Attractions, Gatlinburg, History, Parks

Little River Hiking Trail

The Little River Trail ascends a gentle grade along an old gravel railroad bed that parallels the river. Little River Hiking Trail located in the Elkmont Area off of Elkmont Road. The trail is 4.9 miles round trip with an elevation gain of 1125′ with moderate difficulty rating for hiking abilities and fitness level required.

Little River Hiking Trail

Hike alongside the Little River that cascades over large boulders creating a rushing river soothing sound and several small waterfalls. View several historic structures from the Elkmont resort development. Most of these former resort cottages were built in the 1920s, and were used as summer homes by the affluent from Knoxville. The homes are in disrepair and off limits.

Gravel Trail

The Elkmont area of the park was heavily logged from the late 1800s through 1938. In the early years logs were hauled out by ox teams, and then floated down river. Just after the turn of the century the Little River Lumber Company purchased nearly 100,000 acres of timberland along the Little River and its tributaries. They built rail lines to Elkmont, and eventually, a spur that extended all the way to Clingmans Dome. This spur would eventually become the Little River Trail. These rail lines allowed the company to extract timber at a much faster rate. After the Smokies became a national park the lumber company ceased operations in 1938, and had rolled up its tracks by early 1940.

Directions to Trailhead:

The hike along the Little River Trail in the Great Smoky Mountains begins from the Little River Trailhead in Elkmont. From the Sugarlands Visitor Center near Gatlinburg, drive 4.9 miles west along Little River Road to reach the turnoff for the Elkmont Campground, which will be on your left. After turning into Elkmont, drive 1.4 miles to the campground entrance. Instead of proceeding into the campground, turn left and drive another 0.6 miles to reach the parking area for the Little River Trail.

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