Great Smoky Mountains NP: Gregory Bald via Twentymile and Wolf Ridge Trails

For guaranteed solitude in Great Smoky Mountains National Park's southwest reaches, explore this quiet, 15.7-mile loop during the off-season.
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For guaranteed solitude in Great Smoky Mountains National Park's southwest reaches, explore this quiet, 15.7-mile loop during the off-season.

ROUTE: The trip begins at Twentymile Ranger Station parking lot in the southwestern part of Great Smoky Mountains. At mile 3.1, the Twentymile Loop Trail meets the Long Hungry Ridge Trail. At mile 7.6, the Long Hungry Ridge Trail meets Gregory Bald Trail. At mile 8.3, the Gregory Bald Trail summits Gregory Bald. At mile 9.4, the Gregory Bald Trail meets the Wolf Ridge Trail. At mile 15.7, the Wolf Ridge Trail returns to the Twentymile Ranger Station parking lot. Along the way, you'll pass side trails to Twentymile Creek cascades, views of Shuckstack lookout tower (which is visible from Long Hungry Ridge Trail), and cross over Parson Bald.

-Mapped by Charles Bethea

PLAN IT

MAP
>> Trails llustrated Clingmans Dome/Cataloochee/Great Smoky Mountains NP ($10, natgeomaps.com)
>> View a map of the park at the Great Smoky Mountains National Park website.
>> Order the USGS topo quads listed above at store.usgs.gov.
>> Order a custom map of this route at MyTopo.com.

GUIDEBOOK: Hiking Trails of the Smokies ($21, smokiesstore.org) details all 150 maintained trails within the park.

PERMITS: Required when camping at a backcountry campsite or shelter (free, reserve up to one month before your trip and pick up in person). Backcountry reservation office: (865) 436-1231, nps.gov/grsm/planyourvisit/backcountry-camping.htm

POTENTIAL CAMPSITES: #13, #92, #93, #95. Advance reservation is required for Campsite 13 (up to one month before the first day of your trip).

CONDITIONS: Check weather at Gatlinburg, TN (37738) Weather

SEASON: The park is open year-round, and our trail scouts have hiked this route in every season. Check for road, trail, and camping closures at nps.gov/grsm/planyourvisit/temproadclose.htm. Curious about fall foliage? Check nps.gov/grsm/planyourvisit/fallcolor.htm.

PARK INFO: Great Smoky Mountains National Park, (865) 436-1200; nps.gov/grsm

SMOKIES TRIP PLANNER: nps.gov/grsm/planyourvisit/trip-planner.htm

OTHER RESOURCES

GAS
Shell Super Mart
376 Parkway
Gatlinburg, TN 37738
(865) 430-2161

Texaco
799 Tsali Blvd.
Cherokee, NC 28719
(828) 497-4539

GEAR
Nantahala Outdoor Center
13077 Highway 19 W
Bryson City, NC 28713
(888) 905-7238
noc.com

Blackrock Outdoor Co.
570 West Main St.
Sylva, NC
(828) 631-4453

Mast General Store
63 N. Main St.
Waynesville, NC 28786
(828) 452-2101
mastgeneralstore.com

Smoky Mountain Outfitters
469 Brookside Village Way
Gatlinburg, TN
(865) 430-2267

GROCERIES
Food City
1219 East Parkway
Gatlinburg, TN 37738
(865) 430-3116

Bearland General Store
305 Historic Nature Trail
Gatlinburg, TN
(865) 436-4565

Bradley's Grocery‎
1699 Paint Town Rd.
Cherokee, NC 28719
(828) 497-9132

RESTAURANTS
Smoky Mountain Brewery
1004 Parkway # 501
Gatlinburg, TN 37738
coppercellar.com/Restaurant-SmokyMountainBrewery.html

Best Italian Cafe & Pizzeria
968 Parkway # 9
Gatlinburg, TN 37738
(865) 430-4090 ‎
bestitalian.com

Granny's Kitchen
1098 Paint Town Rd.
Cherokee, NC 28719
(828) 497-5010

Peter's Pancakes and Waffles
1384 Tsali Blvd.
Cherokee, NC
(828) 497-5116

Trail Facts

  • Distance: 25.3

Waypoints

GRG001

Location: 35.46718, -83.876844

Parking lot: The ranger station is nearby if you need any water, toilet paper, or final advice before setting out.

GRG002

Location: 35.467399, -83.87678

Pick up Twentymile Trail and follow it along Twentymile Creek.

GRG003

Location: 35.471964, -83.87075

Turn right at 3-way junction to begin the counterclockwise loop.

GRG004

Location: 35.470121, -83.866062

Cross a bridge.

GRG005

Location: 35.473331, -83.853085

Bridge crossing

GRG006

Location: 35.473113, -83.851948

Bridge crossing

GRG007

Location: 35.473483, -83.851979

Campsite 93: About 20 yards to the left of Twentymile Trail, beside Twentymile Creek, this campsite has bear cables and a fire ring nearby.

GRG008

Location: 35.480374, -83.845307

Bridge crossing

GRG009

Location: 35.484889, -83.836922

Bear left at Y-junction onto Long Hungry Ridge Trail (mile 3.1). Twentymile Trail continues to the right, climbing to Twentymile Ridge.

GRG010

Location: 35.486249, -83.83637

Rock hop across the unbridged crossing of Twentymile Creek.

GRG011

Location: 35.494412, -83.834138

Slippery stream crossing. The crossing here can be tricky. Head off the trail about 10 yards and look for a few logs to cross.

GRG012

Location: 35.496439, -83.832829

Slippery log crossing

GRG013

Location: 35.499793, -83.834138

Use caution crossing the creek. It can be deep and fast-moving after rain.

GRG014

Location: 35.50878, -83.842689

Creek crossing

GRG015

Location: 35.510125, -83.849561

A relatively steep climb leads to Long Hungry Ridge, a remote ridge where bears are sometimes seen.

GRG016

Location: 35.520316, -83.853235

Turn left onto Gregory Bald Trail.

GRG017

Location: 35.520938, -83.863349

Emerge from forest the forest onto Gregory Bald.

GRG018

Location: 35.52082, -83.864899

Photo op: To the south you'll see Lake Cheoh and Fontana Lake. To the north and northeast, Cades Cove and the lights of Gatlinburg.

GRG019

Location: 35.520487, -83.866282

Gregory Bald (4,949 ft.): This open summit is labeled with a USGS marker.

GRG020

Location: 35.520931, -83.873084

Campsite 13: This high-elevation site, under a stand of firs and out of the wind, is seldom used. Water is a few tenths of a mile down a side trail.

GRG021

Location: 35.51588, -83.883061

Wolf Ridge Trail: After passing the summit of Parson Bald, on the way down from Gregory, continue onto Wolf Ridge Trail. As you descend, watch for evidence of hogs rooting around on the forest floor.

GRG022

Location: 35.494569, -83.871238

Creek crossing

GRG023

Location: 35.490286, -83.880561

Campsite 95: A good spot for a final night of camping beside the creek, if you'd like to delay ending the trip.

GRG024

Location: 35.489258, -83.878931

The trail traces Dalton Branch.

GRG025

Location: 35.48604, -83.868221

Bear right at the junction with Twentymile Loop Trail. Continue on Wolf Ridge Trail.

GRG026

Location: 35.485135, -83.86905

Cross a series of log bridges.

GRG027

Location: 35.482318, -83.868743

Cross log bridge #2.

GRG028

Location: 35.478751, -83.868727

Cross log bridge #3.

GRG029

Location: 35.477167, -83.868623

Cross log bridge #4.

GRG030

Location: 35.476184, -83.869184

Cross log bridge #5.

GRG031

Location: 35.474978, -83.870342

Waterfall

GRG032

Location: 35.472589, -83.870678

Big rock overhang: Perfect place to wait out sudden bad weather, alongside Twentymile Creek. Ahead: Continue straight at the 3-way junction and retrace route back to the parking lot.

Salamander

Location: 35.493277, -83.835123

Look along the trail, near water, for little orange-colored salamanders.

Campsite 93

Location: 35.473551, -83.851772

Bear Bag

Location: 35.473665, -83.851523

Bridge Crossing

Location: 35.473132, -83.851581

Twentymile Creek

Location: 35.499806, -83.833843

View from Long Hungry Ridge Trail

Location: 35.510671, -83.847012

Approaching Gregory Bald

Location: 35.52084, -83.864437

View from Gregory Bald

Location: 35.520563, -83.865849

Snowy Tracks

Location: 35.520905, -83.860537

Campsite 13

Location: 35.520948, -83.872764

Descent from Campsite 13

Location: 35.519616, -83.875341