Go confidently in the direction of your dreams. Live the life you have imagined.

Henry David Thoreau

The Closest Trail to Home: Roundtop

Monday August 20, 2018                                                                            Most Recent Posts:
Great Smoky Mountains National Park                              A Bear Bonanza: My Last Visit in Cades Cove
Tennessee                                                                         Baskin Creek Falls and The Place of a Thousand Drips




Map to trail headI have only one more waterfall hike and it’s a great one that I’ve saved for the end of my stay here.  Today I’m sticking close to home.  About 80% of the time thta  I’ve driven into the Great Smoky Mountains National Park I’ve come in on on Line Springs Road which once it enters the park gets its name changed to Wear Cove Gap Road.   Sometimes when I drive up to the top I find a couple of cars parked at a pull off where trailheads for Little Greenbrier Trail and for Roundtop Trail are located.

Little Greenbrier goes to spots I’ve already been to from other directions but Roundtop Trail goes from the top here on the very edge of the park to the Townsend Y where there is no bridge and you have to ford the Little River which is more or less tricky depending on the rainfall.  It would be a serious disappointment to get there and find you can’t get across and have to hike all the way back the 7.5 mile trail so most folks do this as a shuttle.  They go to the Townsend Y, check out the river and if it’s fordable they leave a car and drive another drive back to the trail head on Wear Cove Gap and set out.



Trail MapSadly for me, I didn’t think about doing this when Bill and Nancy were still here so we’d have two vehicles and could do the entire 7.5 miles.  David will be coming in a few days but this is a hike he can no longer do.  So I decide just to enjoy climbing all the way up and then turning around and coming back  at the half way point.  I’ll be hiking on the dotted green line from the red star to the blue.  The trail goes on beyond and all the way to the river but to show it all would have made the trail line too small.

Roundtop is an infrequently used trail along the northern boundary of the park.  In fact you can see that it steps out of the park at one point.

I park at the top where I’ve seen other cars.  The Little Greenbrier Trailhead is right here.  For the Roundtop Trail I have to hike a bit down the road.


Looking back up the road from the trailhead, I can’t even see the car.


The trailhead sign warns that there is no bridge 7.5 miles away in case you haven’t researched the trail.

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Since I won’t be going the full route to the river, today’s hike is definitely about the journey not the destination.  Also winter is the only time you can see most of the lovely views because of all the trees.   So today it’s going to be the little things that count and the joy of being on a little used trail alone in the mountains.

Right away the “little things” appear




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But then, a surprisingly big thing appears.

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It’s a house, literally 4 steps off of the trail.  I assume this is the spot on the map that shows the trail going out of the park although, take a look at the round metal park bondary marker between the trail and the driveway.




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And, there is a for sale sign.  So, if you want to live pretty much in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, let me know and I’ll send you the agent’s number.  The house has a number of very nice features like this great stone outdoor fireplace and oven.

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Covered deck just off the end of the house and next to the fire place sitting area.

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Beyond this is a hot tub which may have quite the view in the winter.  It appears the owners have been away and peraps a bear as been considering the tub since the cover is ripped and askew.


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Rock steps lead up to two possibly even better views .

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The blue chairs are quite a bit above the hot tub but the climb is easy.

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Even today, at the end of summer, there is some view.

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More views off the back of the house.IMG_2533


Back on the trail I am enjoying the beauty of the pine trees.  I have always loved their bark.  It seems so artistic tome.




More of my favorite little things.  They are everywhere I look.  The woods is amazingly diverse.

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I’m obviously the first person on the trail as I almost run into this web before I see it.

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At one point I get a view rather like the one at the house but I can see with it that in the winter this would be a great trail to hike.

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I assume these two groups of mushrooms re related though different.  I love their shapes and colors. Some look like velvet.

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Nature’s detail and artistry never ceases to amaze me.

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It’s not raining and didn’t rain yesterday but things are still dripping.  I took this video of the source of the dripping I heard that made me stop at just this spot.  I don’t think it’s audible but the wetness of everything is amazing.     The one red flower draws my attention immediately.


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His coloring blends in so well that I’m surprised I saw him at all.

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Good grief – what’s with the fur?

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I run into a couple of obstacles on the trail but nothing terribly problematic.


I’ve included pictures of a lot of the mushrooms I see on the trail but not all of them.
The trail is just lined with such a variety it’s hard to believe.

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Building a web across the trail seems like a dangerous place for a spider to build a web.  How many people would make a concerted effort to avoid destroying it.  Looks l ike an amazing amount of work and so delicate.


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At the crest of this gradual climb, the trail begins to drop away to the Townsend Y.  It’s my signal to turn around and enjoy the downhill stroll back to the trailhead.

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Of course I see things I didn’t see on the way up like this orange fringe orchid.

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The diversity in the park isn’t limited to mushrooms.  I remember taking a friend from Colorado hiking in the southern Appalachians and he was amazed at the diversity of trees.  He told me there are only 5 different trees in all of Colorado with 2 or 3 types of pine and fir.   There are 6 types of pine in this park.   I recognize this baby Virginia Pine and the White Pine shown below it.  I wouldn’t even want to guess the  number of different types of trees in the park.

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It’s been a wonderful morning in the woods.  I slip through the narrow trail and the bright faces of coreopsis and sunflowers bid me farewell.

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I would definitely recommend this hike as a tranquil, gentle climb with an amazing abundance and variety of plant life.  Next time, I want to hike it all 7.5 miles and wade across that river.

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