Hike to Rocky Top

Tennessee Cade's Cove Visitor Center

Added by Ally Woodall

This hike has some of the most rewarding views in all of the Smoky Mountains!

Rocky Top is known to be the spot that inspired the famous fight song of the University of Tennessee, which is also an official song for the state of Tennessee. 

The trailhead for this hike begins in the Cade’s Cove picnic area parking lot towards the back side. There are a few parking spots right at the trailhead, so arrive early in the day to ensure a spot. To begin, follow the Anthony Creek Trail for about 3.5 miles. Hikers will pass a horse camp relatively early on and then a few bridges over the creek that the trail follows. The first 2 miles are relatively easy to moderate in difficulty, only gaining about 500 feet in elevation.

At about 3.5 miles, Anthony Creek Trail will join Bote Mountain Trail. Turn right to continue heading up to Rocky Top. Here the trail landscape will change slightly and increase elevation gain. Rhododendron line the trail on each side and create a dense barrier limiting visibility through the woods. Erosion has also created a ditch-like tunnel on this portion of the trail.

At around 5.2 miles (1.7 miles after turning on Bote Mountain Trail), hikers will reach the junction of the Appalachian Trail by Spence Field. Turn left here and you’ll be rewarded with some incredible views, which only get better as you head towards Rocky Top. The last 1.2 miles to Rocky Top are pretty steep, but well worth the effort.

Hikers will know they’ve reached Rocky Top once they climb up a steep incline and reach a rocky, bald patch. At this point you can see almost 360 degree panoramic views. Relax and take in the views of this incredible place!

Pack List

  • Day Pack
  • Drinking Water
  • First Aid Kit
  • Trekking Poles
  • Camera
  • Trail Snacks
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Skill Level:



Spring, Summer, Autumn

Trail Type:



12.8 Miles

Elev. Gain:

3500 Feet



Easy Parking
Picnic Area

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How to Get There

30 days ago

Smoky Mountains Classic

Rocky Top is one of the best views in Great Smoky Mountains National Park, and is only accessible via backcountry trails, which means you lose the crowds that you'd find at Clingman's Dome or Newfound Gap. The Spence Field AT shelter is just over a mile and a half away, and would make a great place to camp overnight to allow you to enjoy Rocky Top at sunset or sunrise.

30 days ago

Added by Ally Woodall

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