Great Smoky Mtns. National Park Sights

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Newfound Gap Road Review

In a little more than 14 mi, Newfound Gap Road (U.S. 441) on the Tennessee side of the park climbs more than 3,500 feet from Gatlinburg to the gap through the crest of the Smokies at 5,046 feet. It takes you through Southern cove hardwood, pine-oak, and Northern hardwood forests to the spruce-fir forest at Newfound Gap. Unlike other roads in the park, Newfound Gap Road has mile markers, starting at the park entrance near Gatlinburg. Sugarlands Visitor Center is at mile marker 1.7. It's worth stopping at Chimneys picnic area (MM 6.2), even if you're not picnicking. A lovely stream, with huge boulders, cuts through the picnic area, and an easy 0.75-mi hiking trail takes you through a cove hardwood forest. At around mile marker 7, three overlooks provide a good view of Chimney Tops, two rock spires sticking out of the ridge line. Note the hundreds of dead fir trees, killed by the woolly adelgid, on the mountainsides. You'll probably see a lot of cars parked at Alum Cave trailhead (MM 10.4), which follows Alum Cave Creek to Arch Rock, a natural tunnel caused by weathering, and then to Alum Cave Bluffs, a site of a potash alum and epsomite mine briefly operated by Epsom Salts Company before the Civil War. The trail eventually leads to LeConte Lodge on Mt. LeConte. At Newfound Gap (MM 14.7), you can straddle the Tennessee–North Carolina state line and also hike some of the Appalachian Trail. The two-lane, paved Newfound Gap Road has a 45 mph speed limit, with lower limits in some curvy areas. It is sometimes closed in winter due to ice and snow.

    Contact Information

  • Address: U.S. Hwy. 441, Great Smoky Mountains National Park, NC 37738
  • Location: Tennessee Side
Updated: 10-12-2012

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