• Activities:

    Photography, Hiking, Fitness

  • Skill Level:

    Intermediate

  • Season:

    Spring, Summer, Autumn

  • Trail Type:

    Out-and-Back

  • RT Distance:

    6.8 Miles

  • Elevation Gain:

    1500 Feet

Family Friendly
Forest
Scenic
Wildflowers
Wildlife

This moderate hike transports you into some of the most remote old-growth forest left on the east coast. Solitude is almost guaranteed for the traveler weary of overcrowded trails and parking lots. In spring, it is among the best trails for wildflower viewing. 

Hidden in the eastern reaches of Great Smoky Mountains National Park, the Cosby region receives a fraction of the visitation of Gatlinburg or Cherokee. This section of the park preserves some of the best deciduous old-growth forest in the eastern United States. Individual tulip trees and eastern hemlocks reach monstrous proportions in these secluded mountain watersheds.

Beginning at the gate, the Maddron Bald Trail (an old wagon road) climbs steadily for 0.7 miles to the Willis Baxter Cabin (on right). 

Continue upward another 1.2 miles to reach the junction with the Old Settlers Trail (right) and Gabes Mountain Trail (left). Hikers looking to turn this into a longer overnight loop will need a permit for campsites 29 and 34, available for a small fee. 

Continue straight for roughly another mile, where the gravel path ends at an old traffic circle and the actual trail begins. 

For the remainder of the trail, the hiker passes through an exceptional old-growth forest populated by yellow poplars (tulip trees), buckeyes, and maples. Some of the largest and most common trees along this trail are the eastern hemlock, but in recent years they grandest of these specimens has succumb to the invasive hemlock woolly adelgid

Roughly 0.5 miles past where the road bed ends, the hiker crosses Indian Camp Creek along a sturdy foot log. Another 0.1 miles past that, the actual Albright Grove Loop begins. 

The Albright Grove Loop is a 0.7 mile loop that can be done from either direction. If beginning from the left, first hike an additional 0.3 miles to the upper junction.

The grove is impressive, but many of the massive trees have since died off. As a result, the composition of the forest floor is changing, with weedy, brushy vegetation aggressively filling every sunny gap. Even still, the hike is one of the most scenic in the southern Appalachians and guarantees the hiker plenty of solitude.  

Pack List

  • Pack
  • Water
  • Snacks
  • Camera
  • Trekking Poles
  • First Aid Kit
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Please respect the places you find on The Outbound.

Always practice Leave No Trace ethics on your adventures. Be aware of local regulations and don't damage these amazing places for the sake of a photograph. Learn More

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Joshua Contois Explorer

Park Ranger currently working for Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Restless by nature, Josh has traveled across the American west in search of new adventures. When not out exploring new trails or sleeping under the stars, you can find him in your local brewery.

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