & for the past 16 years a tax accountant. He hopes to bring you engaging articles about hikes throughout the US. He’s married to Heidi & has three girls Carrie, Samantha & Andrea & has two Australian cattle dogs, Sydney & Ki Ki.


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  1. Ah! Country roads, take me home… thanks for bringing back the memories – I can smell it and it is GOOD.

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